Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Thursday, March 5

Pastor Richard Hoyer

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded


It’s an ancient hymn, over 700 years old. We sing it still, and still it leads us into the whole point of Lent. “O sacred head, now wounded.”


Sacred! The holy God himself, in the Person of Jesus, was wounded, crucified, killed. Christianity is not merely one religion among many, it is the proclamation of a historical fact: God was on that cross, wounded for our salvation.


“Thy grief and bitter passion Were all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, But thine the deadly pain.”


My transgression! It’s no small thing, this transgression. It’s not merely the naughty things we do that are easily brushed off with feeble excuses, like “after all, I’m only human.” Sin isn’t that simple. Listen to Paul Scherer: “There is something terrible on this earth, and it is not just sin; it is the way sin runs into God, and he will not move.” Sin separates us from the holy God.


Forgiveness isn’t that simple either. In the first place, God cannot merely dismiss our sin with the wave of his hand and still be holy. Secondly, just as a doctor doesn’t try to scrub off the spots of measles with soap and water but treats the disease that produces the spots, so God deals with the disease of sin, not merely the little spots. Only God can heal us, only God can forgive—and it takes a cross to do it.


“Mine, mine the transgression But thine the deadly pain.”


“What language shall I borrow To thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?”


Lent forces us to face the cross, forces us to face our need for that cross, forces us to trust our forgiveness through that cross. Sooner or later, though, we have to get back to this business of living. What are we to do in the shadow of the cross? How shall we thank our “dearest friend?” Shall we simply say, “Thank you,” and go on about our daily lives as though nothing has really happened? By the cross God brings us to himself, into his life of love. So the hymn goes on:


“Oh, make my thine forever, And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never Outlive my love to thee.”


God’s love brought him to the cross. Living in that love is our salvation…and the way we give thanks.


Sing the hymn! Live its faith!


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