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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, March 22, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down
beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul!

“What Wondrous Love Is This” (v. 2), American folk hymn
Hymn 215, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

This verse of a lovely and uplifting hymn, taken on its own steam, holds the Lenten walk with force. The hymn writer must know what it is to be sinking down. And for him the sinking weight is compounded by “God’s righteous frown.”

I imagine there are moments in life where the sinking down shows up when we realize that we have failed God. Yes, I suspect there are days and hours when we are lock, stock, and barrel full of our humanity and we know it! I suspect there are times when we ignore God’s call to care for the life of the planet or to usher in God’s realm through random acts of kindness. I know in my own life that I have disappointed God by taking life for granted or taking love for granted or living in ways that harm others or ignore the fact of that harm. Sinking down is even more pressing when we fashion a life without God’s attentive and charged discipline. And many expressions of Christian faith stop there. This verse of the hymn does not. Rather, it plunges us into grace that arises from Jesus’ love for our soul itself.

The affirmation of the last two lines arises from the soiled sorrow of our lives. Christ, the one whom God crowns with glory and thriving, raises our hanging heads, and his eyes meet our eyes, his fingers wipe away the tears of hurt or regret, and our soul, our very particular soul, sings out with such glory we scarce can take it in. Yes, the poverty of our sinking meets the riches of Christ’s unswerving gaze. What wondrous love is this? Mighty wondrous!

Generous God, you are the foundation beneath our sinking down. You hold us with a quick care. And you gave us Jesus Christ to bring us fully into community with you and one another. All amazing; so wondrous! Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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