Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday of Lent 2

Nearer My God to Thee – The Lutheran Hymnal #533
Genesis 28:10-19

Nearer, my God, to Thee
Nearer to Thee
E’en though it be a cross
That rais-eth me,
Still all my song shall be,
Nearer my God, to thee,
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to Thee.

Our hymn finds itself rooted in American history. It is likely that this hymn will always be associated with the tragic death of President McKinley. The last words of the President, as reported by his physician (Dr. M. D. Mann), were: “‘Nearer, my God, to Thee, E’en though it be a cross,’ has been my constant prayer.” This hymn was played as the body of assassinated American President James Garfield was interred at Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. The hymn was also played as the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912.  Out of 2,235 recorded passengers, only 712 survived.  Of the 1,523 souls who perished, 45% were comprised of the crew who valiantly remained aboard assisting passengers to the lifeboats. Strong emotions are associated with this hymn.

Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23) If anyone will come after Jesus in the resurrection to life, he must also come by way of the cross. It is the cross that makes our resurrection to glory possible. We are in Lent. There are many crosses we must face in this human life. As you draw near to Christ this day remember that Jesus’ cross, His passion, His suffering brings you to a new life and an eternal hope.  

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings, with Your most gracious favor, and further us with Your continual help, that in all our works, begun continued, and ended in You we may glorify Your holy name and finally, by Your mercy, obtain eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.[1]

[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect for divine guidance; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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