Here at the end of the Lenten observance (well, almost the end anyway), we have hints of Resurrection. We have “a foretaste of glory divine,” as the hymnist Fanny Crosby says. As if the Spirit and the lectionary preparers knew that we would need something to help us through the next couple of weeks. As if they knew that without this reminder, we would find it a very hard road as we made our way stumbling behind the Christ who suffers and dies for us.
We start with the Psalm, which begins with a hard question but then ends with hope. It begins with an admission of guilt, or need, or emptiness and then moves toward grace and reconciliation. Without that grace, who could stand? Without that hope, who could stand? We would be dry bones; we would be three days rotting in a tomb.
But that is not our story; that is not our song. Instead, the bones can live, by the breath of God. Instead, death is not an end, by the word of Christ. No, we don’t go to an easy celebration, but to a deep appreciation for what Christ has done – is about to do – for us on the cross. We are humbled by this realization, and repentant that it is our rejection that has caused this pain.
We pray prayers of confession this day and seek not our due but God’s grace. We stand vigilant over our lives, like watchers on the walls, aware of our failings and of Christ’s redemption with equal fervor. We sing hymns of thankfulness and commitment to this journey of faith and of proclaiming the good news with passion and persistence. This is a worship experience of anticipation and of completion. We await the redeeming work of Christ on the cross, even as we have already received that redemption. We anticipate this journey of suffering, into the depths of sacrifice and death, even as we know the completion of the work. Let us prepare ourselves for what is to come by remembering what has been and by trusting in the Spirit that gives life, even when all seems lost. Otherwise, who could stand?
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.