The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Words matter. Not as much as people who write or say them publicly might wish, but words matter. It mattered when John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It matters how we talk about Jesus and how we understand who Jesus is.
If you attend the 10:30 service, you might notice that we’re changing the words that we sing after the bread is broken at Holy Communion (called the Fraction Anthem). For the last several weeks, we have been singing,
“The disciples knew the Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
The bread which we take, alleluia, is the communion of the body of Christ.
One body are we, alleluia, for though many we share one bread.”
But for Lent we’re changing to,
“Jesus, Lamb of God: have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins: have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer, redeemer of the world: give us your peace, give us your peace.”
Other than our tradition of not saying or singing alleluia during Lent, neither text is required for a particular part of the church year. But Lent is different and words matter. Lent is the time when we give a little more attention to the Passion of Our Lord. And it’s also a time when we are invited to consider that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the sacrifice of God Incarnate given to God as an expression of purest love.
Almost every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we do so with a priest standing at a big piece of furniture. Some call it a table and invite people to a common meal. Others call it an altar and invite people to receive the broken and poured out body of Our Lord, sacrificed for us.
Words matter. If you want to know more, join us on Wednesday nights for Mother Jenna’s lenten series on the Holy Eucharist: What and Why?
image is a detail from Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (Ghent altarpiece) by Hubrecht and Jan van Eyck