There is a Fountain Filled with Blood — Lenten Hymns

Scripture Focus: Luke 22:39-44
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Zechariah 13:1
On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

Reflection: There is a Fountain Filled with Blood — Lenten Hymns
By Jon Polk

The hymn, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” can be difficult to sing. Not because of a challenging rhythm or melody, but because of vivid and gratuitous language. This hymn would likely receive a PG-13 rating for violent content.

William Cowper (pronounced “Cooper”), born in England in 1731, wrote “There is a Fountain” after a significant period of depression, something he battled all his life.

Cowper’s mother died in childbirth when he was six. He and his brother were the only two out of seven siblings to survive past infancy. His mother’s death affected him significantly and began his life-long battle with mental illness.

Cowper attended Westminster, where he took an interest in writing poetry. However, after graduation, he became apprenticed to an attorney, but never practiced law.

This led to an offer of a clerkship in the House of Lords, but Cowper suffered a mental breakdown due to the stress of the interview. After attempting to take his own life, he was admitted to St. Alban’s Hospital. He was treated by a Christian therapist who encouraged him to read the Bible. In so doing, Cowper began to find peace of mind and recovered after eighteen months.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though as vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

Upon release from St. Alban’s, Cowper moved in with a retired clergyman who introduced him to minister and hymn writer, John Newton. Newton invited Cowper to assist with pastoral duties and encouraged him to contribute to a hymnbook. Cowper wrote sixty-eight hymns for the collection, including “There is a Fountain” and he flourished under Newton’s care.

The season of Lent reminds us that when we are at our lowest of lows, Jesus extends his hand to rescue us. He has been there. He has sweat blood in a moment of distress and agony. He has shed blood in the ultimate sacrifice for our rescue and redemption.

William Cowper became a successful hymn writer and renowned secular poet. However, he was a troubled soul most of his life. The death of his brother and several close friends agitated his depression. Cowper claimed God protected him from taking his own life on several occasions.

While the hymn’s imagery may be violent and difficult, so too are the pressures and tragedies we face in life. Our faith in the Fountain redeems even our most tragic wounds.

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die.

Music: There is a Fountain by Russ Taff
Lyrics: “Praise for the Fountain Opened” (original title) – from Hymnary.org 

From John: Mental illness should be taken to God in prayer just like cancer, heart disease, Covid-19, or any other illness. Also, just like those other illnesses, one should seek professional help for mental illness. If you struggle with mental illness, especially if you have thoughts of harming yourself, seek help immediately. Contact one of the organizations listed below or local organizations in your community.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Resources: 
Mental Health Grace Alliance
Not A Day Promised Resource Page
Life Recovered (Resources for Ministers)
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
“Because the needy are oppressed, and the poor cry out in misery, I will rise up,” says the Lord, “And give them the help they long for.” — Psalm 12.5

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Exodus 19 (Listen – 4:04)
Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)

Read more about Treatment of Mercy
May we seek to treat the mentally ill medically, spiritually, and relationally, as we support them within our communities as treasured ones, loved by Christ.

Read more about Discipline for the Anxious

The psalmist writes of being “too troubled to speak,” yet he cries to God. He writes of insomnia, yet he rests in God.

He Became a Servant — Love of Advent

Scripture Focus: Habakkuk 3.2, 13-19
2 Lord, I have heard of your fame; 
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. 
Repeat them in our day, 
in our time make them known; 
in wrath remember mercy. 

13 You came out to deliver your people, 
to save your anointed one. 
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, 
you stripped him from head to foot. 
14 With his own spear you pierced his head 

Luke 22.25-27
25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

Reflection: He Became a Servant — Love of Advent
By John Tillman

Habakkuk’s psalm longs for the Lord to make himself known as he had in the past. 

The prophet seems to be referencing the Exodus from Egypt, as he depicts God marching out with plagues and pestilence. He recalls God intervening to save Israel from the oncoming armies of Pharaoh. 

Habakkuk trusts that calamity will come on the nation that conquers Judah, but that does not bring him joy. No matter that all seems to be failing around him, his joy will come from God.

What Habakkuk waited for, we have seen in Jesus. God served the enslaved Israelite nation by coming as a mighty warrior, a liberator. Jesus enacted a different kind of Exodus from a different kind of slavery. He attacked sin and death itself, not by becoming a warrior but by becoming a servant.

