The Third Word: “Here is your son…” (April 2, 2012)

…Opening To…

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle; of the mighty conflict sing; tell the triumph of the victim, to his cross thy tribute bring. Jesus Christ the world’s Redeemer from that cross now reigns as King. (Venantius Honorius Fortunatus, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27; context)

…Filling Up…

For the last seven devos of Lent: last week and during this Holy Week, we are encountering Christ’s seven last words from the cross. These “words” are actually full sentences, and there are three in Luke, three in John, and Matthew and Mark share one, as well (though with a slight variation). For each of the words, I have written a song; now, the songs may or may not include the sayings themselves. Rather, think of them as my response to Jesus speaking out from the cross, a place of vulnerability, shame, and torment – that Jesus turned into a place of majesty, love, and salvation.

For each song, I gave myself no more than two hours to write and record it. These are by no means polished songs; they are the responses of my heart to Christ crucified. I hope that they enrich you on your Holy Week journey as they have enriched me. What follows is “How He Loves,” my response to Jesus’ third word from the cross.

(If you can’t see the music player, download the song here.)

I’m standing at the foot of the cross,
And everyone around me is a stranger.
Then I see her standing, looking so lost—
She sees the boy she once laid in a manger.
She falls to her knees
Saying, “Please, oh someone, please
Help my son.”
I look at the nails,
And all my courage fails:
I come undone.

She’s kneeling barely ten feet away,
But it feels like half the planet is between us.
I look at Jesus: bloody, betrayed;
And I wonder if it’s possible he’s seen us.
He looks back at me,
Saying, “See your mother, see.
Help her, John.
You are her son:
A family begun
Before I’m gone.”

I’m standing at the foot of the cross,
And the woman next to me is my new mother.
His commandment has a beautiful cost:
To show we are his friends we love each other.
I take Mary’s hand,
Saying, “I don’t understand
How he loves.
But this is my prayer
That in his love we’ll share,
O God above—”

For God is love.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you gave us the commandment to love each other us you love us. Help me to take seriously this call to love, for you made me in your image and you are love. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, kneeling at the foot of the cross and feeling Christ’s arms of love reaching out to embrace the whole world.

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