March 26, 2018 – Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!

I love being part of a church that commemorates all of the events of Holy Week. I love how we started the week with the children singing and waving the palm branches as we celebrated the Triumphal Entry of Jesus. Then as we shifted our focus to the darker part of the week, Jim reminded us that Jesus always shows up. Even though he knew that the pageantry was going to end and the crowd was going to turn against him before the end of the week, Christ still showed up.

Now we continue through the Passion of Christ, first with our Maundy Thursday service. On Thursday, a small ensemble will be singing a song called “Abba.” The composer explains the word as follows: “Abba is an Aramaic word drawn from the everyday language of Palestine. It is the personal form of the word Father and is equivalent to the English word Daddy. It connotes love and trust.” Upon first hearing this song, I realized that in the story of the Upper Room and Last Supper there is a character I have never really thought about. I have always focused on Jesus and the anxiety he surely felt, the disciples and their perplexity, Judas and his betrayal; but I never thought about God. This song portrays God as a Father seeking to console a child who is longing for protection and comfort. It is written from God’s perspective while watching the events of that night unfold.

Abba, Abba,
Like a whisper on the wind I hear my name.
In a sound so like a sigh, again it came.
Your disciples gathered with you do not hear.
Yet the whisper of my name has reached my ear.

I am here, my son,
Here in the upper room.
I hear the water gently splash,
I see the servant king attending to his friends.
Here I am, here in the upper room.
But as you serve the bread and wine,
The broken body and the blood are yours alone.

Abba, Abba,
Like a whisper on the wind I hear my name.
In a sound so like a sigh, again it came.
With a whisper that is heard by God alone,
My only son begins his painful journey home.

As we move into Good Friday, we remember the darkest night in history. From inner anguish to being tortured by the Roman guards, Christ experienced unimaginable suffering. Then hanging on the cross and dying, he felt the weight of the sins of all humanity. As we remember that gruesome night this Friday, Sylvia Hodge will sing a song titled “The Lamb of God.” “Abba” was a song from God’s perspective; “The Lamb of God” is a song to God.

Your only son, no sin to hide;
But you have sent him from your side
To walk upon this guilty sod
And to become the Lamb of God.

O Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God–
I love the holy Lamb of God.
O wash me in his precious blood,
My Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.

Your gift of love they crucified;
They laughed and scorned him as he died.
The humble king they named a fraud
And sacrificed the Lamb of God.

O Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God–
I love the holy Lamb of God.
O wash me in his precious blood,
My Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.

Praise God, the week does not end with this part of the story. The culmination of Holy Week is a celebration of our resurrected Lord! Easter Sunday is my favorite Sunday of the year. As an organist, it is an excuse to really pull out all the stops! (Not that I need an excuse to do that!) As a believer, it is a wonderful reminder that God’s desire to reconcile humanity to God is so great that God was willing to take human form and bear the weight of all of our sin. We celebrate Christ’s resurrection and God’s love.

The celebration will begin with a rousing toccata on “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” arranged by one of my favorite organists, Diane Bish. The choir will worship with “Hallelujah” by one of my favorite composers, Ludwig van Beethoven. Along with the brass and timpani, I will play an arrangement of “Thine Be the Glory” which is one of my favorite hymns! It is truly going to be a day of celebration, and I thank God that we can rejoice and say: He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
– Shelton