“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
Tomorrow, many congregations will hear the entire Holy Week story: from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem amid waving palms to his passion and death. It ends with hope appearing aborted, promises seeming dashed. Silence.
Linger near the cross this coming week, before the announcements of resurrection’s triumph. Linger in the questions of the cross. Jesus did not wink from the cross, “No worries, I got this!” He suffered to the end, even to death. We wonder how this awful spectacle can possibly be necessary for our salvation. We should wonder. To linger in the silence is to prepare ourselves for the incredulity of Easter Sunday’s announcement. Linger to wonder why God does not reject us after we reject God. Linger in the longing for love and mercy. Linger to feel the trembling that suggests this is not the end, even though you do not yet know for sure. Linger in the darkness so you can recognize when the dawn comes.
Cross-bearing God, allow me to linger in the silence until you turn my skepticism and questioning into awe-filled recognition. Amen.