Thursday, February 18, 2010

LENT - DAY 2

"Nothing in our hands we bring. Simply to Thy cross we cling."

So prayed my New Testament and Spiritual Formation professor Morris Weigelt as he knelt at the altar in the church sanctuary each pre-dawn Sunday morning.  He taught me in seminary and then I served as his pastor.  He was still teaching me.

"Nothing in our hands we bring. Simply to Thy cross we cling."

Not sure where Morris picked up this prayer.  It feels almost like a breath prayer in the Hesychast tradition.  Breathing in as "nothing in our hands we bring" is formed in one's mind, then breathing out with "simply to Thy cross we cling."  Repeat.  Again.  Again.  Make it a "prayer without ceasing."

"Nothing in our hands we bring.  Simply to Thy cross we cling."

Theologically, I readily accept the phrase.  Good Biblical theology, it is.  Read Romans.  Can't refute it.  But I still want to take exception, argue with it, rationalize.  Nothing? Nothing we bring? Nothing?

"Nothing in our hands we bring.  Simply to Thy cross we cling."

History, secular and sacred, is replete with stuff folks have brought.  To appease the gods.  To win divine favor.  To improve the crops.  To receive a blessing.  To gain abundance.  To get a promise of protection.  To gain earthly power.  To prevent punishment.  To prove our worthiness.  To validate our holiness.  To secure eternal life.

"Nothing in our hands we bring.  Simply to Thy cross we cling."

This doesn't reduce us to nothings or invalidate good things we do. God forbid that we should consider ourselves anything less than uniquely created and infinitely valued.  God forbid that we should ever not do the good we know to do. This aside, it's just that we all come before God on equal footing. No one has an edge or ever will. No one can claim favor or curry it.

"Nothing in our hands we bring.  Simply to Thy cross we cling."

Well, there is this one thing.  It's not the thing we bring.  It's the thing to which we cling.  It's the thing we reach for, that we hold on to, that buoys us on unstable ground, in uncertain times, through many dangers, toils and snares.

"Simply to Thy cross we cling."

Cling to the cross which Jesus took up for our sakes. The cross on which Jesus suffered for sins not his own.  The cross on which he carried our sorrows.  The cross through which he identified most completely with the injustices, shame, sin and guilt we bear.  The cross from which he refused to come down.

"Simply to Thy cross we cling."

Clinging, we find our footing surprisingly firm.  Cleaving, we stand taller than we ever could on our own.  Staying, we discover strength to reach out with the same love that saves us.

"Simply to Thy cross we cling."

Simply. Profoundly.

"Nothing in our hands we bring.  Simply to Thy cross we cling."

Morris Weigelt's voice echoes in my mind as I pray this prayer.  His voice, his life, his way of reflecting that very faith, that very reality.  And I'm grateful.

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to Lent with you. I went to my first Ash Wednesday service ever, at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. The most awesome part? Several thousand people leaving the service without talking, not a peep. Nothing but footsteps echoing in the narthex. The holiness of God--wow.

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