03242019 Lent 3 Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“At the Cross, Her Station Keeping”

03242019 Lent 3 Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

March 24, 2019
“At the Cross, Her Station Keeping”
Sermon Audio

This past year our church of Emmanuel has hosted the Mission District Fall Convocation, and in a few weeks our Women’s group will host the Mission District Women’s event.  This morning, our hymn, “At the Cross, Her Station Keeping” provides for us a connection to how one woman stood at the Cross of Jesus Christ as a model for all of Christendom of intentionality and love for our Savior.  Let’s sing the first stanza of “At the Cross, Her Station Keeping” and see who this woman was to Jesus.

1 - At the cross, her station keeping, Stood the mournful mother weeping, Close to Jesus to the last.  Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, All his bitter anguish bearing, Now at length the sword had passed.

When Jacobus de Benedictis, commonly known as Jacopone, a friar, penned this hymn in the 13th Century he did so, not in fanfare, but as one who was one of the first to pen gospel narratives as dramatizations.  Looked down upon by his time and even the church, Jacopone’s dramatizations found a place in the hymnody of the church including “At the Cross, Her Station Keeping”.  

Our hymn this morning, “At the Cross, Her Station Keeping” pointed to an individual that was and is important to the story of salvation.  When Jacopone wrote, ‘At the cross, her station keeping, Stood the mournful mother weeping’, it is clear this woman was none other than Mary, Jesus mother.  She not only wiped His nose as a child, fed Him, nurtured His soul, but at the end of His ministry ‘stood’ and watched what He was enduring.  She was ‘Close to Jesus to the last’, not only from His birth, flight to Egypt, return to Nazareth and during His earthly ministry, Mary followed Him even to Calvary.  It is clear their intimate parental connection was related in our hymn, for it was “Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, All his bitter anguish bearing’, Mary felt His pain as only the Mother of God was able.  Mary’s compassion extended even to the end when as Jacopone wrote ‘Now at length the sword had passed.’  Mary felt the pains of her Son as only a loving mother could.

Let’s learn more so how hard it must have been for Mary, Jesus mother seeing her Son endure what was foreshadowed to her years before as we continue with the second and third stanzas of “At the Cross, Her Station Keeping”.

2 - Oh, how sad and sore distressed Was that mother highly blessed Of the sole-begotten one!  Oh, the depth of her affliction As she saw the crucifixion Of her dying, glorious Son!

3 - Who, on Christ's dear mother gazing, Pierced by anguish so amazing, Born of woman, would not weep?  Who, on Christ's dear mother thinking, Such a cup of sorrow drinking, Would not share her sorrows deep?

Though without a ‘tune author’, this 13th Century hymn does show for us today how Mary felt.  ‘Oh, how sad and sore distressed was the mother highly blessed Of the sole-begotten one’ Mary’s depth of connection showed she knew her Son was not only different, but special and had a divine purpose.  ‘Oh, the depth of her affliction’ clearly demonstrates how she was affected, not only by what she saw, but in her heart it changed her.  For ‘As she saw the crucifixion Of her dying, glorious Son!’ Mary saw not through the eyes of a random bystander, but her personal relationship with Jesus, cut through her soul as only could be experienced by Jesus mother.  But notice what is hinted at in “At the Cross, Her Station Keeping”.  Though Jesus was ‘dying’ He was her ‘glorious Son’, His death was necessary for we, His followers and believers to have eternal life.  Jesus endured this so salvation can be ours and we can be with Him in His kingdom for eternity.

So though Mary, ‘Who, on Christ’s dear mother gazing’ watched as Jesus was ‘Pierced by anguish so amazing’ the story began long before with His conception, His birth and life.  And naturally Mary would ‘weep’ for Him.  For Jesus was ‘Born of woman’ and ‘Who, on Christ’s dear mother thinking’ would see His ‘cup of sorrow drinking’ as what was required of Him.  Yet, Mary would “At the Cross, Her Station Keeping” ‘Would not share her sorrows deep’ because her sorrow and His purpose would have a different result than all could understand.  For Mary had heard this long ago and seen His life as only a mother could, yet, without fully knowing or understanding the degree of what would be required of Him for the salvation story to be fulfilled for us and for all of mankind.

Let’s conclude with the last two stanzas of “At the Cross, Her Station Keeping” seeing through the eyes of Mary how ‘judgment’ would be fulfilled and salvation would be ours so we can ‘consecrate’ our lives to Jesus Who offers us salvation.

4 - For his people's sins chastised, She beheld her Son despised, Scourged, and crowned with thorns entwined; Saw him then from judgment taken, And in death by all forsaken, Till his spirit he resigned.

5 - Jesus, may her deep devotion Stir in me the same emotion, Source of love, redeemer true.  Let me thus, fresh ardor gaining And a purer love attaining, Consecrate my life to you.

As we sang these last stanzas did you see and understand when Mary looked and ‘beheld her Son’ ‘chastised’, ‘despised’, ‘scourged’, ‘judged’ until ‘his spirit he resigned’.  This is the price Jesus was willing to pay and Jacopone’s desire was to convey Mary’s heart for we who sing this hymn today.  It is Mary’s model that, ‘Jesus, may her deep devotion’ has a purpose for us, that it may ‘Stir in me the same emotion’ seeing that Jesus is our ‘Source of love, redeemer true’ and Jesus opens our eyes to the gift He offers us of salvation and eternal life.  And we then are empowered to become active in ‘fresh ardor gaining And a purer love attaining,’ unable to earn God’s gift of salvation.  For we cannot earn what is given to us freely by God’s grace, mercy and love.  Yet, we can respond to it as we sing and hear how Mary is a model for us so we will not be like the people Ezekiel spoke to, Paul instructed and Jesus warned when He encountered the fig tree that bore no fruit.  

May we who gather here today be enabled to see Mary as a model for us of a life of dedication not just to her Son, but to her Savior and ours and with hearts and lives changed sing our hymn, “At the Cross Our Station Keeping” as we ended it this morning singing to our Lord with our promise that we would ‘Consecrate my life to you.’  AMEN.