“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
In Jerusalem’s Old City you can’t help but run into crosses. The Stations of the Cross create traffic jams as pilgrims stream in and out of caves and back and forth among one another. The pilgrims come to trace the spiritual steps of Jesus.
Pilgrims come to Jesus’ tomb with a diversity of pieties. Some come carrying rented crosses. Some come singing. Some come on their knees. Some come with no shoes. Some come like tourists to check off some sort of list documented with selfies. And some come, laden with things to rub and bless against the stone of preparation where Jesus’ body lay—shopping bags, cotton soaked with oil, a scarf.
Why do pilgrims stream to the cross, to the place of Jesus’ death? Because the cross, the place of death and defeat, is also the place of life and resurrection. The cross marks the place where brokenness and healing meet.
We seek, O God, the healing that meets our wounds, the life that meets our death. In Jesus, you have come to know our paths. Grant that in Jesus, we may know your way that leads to life. Amen.