This past Sunday our choir sang one of my favorite Lenten anthems – Lamb of God by Twila Paris. I have sung this myself in a few choirs over the years and heard it in worship many times and every time I hear it I am wrapped up in the beautiful imagery that is found in the lyrics of this piece. The lyrics describe the beautiful and painful sacrifice of Christ, which was made on our behalf and the amazing love and grace, we receive through Christ.
Now, I know that some of the imagery of this anthem may not seem beautiful on the surface. In fact, there are moments that seem gruesome and outright disgusting. Yet, those moments are why I love this piece, because it is the meaning behind the words that are so rich and deep. In particular, the chorus or refrain of the song goes like this, “Oh Lamb of God, Sweet lamb of God. I love the Holy Lamb of God. Oh wash me in His precious Blood. My Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.”
(If you want to hear the song performed here is a link to another church’s choir singing this anthem)
Being washed in Jesus’ blood does not sound at all like a nice relaxing bubble bath – it sounds weird and the visual is horrifying. But a long time ago I learned just how precious this idea is. The idea of being washed in the blood of the lamb actually has its roots in farming – sheep farming to be exact. Tragically, there are times when a mother will die during childbirth or shortly after leaving behind an orphaned lamb. This orphan now needs a new mother, but another sheep might be reluctant to adopt a child that is not hers. In some cases, the orphaned lamb is washed in the blood and birthing fluids from the adoptive mother so that the lamb smells like her own. When we are washed (mercifully we are metaphorically washed) in the blood of Christ we are being claimed as God’s beloved child. We are being grafted to our heavenly Father and adopted as a child of God. Just like Jesus is the Son of God so we are made daughters and sons of God.
Now, God created you and me and called us good. When we are washed in the blood of the lamb we become twice chosen by God. As we make this journey into Holy Week and follow the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ, we share in the scared journey that brought us into right relationship with God and which reclaimed us as one of God’s own beloved children. Washed in the sacrifice of Christ’ blood we are made new and we are claimed and we are known.