A Classic CCM Song for Holy Saturday – He Holds the Keys (Steve Green)

April 19, 2014

Steve Green performing his classic “He Holds the Keys” in concert in 1987.  The song appears on his 1984 album People Need the Lord.  I hear this song in my head whenever I see any iconography regarding Christ and the Harrowing of Hell….!

(scroll down below the icon to see Scriptures that tie in with the song and the painting…)

 harrowing-of-hell

art credit

Acts 2:24 – God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

1 Peter 3:18-19 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,

Colossians 2:13-15 – And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.


Holy Saturday: Death has seized our Lord Jesus Christ; but shall not keep its hold on Life

April 7, 2012

“Death swallowed Him, not knowing Him”

Art Credit: Web Gallery of Art.  Albrecht Durer –  Harrowing of Hell; or, Christ in Limbo (No. 14), 1512.  Engraving

Let us commemorate today the solemnity of the burial of Our Saviour. He has undone the bonds of death of those who were in hell, filled hell with His splendour, and roused from sleep those lying there; and we on earth rejoice exultant, recalling to mind His Resurrection, and now we fear death no more, for it shall not prevail against immortality.

Death has seized our Lord Jesus Christ; but shall not keep its hold on Life. It swallowed Him; it swallowed Him, not knowing Him: but with Him, it will give up many. Of His own will He is now held; tomorrow, He shall rise again, and hell shall be emptied. Yesterday, on the Cross, He darkened the sun’s light, and behold in full day it was as night; today death has lost its dominion, suffering itself a kind of death. Yesterday the earth mourned, contemplating the evil hate of the Jews, and in sadness clothed itself in a garment of darkness. Today, the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Yesterday the earth trembled, as though it would dissolve, threatening to swallow those who dwelt in it; and the mountains were cleft asunder, the rocks were split, the Temple appeared as though naked, and as though it were a living being threw off its veil; seeking as it were to show by what had happened to itself that its holy places were no longer sacred to the Lord. They that suffered these things were lifeless, without mind. The elements mourned, as though it wanted little for them to dissolve in chaos, and bring disaster on the world, were it not that they could see the purpose of their Maker: namely, that of His own will He suffered.

O new and unheard of happening! He is stretched out upon a Cross Who by His word stretched out the heavens. He is held fast in bonds Who has set the sand a bound for the sea. He is given gall to drink Who has given us wells of honey. He is crowned with thorns Who has crowned the earth with flowers. With a reed they struck His Head Who of old struck Egypt with ten plagues, and submerged the head of Pharaoh in the waves. That countenance was spat upon at which the Cherubim dare not gaze. Yet, while suffering these things He prayed for His tormentors, saying: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. He overcame evil by goodness. Christ undertook the defence of those who put Him to death: eager to gather them into His net; annulling the charge, and pleading their ignorance. Made the sport of their drunken frenzy, He submitted without bitterness. He suffered their drunkenness, and in His love for mankind called them to repentance. What more could He do?

St Amphilochius of Iconium

***

This was originally posted by Fr. Al Kimel at his blog, Pontifications in March 2005.  I am reposting it from the WebArchive of his original entry

Three other devotionals for Holy Saturday posted by Fr Kimel may be found here.

“Henceforth Hell belongs to Christ”

“Hell has been filled with splendor”

“There is a great silence on earth today”


The Scourging

April 5, 2012

*Music links updated 2014*

Mark 15:15:  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus,
he delivered him to be crucified.

The Scourging

art credit:  Rubens “The Flagellation of Christ”

***

Listen: By His Wounds (Brian Littrell, Mac Powell, Mark Hall & Steven Curtis Chapman, from the 2007 album Glory Revealed, iTunes link)

(There should be an embedded audio file above and a play arrow, but sometimes WordPress has been balky recently with embedded audio.  Should the song not be showing up, or not playing, you can find a YouTube version here.)

 

Listen: Stricken Smitten and Afflicted (Fernando Ortega, from his 2005 Album Beginnings, iTunes link)

(There should be an embedded audio file above and a play arrow, but sometimes WordPress has been balky recently with embedded audio.  Should the song not be showing up, or not playing, you can find a YouTube version here.)

 

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
’Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
’Tis the long expected prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
’Tis a true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting his distress:
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man, and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost.
Christ the Rock of our salvation,
Christ the Name of which we boast.
Lamb of God for sinners wounded!
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

Thomas Kelly, 1804

[reposted from 2009]


St. Gregory the Great: Prayer of Acclaim to the Suffering Christ

April 5, 2012

[reposted from 2007 and 2009]

Prayer of Acclaim to the Suffering Christ

O Lord, you received affronts without number from your blasphemers, yet each day you free captive souls from the grip of the ancient enemy.

You did not avert your face from the spittle of perfidy, yet you wash souls in saving waters.

You accepted your scourging without murmur, yet through your mediation you deliver us from endless chastisements.

You endured ill-treatment of all kinds, yet you want to give us a share in the choirs of angels in glory everlasting.

You did not refuse to be crowned with thorns, yet you save us from the wounds of sin.

In your thirst you accepted the bitterness of gall, yet you prepare yourself to fill us with eternal delights.

You kept silence under the derisive homage rendered you by your executioners, yet you petition the Father for us although you are his equal in divinity.

You came to taste death, yet you were the Life and had come to bring it to the dead. Amen.

