“Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” (ELW 335)
1 Jesus, keep me near the cross,
there’s a precious fountain;
free to all, a healing stream
flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross
be my glory ever;
till my ransomed soul shall find
rest beyond the river.
2 Near the cross, a trembling soul,
love and mercy found me;
there the bright and morning star
sheds its beams around me. Refrain
3 Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
bring its scenes before me;
help me walk from day to day
with its shadow o’er me. Refrain
4 Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
hoping, trusting ever,
till I reach the golden strand
just beyond the river. Refrain
I came to faith as an adult. This verse reminded me of the shift in worldview that occurred with my conversion, particularly regarding the cross.
Before I became a Christian, I simply saw the cross for its brutal historical value. Jesus was by no means the only person crucified. It was a fairly normal, albeit gruesome, execution method of the time. How could anyone find love and mercy near the cross? How could the morning star shed beams around you near the cross?
After my conversion, I came to understand that it was at the cross that God poured out love and life for us. Sometimes I am still shocked by it all: God died for us! It is irrational! It is inconceivable! Yet, as Christians, we believe it. In Christ’s suffering, we find salvation and peace. During these long days of Lent, we are all invited to move closer to the cross.
Gracious God, keep the cross on our hearts and our minds. May we balance the ugly and the sublime and find love and mercy near the cross. Amen.