January 12, 2020

How Long Has It Been?

When my love for Christ grows weak, When for deeper faith I seek, Then in thought I go thee—

Garden of Gethsemane.

There behold His agony, Suffered on the bitter tree; See His anguish, see His faith,

Love triumphant still in death.

Do you recognize these lyrics?  They come from an old hymn— one we connect to the Lord’s Supper.  Yet, that was never the composer’s intent.  Instead, recognizing the power of revisiting Jesus’ sacrifice, he urges us to go back to the cross to receive again and again the blessing that awaits us there. 

      Today’s church doesn’t want to dwell on the “negative” or the bloody scene central to the faith. No, we ponder God’s grace and what blessings it entails.  We are invested in “our miracle.”  We are more focused on what faith is going to achieve than those “scenes of fear and woe.”

Then there is the other side of church-life and how our feelings about church are tied to our experiences with God’s people.  So, we find ourselves disappointed and frustrated.  Maybe we question the direction or wisdom of leaders.  Maybe we are just fatigued by the    drama.  Life and routine have all but beaten the life out of our faith.

This is John Wreford’s burden.  When frustrated, conflicted or fatigued— return to Gethsemane and Golgotha.  It will renew your faith and commitment.  This is Wreford’s intent.  Listen to his second stanza:  When my love for man (brothers?) grows weak, When for stronger faith I seek, Hill of Calvary, I go—to the scenes of fear and woe.  

So, how long has it been since you have returned to Gethsemane and reflected on what it says about those who frustrate you and your own sense of self and entitlement?  When was the last time you allowed the cross to overshadow all your other concerns and the drama at church and bring you to your knees?  The point is this:  we all need to return to Gethsemane for the renewal we need.  We all need to be reminded that faith is ultimately and always about Jesus.  As for the rest, we just need to get over it!

Paul Dawson