Ponte Sant' Angelo Methodist Church
22 April 2019
Fairest Lord Jesus
Words from Munster Gesangbuch;
trans. by Joseph August Seiss
Music from Schlesische Volkslieder;
arr. by Richard Storrs Willis
Tune name: ST. ELIZABETH
You are one of Christ's closest friends. He always said that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets. But now He is gone. He has been tried and executed. His body was laid in a tomb. This is the third day since then. Now it is Sunday morning. It has been the longest weekend of your life.
Christ came to Jerusalem for the Passover. Following His example, you shared the Passover (Seder) meal. You told the story of the exodus. You celebrated God's deliverance of Isreal from bondage and from the curse of the angel of death. The feast of unleavened bread had begun. But now Christ was gone.
You can't seem to find that Passover spirit. Bondage and oppression continue, both for your nation and for you personally. The Hebrew people are still under Roman rule. The Jewish leaders who persecuted Christ are still in charge. Deliverance from the curse of death has no meaning to you today. Christ Himself is in a tomb.
Quietly and solemnly you gather some things to complete the burial of your Lord. You make your way to the garden and the cave where He was laid. When you arrive, though, He is gone. Gone! What do you feel? Fear? Outrage? Confusion?
You have to find out where He is. You are so upset that you can't see clearly. Someone is near and sees your distress. He asks what is wrong. You say something about finding Christ. You ask where to find Him. Then He calls you by name. You lift your eyes in disbelief, and He is there. Christ Himself is standing in front of you. All disbelief fades away. Hope is restored. It is a new week and a new world. This is new life--life from death!
What do you feel now? Joy? Rapture? Exhilaration? How do you describe it? One hymn writer shared their feelings in this week's featured hymn. It isn't the first hymn you think of for Easter, but put yourself into Mary's shoes on the resurrection morning and read the second verse:
Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.
How woeful Mary's heart must have been on the way to the tomb. How things changed, though. Her heart must have lept with joy. May your joy in the risen Lord be as great as Mary's.