Growing up, memorizing Bible passages never made sense to me. My experience at church and school was that I would repeatedly stumble through a passage until the words stayed in my mind and on my tongue just long enough that I could receive a golden sticker or a shining A+. Occasionally I would convince myself that the next time I would really study the passage and become a good Christian who could rattle off any number of memorized verses. But this spiritual discipline never became my “thing.”
Then this past fall I took a required Bible course here at Goshen College and, lo and behold, we had Scripture memorization quizzes. What a joy, I thought sarcastically. After slogging my way through several passages and fulfilling my grade expectation, I came across today’s passage, the Christ Hymn. I went through the same motions: memorize, take the quiz, get an A, forget the passage. But, a few weeks afterwards, I came across the passage again and wrote it in my journal. The next day I looked at it again and tested my memory skills to find that I could recite most of the passage!
The lilting nature of this hymn speaks to my poetic sensibilities. Memorizing this passage was natural and in these days and weeks of Lent I recover this passage each day as a reminder of my faith. It is a reminder of my decision in life to follow Christ and what that entails. It is a reminder that Christ comes in the name of God, that Jesus is God and thus his actions reflect God’s vision for humanity. As I relish each word and savor the gentle prayer-like movement of the verses, I remind myself that….
The blessed one comes in the name of the Lord and thus, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (2:5).
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.