Thursday, September 08, 2011

For this I have Jesus

I went to a dear friend’s funeral yesterday, and as you’d expect for funerals for those who die before they are “rich in years” it was not a great day.  It was in the sense of seeing old friends and celebrating the life of a very nice man, but it would have even nicer if he had been there with us.  One of the songs we sang is this one by Graham Kendrick:

For the joys and for the sorrows
The best and worst of times
For this moment, for tomorrow
For all that lies behind
Fears that crowd around me
For the failure of my plans
For the dreams of all I hope to be
The truth of what I am

For this I have Jesus
For this I have Jesus
For this I have Jesus, I have Jesus

For the tears that flow in secret
In the broken times
For the moments of elation
Or the troubled mind
For all the disappointments
Or the sting of old regrets
All my prayers and longings
That seem unanswered yet

For the weakness of my body
The burdens of each day
For the nights of doubt and worry
When sleep has fled away
Needing reassurance
And the will to start again
A steely-eyed endurance
The strength to fight and win
Graham Kendrick  Copyright © 1994 Make Way Music, 

It was particularly apt because the friend had battled for many years with depression and it seemed to me that this song, which in the face of it is rather bleak, seemed appropriate.  It’s very hard, when all life throws you is a dried out and rather mouldy lemon, to have some cheery soul yelling at you to make lemonade.  It’s even worse when they tell you that you should make lemonade because that’s what Jesus would do!  And the agony is piled on when they tell you that we can make lemonade because Jesus has the victory!!!  Yes it is true that Jesus does have the victory but when you’re sitting in the dark holding the nasty lemon it has a bit of a hollow ring to it (the sentiment, not the lemon)

The problem with the victory rhetoric is that it distances us from Jesus, rather than drawing us towards him.  The words of this song could apply to things in my life, but they don’t connect with a victorious Jesus who can’t relate to any of this.  But if you look at the words again I think you could imagine Jesus recognising them from his experience of human life.  The grief at the death of Lazarus, the frustration at people who refused to hear his message, the fear in the face of physical abuse, and the weight of responsibility for saving the world.  Jesus spent time feeling lost and abandoned by his friends, rejected and cast out.  This is the incarnation: that Jesus is not a distant remote God who looks on us dispassionately while we suffer.  Instead he is the Word who “…became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.” 

My friend’s experience was often bleak; he was a very intelligent man so he wasn’t able to not ask tough questions of God, but the testimony of his friends yesterday was that he never lost his faith, and because of what Jesus did in moving into his rather gloomy neighbourhood, and the testimony of my friend’s life of witness to the truth of it we were able to say “For this we have Jesus”

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