Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, September 20, 2015
Lamb of God, in Prayer
Today’s Name of God has such power for me. Such resonance. It’s another of my go-to expressions for God and God’s person. God’s character. My word—Name of God for today is Lamb of God.
As I used Centering Prayer earlier today, this phrase made it so easy, so immediate for me to go to prayer. “Lamb of God” has so many connections in my brain and memory. So many of the memories come from music. This phrase is a touchstone and foundation for countless songs and hymns, not to mention portions of religious services and pieces of classical music.
One of the immediate hymns that came to my mind is from the German liturgical tradition. A hymn I learned as a child in the Lutheran church where I was baptized and confirmed. The words of this hymn were written in the mid 1500’s by Nikolaus Decius, a follower of Martin Luther. Johann Sebastian Bach used the music for this hymn, O LAMM GOTTES, as a basis (cantus firmus) for the opening section of the St. Matthew Passion.
I think my lifelong attraction to and love for this hymn comes from my early exposure to it. (I was a serious, contemplative child. Some might have said precocious.) Here are the words, as found in the Service Book and Hymnal of the Lutheran Church, copyright 1958.
“O, Lamb of God most holy!/Who on the Cross didst suffer,/And patient, still and lowly,/ Thyself to scorn didst offer;/Our sins by Thee were taken,/Or hope had us forsaken:/Have mercy on us, Jesus!”
This hymn is usually classified as a Lenten hymn. I have also found it under the Sacraments section of various hymnals. I keep coming back to the hymn and to the words of Decius. Simple, profound, moving. This expression of God, this Name of God will most often bring me to tears. With the imagery of the Passover Lamb, unblemished. As John the Baptist said (in the first chapter of the Gospel of John), “John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”
So, all of this flashed through my head in the time I centered, using this Name of God. The time of prayer was deeply moving to me. I think it might have been the most intense experience I had all month.
Dear Lamb of God, thank You for this time of prayer, of focus, and of meditation on You and Your Name. Thank You.
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