Lyrics of Lent

Mid-week services during the Lenten season strike a different chord with me than my regular practice of Sunday morning worship.  The solemnity that surrounds the service allows me to stop and do some personal assessment.  By the power of the Gospel, I am called to kneel at the foot of the cross.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, I am able to confess my sinful burden to my Lord and receive the forgiveness I desperately need.  I hear this call echoed in the words of James Montgomery’s hymn, “Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain.”

Come to Calv’ry’s holy mountain,
Sinners, ruined by the fall;
Here a pure and healing fountain
Flows for you, for me, for all,
In a full, perpetual tide,
Opened when our Savior died.

While Calvary hosted the gruesome crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, it is not a location to be feared and avoided.  Contrary to our sinful human response, it is at the cross of Christ that all humanity receives unmerited grace and the strengthening of our faith.  This spiritual healing was offered to all, at the moment Christ earned our salvation.  Jesus accomplished our salvation at His death on the cross.

Come in poverty and meanness,
come defiled, without, within;
From infection and uncleanness,
From the leprosy of sin,
Wash your robes and make them white;
Ye shall walk with God in light.

Just as the physical signs of Christ’s abuse may be repulsive to some, the ugliness of our sin shows open wounds and wicked scars.  There is no sin too great and no person beyond contempt, that is not invited to come to Christ.  Living in Christ’s presence transforms the deformity of sin to a new creation.  What was once filthy, has been made clean by the precious blood of Jesus.  “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Come in sorrow and contrition,
Wounded, impotent, and blind;
Here the guilty, free remission,
Here the troubled, peace may find.
Health this fountain will restore;
They that drink shall thirst no more.

The call to confession is a powerful component of our Lenten worship.  Jesus bids us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)  We are promised, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Peter 1:9)  And just like the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus offers us forgiveness and “living water”. (John 4)

They that drink shall live forever;
‘Tis a soul-renewing flood.
God is faithful; God will never
Break His covenant of blood,
Signed when our Redeemer died,
Sealed when He was glorified.

Calvary was never intended to be the final stop of our Christian walk.  The Cross of Christ points us to the empty tomb, not just Jesus’ but ours as well.  Where Jesus is, we can find streams of living water.  In Jesus, we find the bread of life.  God keeps His promises.  We can see that in what Christ fulfilled through His death.  In Christ’s resurrection, we look forward to a fulfillment of another promise of God.  That promise is the complete removal of our brokenness, in heaven.

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“Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?’  I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

 ‘Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:13-17)