This prayer was used at the opening of the 2016 Schmiechen Lecture at Eden Theological Seminary.  The guest speaker, Dr. Robin Jensen, spoke on the depiction of the cross in early Christian art.

Sung Refrain:
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Christ of glory died
my richest gain I count but loss
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Blessed Creator, you who carefully designed the shape of each falling leaf, who traced the grain of the wood, and set the times of sunrise and sunset, we give you thanks and praise for all you have made, and the great tree of life that shelters us all. We are grateful especially for this day, for the gift of breath, and light for our eyes, as we gather here to consider the tragedy and the mystery of the cross.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Christ of glory died
my richest gain I count but loss
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Blessed Redeemer, liberator of those oppressed and gracious healer of the damage caused both by what we do and what is done to us, as we prepare to look upon the cross we remember those who are this morning on death row, awaiting execution here in Missouri and across the globe.  We remember those who die needlessly, so that a message may be sent to any who would resist.  And we remember those like Michael Brown, whose broken bodies are publicly displayed for hours, in order to try to claim the power of the state over human bodies, over life and death.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Christ of glory died
my richest gain I count but loss
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Blessed Sustainer, wellspring of enlightenment and gentle wisdom beyond the ages of mortals, we ask that in the hours ahead you draw us not merely toward the cross, but into your persistent work in the face of all that destroys, all that divides, all that brings anguish and despair.  Pry loose the shutters of our minds.  Blow through our hearts.  Lead us toward shalom, we pray in the name of the one who could not be silenced, who could not be shamed, who could not be ended: the risen Christ.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Christ of glory died
my richest gain I count but loss
and pour contempt on all my pride.

 

 

photo credit: bobosh_t on flickr.com – Creative Commons license

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