March 22, 2013

The Christ hymn

By Eva Lapp, a sophomore peace, justice and conflict studies major from Goshen, Ind.
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:5-11 (NRSV)

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).

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:5-11 (NRSV)
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
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.



Comments (13)

  1. The mind of Jesus is spirit. Spirit of God. The SPIRIT of all humanity that is love. Of every race, color, religion, sex; felt, but not seen, though present. Thank you God.

    Flo Harnish March 23, 2013 |
  2. Thank you, thank you. I read this at 3:00 in the morning. Very helpful. I was having a so-called “dark night of the soul.”

    Steve Cornwell March 23, 2013 |
  3. This passage points out that exploitation in any form is incompatible with following Christ. Would that more self-styled “Christians” understood that.

    Mary-Alice Shemo March 23, 2013 |
  4. Thank you for your powerful words this morning…truly YOU have chosen the perfect major. Your message has tears streaming down as I remember this scripture from my childhood days in my Indiana home church. May this new day be a blessing to YOU as YOU have been to me this morning!

    Karen Ellis March 23, 2013 |
  5. The scripture verses I memorized in sunday-school and bible-school remain with me much longer than those I try to memorize today. I encourage teachers of young children to include memorizing in their requirements.

    Mary K. Mishler March 23, 2013 |
  6. Dear Eva, Thank you for choosing this awesome passage from Phllipians. I was always awestruck by the utter humility of the Son of God. I wrote my own reflection in a time of great mental distress. I send you the final lines:Is there no Good Friday for us? Oh, but
    Good Friday is for sinner-turned-saints,
    which we are not, and cannot be,
    for we are lower than sinners,
    and nothing may descend further than our nothingness.
    The mistake of creation, the uncouth freaks
    that were not intended, with no place amid
    the myriad galaxies, unloved of every heart,
    the ugly laughing stock of beauteous angels.

    No Good Friday for us?
    Be there no man or beast or dead wood sliver
    or grain of sand to breathe with us our darkness,
    to share our despicable state, or taste
    the shame of our condition and, sharing, spread
    their disgrace like a mantle over ours,
    and ours be gathered unto theirs?
    Be there no one to stoop so low
    and be one of us,
    to give us a Good Friday without
    a right of our presuming?

    Be there no one? No one at all?

    Oh, my nothingness, my utter, utter emptiness!
    Only by a deeper emptiness can mine redeeméd be .

    Be there such nothingness, Oh, another emptiness,
    the Totally Other Emptiness… to fill mine?

    Did I hear a voice say: “I am He”?

    – Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet March 23, 2013 |
  7. The Philippians 2 passage is like Paul’s reference in Romans and Corinthians to the contrast and parallel between Adam and Jesus, or the Adamic race and the Christ race. Both Adam and Christ are created in the image of God, but whereas Adam failed in obedience, Christ obeyed, as a result of which Adam fell but Christ was exalted.

    Marlin Jeschke March 23, 2013 |
  8. Thanks, Eva!

    Rachel Nafziger Hartzler March 23, 2013 |
  9. This is a favorite of mine, too. I have pondered the words often —explotation, emptying, humbling, and exaltation, —- knees bowing, tongues confessing, Jesus Christ is Lord. Glory to God.

    Irene March 23, 2013 |
  10. At the most helpful moments I do have Bible verses come to mind that I learned as a child . They are unexpected treasures of solace or comfort, prodding or affirmation. I am grateful someone too time with me in my childhood.

    Madeline G March 23, 2013 |
  11. Well said, Eva! Thanks for being you.

    Mary Jo Short March 23, 2013 |
  12. Thank you, Eva. You have inspired me to memorize that verse, too!

    Ethel Umble March 24, 2013 |
  13. Eva, I must tell you how much I enjoyed your devotional on memorizing Bible passages. I have been a Christian for over 50 years now. I gave my life to Jersus in November, 1977 during a Billy Graham crusade. The Billy Graham organization offered some “Getting Started Literature” which I promptly received and included with it was a little packet of scripture memory cards which were Billy’s favorite scriptures for new Christians. What a treasaure. I quickly memorized them and in fact still have the packet today. ( I think I am to give it to my grandson who is 11 years old and just made his decision to walk with Jesus). I later enrolled in the Navigator’s Topical Memory System which systematically teaches you how to digest 60 of the most important scriptures
    Christians need to have at their recall. Both have been an unbeliebeable help to me in finding scripture in the Bible when I needf it. Your time growing up memorizing scripture remindes me of my younger years and the years we had with our children who competed in scripture memory contests. God bless you for your wonderful devotional on Philippians 2:5-11, The Christ hymn, March 22, 2013.

    Michael Huntington March 25, 2013

    Michael Huntington March 25, 2013 |