Seventh Sunday After Epiphany
|Genesis 45:3-11, 15||Trust in the Lord leads to blessing;
trust in man leads only to curses
89: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
553: And Are We Yet Alive
|Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40||Take delight in the law of the Lord||
131: We Gather Together
138: The King of Love My Shepherd Is
524: Beams of Heaven as I Go
|Luke 6:27-38||Beatitudes and woes||
295: In the Cross of Christ I Glory
396: O Jesus, I Have Promised
|1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50||Christ is risen indeed!||
303: The Day of Resurrection
315: Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
Our Lord is the God of unintended consequences. He rules in paradox. Perhaps we could even say that He rules through paradox. How can we say that? Just look at the lectionary scriptures this week. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, but revealed himself to them as a powerful Egyptian ruler when they came to him seeking food. The psalmist warned us not to envy the wicked because the meek inherit the promises of God. The Gospels record that Christ died on the cross, but overcame death to give us eternal life. Epistles to the church in the first century emphasized that death had to happen before resurrection could take place.
In every instance, the human element accomplished its immediate intentions, producing the intended consequences. God had greater plans, though. Joseph's brothers never intended for him to become a powerful ruler, but God did. Man does not reward meekness with wealth, but that is what God provides. Pilate and the Hebrew leaders never planned on the resurrection, but that is exactly what God did plan!
This week's featured hymn highlights the paradox of the cross. The cross was a hideous and ghastly thing. It had one purpose and one purpose only--to kill. It killed people by robbing them of breath. It killed families by robbing them of loved ones. It killed communities by robbing them of hope. There was no mercy. There was no redemption. There was only death. It killed in so many ways at so many levels.
In the face of this unredeeming and unredeemable torture, Sir John Bowring penned a great hymn, In the Cross of Christ I Glory. History recorded many great military campaigns and other conquests, but Bowring relegated them to "the wrecks of time." History recorded terrible and grusome deaths by crucifixion, but Bowring found glory and sublime light.
Had Bowring lost his mind? Not at all! He knew the scriptures, and he knew his faith. All of the unintended consequences of crucifixion were manifested in Christ and through Christ. The physically dead rose from the grave. The spiritually dead received eternal life by grace through faith. The hopeless received hope. The condemned received pardon.
As you read the words of this hymn, look for the paradoxes. Look for their parallels in your life. See how God overcame paradoxes for others in the past. Take heart in knowing that God can do the same for you, too.
1. In the cross of Christ I glory, |
towering o'er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story
gathers round its head sublime.
2. When the woes of life o'ertake me, |
hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
never shall the cross forsake me.
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.
3. When the sun of bliss is beaming |
light and love upon my way,
from the cross the radiance streaming
adds more luster to the day.
4. Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, |
by the cross are sanctified;
peace is there that knows no measure,
joys that through all time abide.
God bless you--
Lection at HymnSite.com
God bless you!
|Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.|