Victory in Jesus — Really an Easter Song


Churches have a variety of different traditions, even within the same denomination. At my church we sing the refrain from the old hymn “Victory in Jesus” at the end of almost every worship service. Even though the words are projected on the screen, very few people need to see them. The lyrics are deeply ingrained in most of our memories. Even in the minds of many of the children.

The funny thing is, most people still follow the words on the screen as if they can’t remember them. I can’t be too critical of that, however. I thought I knew them well until I got ready to write the refrain down below. Alas! I had to dig out a hymnal to be sure I had it right.

O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever,
He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew him,
And all my love is due him.
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

I have an unfortunate disadvantage about things like that. Playing bass guitar on the praise team, I’m usually focusing on the music of every hymn we do, not the words. Would I dare to get sidetracked from my playing by thinking about the words?

Sometimes I wonder if any of the other congregants actually think about the words while singing them. It’s far too easy to sing them by rote after all these years–even when reading them off the screen when that shouldn’t be needed.

How shameful for any of us to take the victory we have through Jesus for granted…

When God created the world and placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them free will. He wanted them to love Him. For that to happen, he had to make them free to reject Him. And so they did, and the world has been going downhill ever since.

But God never intended for mankind to continue living in hopelessness. Jesus came to earth to live, die, and be resurrected as both God and man to make things right with everyone who accepts His gift–not just eternal life in Heaven, but the most meaningful earthly life possible…with a sense of purpose unlike any other.

Hmm. Victory in Jesus? We may sing it every Sunday, but what an especially appropriate hymn to sing and to think about–to really think about–this Easter season. Maybe even to think about as if we’ve never really thought about it before.

What’s your favorite Easter hymn? Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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An Extra Post: an Original Easter Song

NOTE: If you follow my other blog, As I Come Singing, you’ll receive this same post this Wednesday. But I  couldn’t resist sharing it with my On Aging Gracelessly readers today as something extra.

Then dawned Sunday, the first day of the week,
When into the garden silently came
Troubled women to anoint the body of their friend,
Who–Friday on a cross–had been slain.

These women had endured his trial; these women had watched him die.
They’d wept as they saw his body torn by pain.
But they never stopped to think–they never realized–
That what he had told them was true:
That they’d see him in the flesh, alive again.

The women approached the tomb in the stillness of the dawn,
When they saw that the rock was gone from the door.
“Fear not,” an angel said, “the one you seek is not dead,
But has risen and lives today, and his spirit will live with you evermore.”

Then dawned Sunday, the first day of the week,
When out from the garden joyously ran
Shouting women to proclaim that one who had been slain
Had lived, died, and arisen as God and man.

About this Song:
This is one of my oldest songs–thirty to forty years. I used rhymes a lot more back in the early days of my song writing. And this particular song falls  more distinctly into the folk sound I’ve never really outgrown than some of my more recent songs.

Honestly, there’s one thing about this song I don’t like, and I don’t know what to do about it. That’s the part about the angel saying Jesus’ “spirit will live with you evermore.” While Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to believers following his ascension, I don’t believe any of the Gospel accounts of the women in the garden had the angel(s) say anything about that.

Poetic license is one thing, but purposely and knowingly misquoting an angel is something else.

Suggestions, anyone? How about leaving a comment?

I hope you have a blessed Easter and that your thoughts are more about the significance of Jesus’s coming back from the dead than about the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs. I can assure you the Easter bunny was NOT present at the empty tomb on that glorious Sunday morning.

~*~

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I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Something that’s Always Puzzled Me about the Easter Story

As important as Christmas is to Christians–if Jesus had never been born, our Bibles would contain no New Testament–Easter is more important. Christians serve a living Savior, not one whose earthly ministry came to a drastic end when He died on the cross.

The accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection appear in all four of the Gospels. And they’re told from the viewpoint of the four different writers, each of whom was either present at the time or writing down the account from someone who was.

I’m not bothered by what some people consider inconsistencies.

Rather minor issues, as far as I’m concerned. Like whether one woman or several went to the tomb on Easter morning, only discover that their friend–their Lord–had risen from the dead. And whether the woman or women encountered only one angel or two.

I dare you to interrogate two people who witness the same event and expect them to agree on every detail. Not because they necessarily disagree, but because each one was focused on a different part of what they both saw. In the excitement of discovering that Jesus was alive again, who could blame the Gospel writers for sharing the parts of the story that seemed most relevant to each of them?

Okay, so what is it about the Easter story that has always confused me? The fact that  Jesus was dead three days prior to His resurrection. But if you count the time,  he was in the tomb from late Friday to early Sunday. So He was dead all of one day and part of two others.

Perhaps that shouldn’t be an issue. The important thing–ultimately the most important–is that Jesus was really dead. Agreed?

But wait. The Bible makes a big deal about Jesus being dead three days. The Bible isn’t wrong, is it?

As much as I tried to ignore this question over the years, it didn’t cease to bother me until I read a very interesting article on the Internet. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet any more than I believe everything reported in the news.

But this article was articulate and convincing. So much so I’ve never forgotten the basic idea it presented. When I recently mentioned it to a biblically knowledgeable friend, he said the article was correct.

Some of this may be familiar to you, but possibly not all of it.

Jesus was crucified during Passover week. The holiest of the Jewish holidays. His body was taken down from the cross before sundown so it wouldn’t desecrate the Sabbath. And the Sabbath is Saturday, right? Or actually from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. So He must’ve been crucified on Friday. “Good Friday,” as it’s commonly known.

Ah, but this article pointed out that the Jews celebrated an extra Sabbath during Passover week. The day before the normal Sabbath. That means Jesus was actually crucified on Thursday and spent Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night in the tomb. Two full days, much of a third. Now THAT fits the Bible’s account perfectly.

I can’t tell you how I treasure that tidbit of knowledge. And the next time someone mentions Good Friday to you, just smile at them if you don’t feel like getting into an argument. You know what seems to be the truth now.

What do you think of that? How about leaving a comment?

May each of you have the most blessed of Easter Sundays. And just remember one thing: the Bible doesn’t say anything about the Easter bunny being present at the empty tomb.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Crosses–More than Jewelry

myCross     crossKathleenHappy     myDove

For many years I enjoyed making wooden crosses and doves by hand. I quit making them a few years ago, just as I quit making walking sticks. The effort was just too hard on my hands.

After drawing a rough shape on a ½” thick piece of wood, I cut as close to the design with a coping saw as I could. Before I did further shaping, I drilled a hole for the leather lace to go through; that way, if the wood cracked or I messed up the hole, I didn’t waste time doing more.

Next, I used very coarse sandpaper to get rid of the excess, which could take anywhere from one to two hours. The final shape was never the same.

I smoothed it with fine sandpaper. Sometimes I finished my project with a coat of polyurethane—I did that for all of the doves—but sometimes I rubbed my own skin oils into the wood of the crosses. That sounds a little weird, but it gave the crosses a unique finish.

I usually gave the cross or dove to somebody who had admired the ones I wore.

My wife has been wearing the same cross for more than ten years. Only rarely does she wear another necklace rather than the wooden one that means so much to her.

That brings up an important point. There’s no telling how many people wear cross jewelry simply because they like it—without necessarily being Christians or having any understanding of the significance of a cross.

To those people, I sing part of this song I wrote in 1999:

I wear this cross upon my neck to tell how God loves me.
I wear this cross upon my neck to show I love Him, too.
I wear this cross upon my neck to say that God loves you,
For His Son rose from death to give us life
When we trust in Him.

Have a blessed Easter.

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”—check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger