One of my absolute favorite things to do in ministry is teach Confirmation classes. I have a lot of reasons why I love confirmation, but one of those reasons is that I really like the material covered. Confirmation classes go through and highlight the most foundational beliefs that we hold. Confirmation covers what we believe and who we are as Christians and as United Methodists.
One of the topics that is covered towards the end of Confirmation is a topic I particularly enjoy, and that is church history. To know who we are and what we belong to, I think it is important to know where we came from. I also like delving into this topic because as Christians and as United Methodists we have a rich history. The tradition we are rooted in is a deep heritage that is full of surprises, inspiration, and artifacts that can enhance our faith to this very day. One of these pieces of our Methodist heritage that I often turn to this time of year is a poem called Behold the Savior of Mankind.
These beautiful and profound verses were written by Samuel Wesley. Samuel was an Anglican priest in the 18th century. He is best known though as being the father of John and Charles Wesley, the brothers who started the Methodist movement. This poem amazingly survived a fire that completely destroyed the house. John Wesley saved the work and enshrined it into Methodist tradition when he included it in a hymnbook entitled A collection of Psalms and Hymns.
As we approach Easter this month, I wanted to share this poem with you. I encourage you to save it and read the words of Samuel Wesley on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, or Easter morning this month.
Behold the Savior of mankind
Nailed to the shameful tree!
How vast the love that Him inclined
To bleed and die for thee!
Hark how He groans while nature shakes
And earth’s strong pillars bend!
The Temple’s veil in sunder breaks,
The solid marbles rend.
‘Tis done; the precious ransom’s paid;
“Receive my soul!” He cries.
See where He bows His sacred head;
He bows His head and dies.
But soon He’ll break death’s envious chain
And in full glory shine.
0 Lamb of God, was ever pain,
Was ever love, like Thine?