View print-optimized version

Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, March 27, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

Sometimes we strew his way,
and his sweet praises sing,
resounding all the day
hosannas to our King.
Then “Crucify!”
is all our breath,
and for his death
we thirst and cry.

“My Song Is Love Unknown” (v. 3) by Samuel Crossman
Hymn 209, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Very few hymns describe mob action, that I know of anyway. In one of the most memorable passages of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain describes a man facing down a mob intent on lynching him. The man has no fear, because he understands cowardice: “The pitifulest thing out is a mob . . . they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. But a mob without any man at the head of it is beneath pitifulness.”

This hymn verse gives me whiplash, describing two types of crowds or, really, two sides of the same crowd. The happy parade singing songs of praise, and a mob viciously screaming for blood. The images are uncomfortable, tightly knit into a single verse. But what really knocks me out is that this doesn’t describe the citizens of Jerusalem; this describes us. The pronouns won’t let us squirm away. We aren’t like the ancient Israelites; we are them. The hymn places us in sandals on the dusty streets, squarely next to Jesus. The spotlight is thrown on us and all our fickle weakness, our “pitifulness.” We are reminded of our cowardice in big and small things alike. And during a crucial event in the fate of the world, we are shamed.

Dearest Lord, forgive me for my weakness in not protecting the helpless, defending the voiceless, or standing up for what I know is right. Please give me the strength to do better. Amen.

Written by Jim Garner, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

Devotion index by date | Id like to receive daily devotions by email