Posted by: Kyle Carlson, Pastor of Worship & Prayer, 8/26/11
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved singing about the cross. Growing up in Southern Baptist churches, even at a young age I would gladly join my voice with the congregation when they bellowed, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!” or “Jesus paid it all; all to him I owe!” My affection for cross-centered congregational songs has continued into the present day, and it is not in any sense a rare occasion that I include several songs on a Sunday morning that celebrate the finished work of redemption accomplished by Jesus in his death.
But in the past couple years, I have been struck by the recurring theme of resurrection among the earliest Christians. Even a cursory read through the book of Acts reveals that the apostles afforded a place of centrality and identification to Jesus’ victory over death. The apostle Paul sheds additional light on this point of focus in Romans 4:25, where he closely links the Christian’s justification (that is, his having been counted righteous in Christ) with the resurrection, rather than the death, of Jesus. He says that the moniker “counted righteous” will be attributed to “us who believe in him who raised from the dead our Lord Jesus, who was delivered up for our trespasses, and raised for our justification.” This is a subtle but monumentally significant nuance. To be sure, the cross is there in v. 25, in the phrase “delivered up for our transgressions.” That’s about the atoning death of Christ. But in Paul’s (Holy-Spirit-inspired) view, Christ’s death was for the purpose of putting an end to sin; it appears that the work of Christ that earns the believer a place of holy standing before God is not his death, but his resurrection, since “[he] was raised for our justification.”
In preparing for our Easter services in April of this year, I came to a realization: We don’t sing many songs about the resurrection. I looked over programs from the past several years of Easter services and found, to my embarrassment, that we have sung almost precisely the same set of songs each year on Easter morning. Good Friday? No problem. We have scores of songs to choose from. (Praise God! We should have scores of songs to choose from.) But when it comes to resurrection – the ground of our standing before God, according to Romans 4:25 - we have about four.
So I’m on a mission, BridgePoint. (And it’s not to stage a rock concert to save an orphanage.) I’m on a mission to infuse our congregational worship diet with songs about the hope and power of the resurrection. And I’m intentionally beginning this mission in August, so that when Easter rolls around next year I won’t find myself saying, “Bummer, THAT would have been a great song to do for Easter; too bad no one knows it!”
We introduced the first of these songs, “Christ Is Risen,” by Matt Maher, in the 11:00 service last Sunday, and will sing it again this week (as well as introducing it to the 9:30 crowd). Take a couple minutes and listen to the song below. The video contains the lyrics, so you can read along as you listen.
May our hearts, as well as our songs, be full of the life and hope granted us by Jesus’ conquering of the grave!