Sunday I will be preaching from 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. The title of the sermon is "The Power of the Cross." In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul is addressing a community divided. He offers a different vision of the church, one rooted in the message of the cross. The only problem is that the cross appears to be foolishness. To the wise of this world, why would anyone want to follow someone who died on a cross? What kind of God did this Jesus represent? Of course, we have turned the cross from a sign of foolishness to a sign of power. I will take this up in the sermon, but as I was writing the sermon I "stumbled" upon a hymn written by Barton W. Stone, one of the founders of my denominational tradition. Stone did not embrace the reigning penal substitutionary atonement theory. He expressed his vision of the cross in a hymn found in the Chalice Hymnal. (Chalice Press, 205). I plan to make use of the fourth stanza of the hymn, but thought I might share the full hymn, so we might reflect upon it as we continue our Lenten journey from the Wilderness to the Cross.
How might the cross be a sign of God's love?
Behold the love, the grace of God,
displayed in Jesus' precious blood;
my soul's on fire, it yearns to prove
the fullness of redeeming love.
The cross I view--O wondrous love!
My sins expire, my fears remove;
my native enmity is slain
I'm reconciled--I'm born again.
Our God is love--O, leap, my soul!
Let warm hosannas gently roll!
Love gave a Son to save our race,
and Jesus died through sov'reign grace!
What love has done, sing earth around!
Angels prolong the eternal sound!
Lo, Jesus bleeding on the tree!
There, there, the love of God I see!