Jesus also marched out, with his face set like flint toward those he came to save and what he came to do. But instead of bringing with him destruction and plagues, he brought compassion and healing. Instead of girding himself with armor and taking up weaponry, he stripped himself and took up a towel. Instead of slaying the first-born of Egypt, Jesus, the only begotten son of the Father, offered himself to be slain.

And just like Pharoah rushed into the parted sea with his armies, thinking he had won, Satan must have thought the cross a moment of victory. Instead, it was the instrument of his destruction.

Habakkuk wanted God to make himself known, and he has done so in the person of Jesus. Jesus is our perfect and complete picture of what God is like. He is still among us as one who serves and we are to be like him.

May we serve him well by serving others. Worldly leaders will continue to puff themselves up. Kings will continue to abuse their power. Darkness will continue to wage a futile war against light. But as for us, we will rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God our Savior.

May the Sovereign Lord be your strength, making your feet like those of a deer, to go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3.18-19; Psalm 18.33)

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to you, and you restored me to health. — Psalm 30.1-2

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Habakkuk 3 (Listen – 2:59)
Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)

Read more about End of Year Giving and Supporting our work
We need and pray for donors of all amounts, and for those who can donate every month as well as those who donate once-a-year.

Read more about Seeking God’s Servant
This “servant song” foreshadows Christ as the Servant whom the Father will raise up for His purposes.

The Context of The Widow’s Mite

Luke 20.47; 21.2-4, 6
They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely…
He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.””…
“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”…

Reflection: The Context of The Widow’s Mite
By John Tillman

Many lessons about the widow’s mite focus on how beautiful her faith is. 

The widow’s faith is beautiful because it is centered on God, not on an institution that is corrupted by sinful leadership. Her gift is beautiful because it shows how deep her faith goes—all the way down to her last pennies. Her gift is beautiful because it shows where her treasure truly lies.

We should praise the widow’s faith, as Jesus did, but taken in context, this scripture has more to say about unscrupulous religious leaders than about generous poor people. It tells us that judgment is coming on leaders who take advantage of the poor. 

In Luke and in Mark, the widow enters in the middle of a scene where Christ is confronting the religious leaders’ materialism and hypocrisy and, just afterward, tells his disciples that the Temple they value so much will be torn down and destroyed.

Luke includes the detail that Jesus “looked up” and saw the widow’s deed in the midst of his teaching. The words just off of his lips are ones of judgement on religious leaders who “devour widows’ houses.” When Jesus points out the widow, he is showing us that his meaning is not metaphorical. The widow’s story gives us someone to emulate in faith, but also points out someone we should serve with action.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened to the widow. Some propose that God would miraculously provide for her. If forced to conjecture, I pray that one of Christ’s disciples, being as concerned about the destruction of the widow’s life as about the destruction of the Temple, would take her in. Sometimes miracles are simply disciples taking practical action. (I like to imagine that perhaps it was Mark.)

The bright light of the widow’s faith shines within the darkness of hypocrisy and abuse. What does the Spirit of Christ speak to you in the light of her faith? 

Are we like the religious leaders? Are we projecting piety while living extravagantly?

Are we like the rich? Are we giving because it looks good or until we feel good?

Are we like the disciples? Are we over impressed with wealth and success, equating it with God’s favor?

Can we learn to live like the widow? Are we able to live in faith, despite our systematic victimization, despite our poverty, and despite the existence of corruption? 

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Let your loving-kindness be my comfort, as you have promised to your servant. Let your compassion come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight. — Psalm 119.76-77

Today’s Readings
Exodus 19 (Listen – 4:04)
Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 20 (Listen – 3:21), Luke 23 (Listen – 6:39)
Exodus 21 (Listen – 4:44), Luke 24 (Listen – 6:16)

Thank You!
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Read more from A Cry to God for the Poor from Zimbabwe :: Worldwide Prayer
It grieves us and must grieve you that so many defenseless people live without shelter, clean water, primary healthcare, education, food. Help us, Lord Jesus, to care and share with the less privileged the material resources you have graciously blessed us with.

Read more about Good News to the Poor
Our manifestation of Christ will be in direct proportion to our acknowledgement of needing him more than we need our comforts, our possessions, our luxuries, or even our daily bread.

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