27 March 2016

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Goosebumps rose up on my arms as the first chords of the hymn rung out on the piano.  I was immediately taken back in time to my youngest Easter Sunday memories; the new dresses and the white hats and the Easter Lilies and the choir processional up the long church aisle, regal in their ceremonial robes, following after the Cross that was no longer a sign of death and despair but of hope and life.  I didn’t understand that then; not really, to the depths that I understand it now. Back then I just couldn’t wait for the fourth verse so the trumpets would begin to play; heralding in the joyous good news that He is Risen, indeed. This morning as we sang this ancient hymn together, I half expected the trumpets to join in.  And they did, if only in my memory and my heart.

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly king, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

Our heavenly king, over all tribes and tongues and nations.  There are two services I love more than anything here on the Africa Mercy: Christmas, where we sing Silent Night in several different languages; and Easter Sunday, where crew members say He is Risen in their mother tongue. It’s so beautiful.  He is Risen, it’s the same astonishing miracle proclaimed in Spanish and French and Fon and Arabic and Hindi and the dozen or so other languages represented here and the thousand represented among believers across the globe. Alleluia means praise to God, in any language.

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
Now above the sky he’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

My heart aches for all the hatred in the world.  All the hurt, the desperation, the anger… I can’t even put words to what I feel.  My heart longs for unity, for love, for peace.  And here on a ship in Madagascar with friends from all over the world I get a glimpse of what God meant when he said it is good. Creation.  Not what we have done with it, but what He intended it to be, a joyful family coming together in grateful awe and thanksgiving and worship.

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as his love; Alleluia!
Praise him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia!

I know across the planet today there will be millions who will sing these words or those like it; my prayer is that they would ring true, that somehow hatred would be replaced with love, violence with peace, despair with hope. May these words not just be Easter Sunday memories but believed, carried out of the building not just as a catchy tune but as a banner and a proclamation that this is what we were made for.  Hope. Joy. Truth. Together. 


Lyrics from Jesus Christ is Risen Today, penned by Charles Wesley in the 1700s.

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