"And from my contrite heart with tears . . ."
Sunday, this past Palm Sunday, I was struggling with "letting go" of my worldly fears and concerns as I sought to prepare myself for Holy Week. We had sung "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" in church and the phrase "Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss . . . had visited my soul in a big way. I decided I needed to deal with my spiritual unrest and committed to sing this hymn to myself each day during Holy Week - just a small, simple, discipline. "Beneath the cross of Jesus, I long to take my stand - content . . ." Saving the world is so not my job. "Get over yourself, Bishop!" Your spiritual turmoil is precisely what this week seeks to address.
And yesterday the United States drops the biggest, non-nuclear bomb in history on Afghanistan, purportedly attacking ISIS. There is no declared war, no congressional conversation or permission, just the"Mother of All Bombs" proclaiming that might makes right and because we can, we will. I know this is not about me, but I just have to say that I don't feel my piety has been well rewarded.
"I tried not to worry about this stuff, Jesus. I gave it over to you. How is this okay?"
That's a sad reaction, I know. It may be wholly inappropriate in fact, but I really don't know how to feel. So, this morning, "from a contrite heart with tears . . ."
"Contrite" means "broken, remorseful, affected by guilt." This is a church word. The Psalmist writes that their sacrifice to God is "a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." I hope that's true, because today I'm all in. It's all I've got, that and my tears. I suppose this is how one is suppose to feel on Good Friday. Can't say as I like it very much.
The hymn actually goes, "And from my contrite heart with tears, two wonders I confess, the wonders of his glorious love, and my unworthiness." That's an updated version you'll find in modern day hymnals. The Old English is "the wonders of His glorious love, and my own worthlessness." Either way, though, whether I'm confessing "unworthiness" or "worthlessness," it doesn't strike me as much of a "wonder." God's love is a wonder. God's love given to a nation which would do such a thing is a wonder. God's love shown to me in the spiritually bankrupt confusion of not knowing how to feel or respond around all of this is a wonder. And maybe my realization of all of this - if that qualifies as "worthlessness" - is a wonder. I'll confess that. Confession is a wonder. I don't know how to go further than that, though. Not today.
And so, because I've asked for it, that is what I get to be content with. Jesus, dead, murdered, crucified, on the cross, flotsam in the maul of principalities and powers, my own face in the mirror with tears, powerless, confused, jetsam to Jesus' flotam, by promise perhaps actually "lagan" (for those of you enamored by maritime law.) The future is yet to be revealed.
It is Good Friday. I believe my confusion and tears are at least appropriate to the season. Tomorrow is a day about which the Scriptures are totally silent. I will be, too - contrite.