By Becky Ahlberg
“When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”
Isaac Watts penned those words in 1707. He was a masterful preacher and poet and was known for writing hymns as part of his sermons. This particular hymn has lasted more than 300 years precisely because it captures the ethos of the cross for each of us personally. Watts was known to have three “rules” for writing: make it personal, make it sensuous (as in appealing to the senses), and make it passionate. He believed that following these rules would make the words memorable and meaningful.
We don’t use the word survey much anymore. We just say “take a good look.” But to survey is so much more. The word actually means to take a “comprehensive view.” As you approach Communion today, please do just that. What do you see? What do you hear? How do you feel? Where do you connect to your own faith? How is it personal for you? How do you react? Do you find things that are personal, sensuous, passionate?
Today, in this moment of reflection, would you take a comprehensive view of the cross “on which the Prince of glory died”? See the wounds from “His head, His hands, His feet” and wonder at how “sorrow and love flow mingled down.” Imagine feeling the thorns that “compose so rich a crown” and imagine their cruel combination of pain and mockery. Think of your own betrayal at times.
Does the view of the cross convict you of your need for it? Does it connect to the picture of a wounded Savior with “love so amazing, so divine,” that it demands your soul, your life, your all?
May we never approach nor leave this table without taking a truly comprehensive view of the price paid for our redemption.
Becky Ahlberg serves as executive director of My Safe Harbor in Anaheim, California.