Tuesday 24th March
Lifted High On Your Cross CH4 386
Ian Cowie (1923-2005) Tune Pulling Bracken
Lifted high on your cross,
drawing all folk, drawing all folk;
lifted high on your cross,
drawing all folk to you.
Down you came to live among us
part of your creation,
knowing poverty and sorrow
sharing each temptation.
On the gallows there they nail you
God despised, rejected;
deep within your earth they hide you,
till your resurrected.
Light and love pour down upon us
you relive your life within us,
all life consecrating.
The tune, Pulling Bracken is a Scottish folk tune which you can hear here. The Iona Community set their hymn Dance and Sing All the Earth to the same tune.
St John 12:24
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
In charismatic circles, “lifting Jesus up” has a tradition of meaning ‘praising God with great vigour’. Most times, that implies corporate praise within the safe walls of a tabernacle rather than where Jesus’ true “lifting up” occurs: outside.
The Greeks sought Jesus, thinking perhaps the best way would be to enquire within. Their answer was an affirmation that suffering and vulnerability brings reconciliation.
Nature’s best work seems to be in letting go of life in order to make room for life. In a time of climate emergency, a cracked open seed is a small sign that we have (maybe) a little time left to save the planet. If the seed remains uncracked, insular in the ground, it is dead to the world, and the world is dies without it. So it must crack open to give life.
Insular spirituality, no matter how charismatic, does not draw us to the truth of Jesus’ passion. Jesus brings the world toward the cross in suffering akin to the most vulnerable on earth. We are brought toward Jesus to be his body on earth.
“Without your wound, where would your power be?” is an Angel’s question to a bruised physician in Thornton Wilder’s alternative play about the pool of Bethesda called The Angel that Troubled the Waters. “In Love’s Service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.”
Church members and ministers alike carry wounds and hurts. Painfully too many recent stories in Christianity involve clergy who experience burnout. Mental illness is rampant in the clergy community as it is in our world.
If the Church can cultivate a space where wounds and tears are welcome, those wounds may turn into stories and testimonies of God’s love and care. Those testimonies need time to grow. Many need time and space in the soil. They need a community without judgement so that healing can spring forth new life. This is the practice of resurrection.
As William Cullen Bryant wrote, “Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again.”
Give us the courage to be unashamed:
of ourselves, of Your message, of You.
As You draw us to you in your suffering,
may our wounds call us to service, passion, and resurrection.