When I SurveyNew Every Morning | February 28, 2022
When our Ash Wednesday service has ended, I linger in front of a mirror . . . to ponder that I have just been marked with the horror and hope of Jesus’ cross. No other hymn captures so thrillingly the paradox of this horror and hope as Isaac Watts’s “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” We “survey” the cross. We don’t just glance at it. We measure it carefully, size it up, consider every angle.
Too often, we sanitize the cross, preferring those of smooth wood or shiny metal. The original cross would have been of olive wood, gnarled with human flesh nailed to it. Crucifixion was a gruesome, horrifyingly painful, public humiliation of criminals. Having seen plenty of crosses, the soldiers at the foot of Jesus’ cross didn’t “survey” this one. . . . They could not see that this was God and that this was the start of a revolution of redemption.
—James C. Howell, Unrevealed Until Its Season: A Lenten Journey with Hymns (Upper Room Books, 2021)
When have you looked closely at a cross and thought about what Jesus did for us?
Join the conversation.
[Christ] himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
—1 Peter 2:24 (NRSV)
Prayer for the Week
O God, we give you thanks for hymn writers of the past and present. Help us to always have a song of praise on our lips and in our hearts, especially in times of trouble. Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.
What is Lent? When is Lent? Why do we set it apart? Learn more about this special season by reading Lent 101.
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.
At one Good Friday service I attended, the congregation came up to a wooden cross on the altar and each person pounded a nail into the cross, That was a very uncomfortable experience as was watching the movie ‘The Passion of Christ”. What Jesus did for us on that rough hewn wooden cross,
as awful a death as we imagine it, was far worse, as Jesus took the sins of the world past, present, and future, upon Himself and paid for them with His blood and death. It is the miracle of miracles.
Thank You, Lord. Our Lenten study uses this book and videos of the hymns it discusses. This book is a great blessing. Thank you Rev. Dr. Howell and The Upper Room.
So glad I can review posts made during the week, Wonderful comments in reaction to the reflections as well as in support of others. It is gratifying to know what we post is read and there’s a response. It mirrors prayers to God. Lots of concern for Julie’s health, Ally’s disability claim, David’s legal issues Jill, Larry, and Roger, and Lou shoveling snow. Thankful Rick is in San Diego, glad to hear from him. Rest assured that New Englanders, Northeasterners can stay warm in winter and handle snow and ice. I expect Southerners have skills dealing with heat and humidity. All of this ability is a God given gift. yes, prayers for Ukraine and the Russians who oppose Putin’s war. Soon many of us will know the Ukrainian national anthem. it was played after worship Sunday. Hope to hear from Julie soon, Glad for the positive frame of mind after the state tennis tournament results, Jill. Making it there is a huge accomplishment. God is with us always. Thank You, Lord.
I can’t remember ever doing this in the way the author describes. I have only encountered the “sanitized” versions of the cross.
Home from the hospital and must make many new doctor appointments and have further testing. Needed more blood yesterday and they don’t know why I keep needing it.
Prayers for Ally and David, for mproved health and finances and for resolution of legal matters. Prayers for Robert as he prepares for another move, may all go smoothly. Prayers for Jill, Larry and Roger for improved health and swift condo sale and relocation. So good to hear from Rick. Thank you for your prayers and may God bless all who visit here.
Yes, Robert, the depiction of the crucifixion in “The Passion of Christ” was hard to watch and process. A good thing that I was uncomfortable, and yet to what degree did it significantly impact me? Yes, it was reality and likely much worse than what was depicted in the movie. Hallelujah, what a Saviour.
Dad’s mind is swirling with everything that will be taking place in the next few days. He calls me and my sister multiple times a day. My sister and her husband are beginning to realize just what a significant change this is going to be. And, she is coming to find out how stubborn he is. He struggles to hear, and when he does hear – he then chooses if he wants to listen. My sister and I kinda had a chuckle about it, but it is likely to be a significant source of frustration in the days to come. I will be over at his condo tomorrow evening packing up the dishes and china. We are giving the china to a thrift store and my sister is taking the dishes for the place in Florida.
A third consecutive day of abundant sunshine – so good for the soul. The warmth in the car…had to crack the windows on the way home it was so pleasant. I got my car washed on the way home also, trying to rid it of the white salt.
Good to hear from you, Julie. I pray your body will respond well and regain some strength.