300 S Ardmore Ave, Villa Park IL, 60181

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Saturday - 4:30 pm Sunday - 8:00 am & 10:30 am Christian Education Sunday - 9:15 am


  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand
against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

 


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Pastor Rob Rogers was born in Seattle Washington. He has a B.A. in Communication from Concordia University, Austin, TX and a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. READ MORE >>

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Lent Midweek 2—February 24, 2021
Text:            Psalm 22
Theme:         O Sacred Head Now Wounded v. 2

        Last week, had I not been in quarantine, we would have begun a Lenten series on the hymn “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” Pastors Allyn and Corzine were good enough to step in for me at the last minute but I did post my sermon on the website if you want to read it.  As we continue our Lenten midweek services, we will be looking at the second verse of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.”

        “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” is a very old hymn.  It comes from a series of Lenten meditations written by Bernard of Clairvaux who lived from 1091-1153.  Bernard was a monk who lived in what was then France.  His mother died when he was young and his father, a knight, died in the 1st Crusade. Bernard himself organized the 2nd Crusade which was a miserable failure.  The hymn he wrote was far better than his service in battle.  It is a meditation on Christ’s crucifixion with verses that focused on his whole body from feet to head.  Paul Gerhardt, the Lutheran theologian and hymn writer who lived 1607-1676 developed the last of Bernard’s verses, the one on the head, into the hymn we know as “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” This week, verse two:

     How pale Thou art with anguish,
    With sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy face now languish
    That once was bright as morn!
Grim death, with cruel rigor,
    Hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor,
    Thy strength, in this sad strife.

 

        Christ quotes Psalm 22 from the cross. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” That question is embodied in verse two of this hymn.  Our king on the cross is a sad thing to behold. That once bright morn in the stable in Bethlehem with shepherds worshipping and angels singing is all but eclipsed as grim death and cruel rigor robs him of his life.  Some people do not like Lent because it forces us to look upon the results of our sin.  Many would prefer to skip from the Mount of Transfiguration to Easter morning and, as we all know, many Christians regularly skip from Christmas Eve to Easter morning leaving all that nasty sin business in between off the list.  I have even heard pastors say that we ought not preach about sin because people don’t like hearing about sin and we want you to come back next week.

        Sadly, it is not my calling to tell you what I think you want to hear – good or bad. It is my calling only to proclaim what God has said and God has said, “Be holy as I am holy,” and “the wages of sin is death.” God does not understand our sin.  He has given us everything we need in this life including his Word and Sacraments.  Why would anyone turn away from him? How can anyone look upon Christ dying on the cross and still go and blatantly sin against him by sinning against each other?  And yet we do.  We have the ability to compartmentalize our lives and justify our behavior so that we can do and say and think whatever we like and still claim to be God’s children.

        When you ask a child why he did something wrong, what answer do you get 9 out of 10 times?  “I don’t know.” Of course, he knows!  He did whatever he did because somehow it benefited him. Everything we do, we do to somehow fulfill some perceived need we have.  The perception is not accurate but we perceive it none the less. This hymn reminds us that whatever our perceived need is, if it is sinful, it is what hung our king on that cross.  That will perhaps dissuade some of us from committing the most vile atrocities but you and I both know that there is no failsafe against sin.  Finally, we all find ourselves staring up at our Lord bleeding and dying on the cross and knowing that we put him there.

        It is helpful to remember that King David wrote this psalm, Psalm 22.  He was a man who committed some vile sins.  He was a man who surprisingly found himself to be the man to whom the prophet Nathan spoke about the one who had herds of sheep and yet stole his neighbors one sheep to feed his guests.  King David was shocked to find himself mired up to his neck in sin.  He writes in Psalm 22,

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;

you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

On you was I cast from my birth,

and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Be not far from me,

for trouble is near, and there is none to help.

 

        While we would all love to avoid sin in our lives completely and the Word of God and the Sacraments can help us do that, we know that original sin has marred us in this life.  We are corrupted so there is no avoiding sin.  The important thing to know is what King David tells us.  We need to know where to look for help.  The vision of our king bleeding and dying on the cross is horrific, but is it also beautiful. The very thing that is horrific is what bought for us eternal life.  We look upon his pale, abused face that languishes on the cross, that face that once was bright as morn but now that grim death has robbed of life.  Luther once said, “When I look at myself, I don’t see how I can be saved.  But, when I look at Christ, I don’t see how I can be lost.” The life and soul of our king paid the price and that is how we continue on plagued by sin but painstakingly making our way toward paradise.