— Saint Gregory the Great

source: http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/pray0540.htm

Art Credit: Web Gallery of Art, Tiziano, The Scourging of Christ, Oil on canvas, Galleria Borghese, Rome


Reflecting on Christ as the Passover Lamb

April 5, 2012

*Music links updated 2014*

art credit: Francisco de Zurbarán. “Agnus Dei” found at StevenSizer.com

***

Earlier this Lent, I came across two posts at the King’s English blog which I highly recommend as aids for reflecting on the Passover symbolism and the Exodus and their meaning for those who believe in Christ, our Passover, the Sacrifice Lamb:

Passover: I HIGHLY recommend reading it all!  But here’s an excerpt:

It’s not about the LORD inspecting each household to see whether it’s up to scratch.  It’s onlyabout whether the household is sheltering under the blood.  That is the only issue.

And it’s not even about how much faith you have in the blood.  If the blood is applied at all, you’re saved.  Strong faith in the blood and wavering faith in the blood lead to exactly the same outcome.  Because it’s not the faith in the blood that saves.  It’s the blood.

Do we see how Passover teaches us about our Christian lives?  Christ is our Lamb.  And His death on the cross was the true Passover – a plague of judgement that provides salvation for all who shelter under Him.

Therefore our salvation is entirely down to Him.  It’s not about the quality of our living, speaking, acting, praying.  It’s not even about the quality of  our own faith.  It’s only about the blood.  It’s the quality of His death, not the quality of our life.  Our salvation has nothing to do with our performance and everything to do with His performance.

Passover takes our eyes off our sins and off ourselves.  Our salvation is entirely outside ourselves.  It’s all about Jesus our Lamb.

Red Sea – An excerpt:

If you’re saved from judgement by Jesus’ sacrifice, won’t you just keep on wallowing in sin?  Doesn’t the cross mean that Christians will be complacent about sin and go on indulging in it?”

Actually the opposite is true.  Jesus doesn’t save us for sin, He saves us from sin.  And here’s how.  He doesn’t just die for us, He also rises to new life for us.

Or to put it in Exodus terms.  We don’t just enjoy a Passover, we also experience a Red Sea.  We’re not just sheltered under the blood of the Lamb, we’re also brought out of the land of slavery.

Those who benefited from the sacrificial lamb were also those who left Egypt.

And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.  (Exodus 12:11)

The lamb was not given so that God’s people could enjoy Egypt.  It was given to bring them out.  Any who said ‘Yes’ to the substitutionary sacrifice were also saying ‘No’ to the old life.

***

Worship Music:

The Sacrifice Lamb, (by Lamb, from the 1995 album Lamb Favorites)

(There should be an embedded audio file and play arrow above, sometimes WordPress is being balky with embedded music.  If the song does not show up or does not play, there is a YouTube version here.)


A Maundy Thursday Devotional: Wash Me

April 5, 2012

Music links updated 2014

Art Credit: Peter Paul Rubens “Christ washing the apostles’ feet. 1632

***

An excellent short reflection from the Barnstorming blog:

Psalm 51: 7

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;  wash me.

It had to have been mortifying.  The Master, with a towel wrapped around His waist like a slave,  kneeling to wash His disciples’ dirty smelly feet covered with the dust of Jerusalem.  Though Peter protested, he was rebuked to submit, to comprehend the symbolism of the act.

It was this reversal that carried Him to the cross, the ultimate cleansing coming not just from His hands, but from His wounds, from His suffering, from His blood.

So He continues to wash off our everyday grime and gently, tenderly wipes us clean, knowing, realizing we will only get soiled again.

What wondrous love is this?

***

Songs for worship:


A Devotional for Wednesday in Holy Week: Betrayals

April 4, 2012

Music links updated 2014

Judas’ Kiss

art credit:  This fresco, by Giotto di Bondone, is from the Life of Christ series at the Arena Chapel (Cappella Scrovegni) in Padua, Italy.  Giotto created it between 1304-06.

***

This reflection follows on very well from the two main entries I posted yesterday:  a prayer acknowledging we too were enemies of Christ, and a reflection on Mary’s sacrificial offering (where at the end, I reflected on the contrast between Mary’s sacrifice and Judas’ meager reward for betraying Jesus.)  It is from the Barnstorming blog:

The reality is Jesus’ enemies weren’t really the Romans and Jews.  They were those who professed to love Him the most but then turned away when loving Jesus meant suffering with Him.  The betrayals that take place, resulting in His arrest and death,  are not by those who hated Jesus.   Jesus told His betrayers the truth about who they were, and what was in their hearts, by shining His light on their weakness, illuminating their sin even before they committed it.  He does the same with us every day.  We cannot hide from His light illuminating the dark corners of our heart.

We must face the fact that we continue to betray Him, usually in small ways that we hope are insignificant or hidden because, after all, we are Christians, we pray, we go to church, we are “good” people who certainly mean well.

We do no less than what Peter did three times.   We deny knowing Him when it is inconvenient to admit it.

We are no less selfish than Judas selling out for silver when what is being asked of us is to give up the material things of this world we hold dear.

We are no less cowardly than the throngs crying “Crucify Him!” when only days before they were  lauding him as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, going along with the crowd,  as it feels risky to stand out, stand apart, be utterly alone in our devotion to Him rather than live out our love affair with the world along with everyone else.

So with friends like us…

We have some serious explaining to do.  Amazing that He knows our hearts even before we utter a word.

The full entry is here.

***

Two Songs for listening & reflection:

Traitor’s Look and WHY?  Both songs are by Michael Card, from his album Known by the Scars, which I highly highly recommend in full as an amazing musical reflection during Holy Week.

(Hopefully the playlist will work, but I’ve been having some issues with embedded audio files.  If the music does not play, you can find videos at YouTube:  Traitor’s Look,  and Why)


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