My Song Is Love Unknown
We are going to be out of town for Holy Week this year, and that’s too bad. While I really like Easter (as I’ll tell you later), I am particularly sad to miss the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service. That may sound weird, because it is the bleakest day in the Christian calendar, marking Jesus’ passion (his crucifixion and death). But the way a lot of people look forward to Christmas, I look forward to Tenebrae. I always have been a bit perverse.
At the Maundy Thursday service we eat together, recognizing our common hunger and remembering our connection to Jesus’ disciples in the upper room millennia ago. We retell the story, recalling the very human people around Jesus—who ate with him, betrayed him, denied him, judged him, crucified him, and were crucified with him—and recognizing how much we are like them. As the story goes on, we dim the lights and strip the sanctuary. At the end, we are left sitting in the darkness, with the darkness. The evening that began with the shared meal of communion sends us home alone, in silence.
And there are the hymns. I love the hymns of Maundy Thursday the same way I love Christmas carols. While Christmas carols are triumphant, joyful, or cute, the passion hymns are thoughtful, quiet, mournful, rueful, grateful. They reflect a whole lot of life. There’s “Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended,” with the powerful confessional line: “’Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee.” There’s “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” with the great harmony by J.S. Bach. There’s “What Wondrous Love Is This,” with its final pledge, “Through eternity I’ll sing on!”
My favorite passion hymn, however, is unfortunately not in our hymnal. “My Song Is Love Unknown” is an eighteenth century English hymn that I first learned in college. The tune is sweet and delicate, and the words encapsulate the Gospel wonderfully. (There’s a great arrangement here.)
My song is love unknown,
my Savior’s love to me.
Love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I that for my sake,
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?
The hymn concludes with a note of gratitude and vocation:
Here might I stay and sing
No story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like thine.
This is my friend in whose sweet praise,
I all my days would gladly spend.
I have to confess that I don’t know what to do with the crucifixion. I know what it is supposed to mean, but I don’t know how to connect it with my life. But I know that I need to sit in the darkness and sing these songs of love unknown.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Maundy Thursday Service, TODAY—Join us for a 7:00 pm service of Communion & Tenebrae (Latin for “shadows”). This Holy Week Service will celebrate Jesus’s Last Supper and New Commandment (“Love One Another”) and commemorate his death on the cross at Calvary.
Good Friday Vigil, 4/14—We’ll gather at 1:00 pm for a vigil that includes meditation to the powerful tones of a gong at 1, 2 and 3 pm. Scripture readings and periods of silent meditation will take place in between. You are welcome to participate in any or all of the vigil.
Easter Sunday, 4/16—Join us for a 10:30 am service of Joyful Alleluias on this special day! The choir will perform Beethoven’s Hallelujah, and our children and youth will enjoy a celebratory Sunday School program and Easter Egg Hunt.
Car Free Sunday, 4/23—In celebration of Earth Day (4/22), we encourage you to walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation to church. Let’s do what we can to lower our carbon footprint and care for God’s good earth!
Poetry Hour, 4/23—Please join us and invite a friend, from 4:00-5:00 pm in the Church Parlor. Bring one or two poems on Nature to read along with hard copies to share with others. RSVP to Le Rowell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greet WWII Veterans Honor Flight, 4/25—Join to welcome WWII veterans from Marion, IL, at Reagan National Airport at 9 am on April 25. Marion’s Zion United Church of Christ helped send them off. To register for a gate pass and for other details, click here.
Mindfulness, Movement & Meditation, 4/25-5/23— Our spring spiritual practices series will meet from 7-8:15 pm on Tuesday evenings. Relax and renew through yogic breathing exercises, gentle movements (that can be done while seated), meditation, and the sound of the symphonic gong. For details, please contact Rosemary Peters, email@example.com.
Climate March, 4/29—The UCC is coordinating participation from churches across the country. Stay tuned for information about where and when we’ll meet! Questions? Pastor@cpcchurch.org
Children’s Sunday Service, 5/7—This annual worship service celebrates our Sunday School program and volunteers. Children and Youth will play significant roles in the service and act out some Sunday School highlights from the past year. Questions? Sundayschool@cpcchurch.org
Sign Up for Sunday School—We have only three more vacancies to fill for helping our lead teacher during Sunday School. Can you help May 21, May 28, or June 25? Sign up here.