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HYMNS FOR EASTER 5 “They’ll know we are Christians by our Love/Guds Sønn steg ned å tjene

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Text and Tune: Peter Scholtes (1938-2009)

(Copyright protection means I can’t print the text, but you will find it in the links).They'll know we are Christians by our Love

Guds Sønn steg ned å tjene/God's Son came here to serve us

Text: Jonas Anton Dahl (1849-1919). Tune: Anders Arrebo (1587-1637)

Jesus teaching the disciples. Duccio

Gpd’s Son came here to serve us

And give himself for us.

Just like a seed that’s planted,

He died and then arose.

The greatest of creation

Is not might from above,

But one who’s glad to serve us,

He wore a robe of love.

The highest in creation

Is not the eagle’s flight

But one whose heart is winging

To help their neighbors’ plight.

What joy to find God’s heaven

Among the least we see.

To lose life is to find it;

To give is to receive.

When serving you’ll find power,

When serving trust while you

Are sowing, fields will ripen

Into eternal blue.

When all of earth’s great wonders

Have crumbled down and died,

Then we shall see how hidden

Life was within the seed.

For love is what protects us

And all we know of God.

So plan while spring is moving

Your life toward those God loves.

Tr. Gracia Grindal

REFLECTIONS As the news of Jesus spread throughout Roman Empire, people looking at how Christians lived remarked “See how they love one another.” This song from the sixties uses that expression as its theme. For some it became a tiresome chorus that seemed to praise Christians for their goodness. Anyone who has survived a church fight might have reason to question the phrase. But it is among one of Jesus’ last and most important commands. He explains what that love means—just as I have served you, so you are to serve others. That is what love is all about.

Love, for Jesus, has almost nothing to do with feelings, it is all about deeds. He has just washed his disciples’ feet, to their surprise. A master who serves? That goes against everything the ancient world understood. Today, even if we have that phrase in our tradition, it goes against what we know.

Jesus washing his disciples feet Duccio

To love is to serve. That is the essence of the Christian faith. Those who expect to be served are going to be surprised at the end. When did we see you, they will ask at the last judgment, Jesus says in Matthew 25. When you served me. He shows us exactly how radical his gospel is in the washing of feet. Some scholars describe his kneeling down to do this as his worshiping his disciples.(The root of the word worship in English means giving worth to.) Kneeling down is to give honor to, gives worth to the one who is being served. In many ways, Jesus came to give us worth--which he did by loving us with a love we can barely fathom.

This last year, at the height of the pandemic, I ordered a dishwasher which was seven months late in being delivered. I paid extra to have the men who delivered it carry it up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. When they finally arrived, they could not take it up because their directions were clear—the steps up to our front porch counted as a flight. I started to get mad, but bit my tongue when one of them said, “You can’t believe how awful it is doing this. Because the manufacturers and companies are late, people take out their anger on us. We are not responsible for the delay or for our instructions.”

I immediately shut up and apologized.

The other day I heard someone talking about how the shut down during the pandemic would not have been possible even ten years before because then we didn’t have a laptop culture like we have now. Those of us with the means to work from home could do so because of a servant class that did our bidding. And we could yell at them when they didn’t do exactly what we wanted whether or not they could fulfill the tasks we demanded. This has opened up great chasms between the elite and lower classes.

It has rent the soclal fabric which we depend on for life.

They were doing a job for which they were being paid, and suffering my irritation. In my long life I have had jobs that many think of demeaning: cannery worker, cleaning lady and floor washer, so I have a memory of how they may have felt. It helps me understand why Jesus’ bending down to wash his disciples’ dirty feet appealed mightily to the simple folk in Rome, living from hand to mouth, slaves often suffering brutal treatment from their masters, watching their babies die of malnutrition, or falling ill from diseases rampant in the filthy water and hovels where they lived. They had a Savior who loved them enough to serve them, one who said his followers should serve others. And the Christians of every stripe did so. It changed the world.

The Gospel should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, Christians have said. The scripture for today and the songs say that in no uncertain terms. God himself in his own son came from heaven to serve us! It is the secret of the universe.

What joy to find God’s heaven

Among the least we see.

To lose life is to find it;

To give is to receive.


Born in Evanston, Illinois, Peter Scholtes attended Catholic schools in Oak Park. He served as parish priest in Chicago’s south side in the sixties. As a leader of a youth group, he wanted a song that spoke to the times, ecumenically and socially. He composed the song in a day and it became the song of the Chicago Civil Rights movement. Later he became a consultant for business organizations, and wrote the book The Team Handbook later deemed among the 100 Best Business Books of All Time. He was especially against practices like performance review which he said demoralized employees.

Jonas Dahl was a pastor in the Norwegian Seaman’s mission in Amsterdam. During his life he wrote over 250 hymns. He served as pastor in Trondheim, Kongsberg, Stavanger, and Oslo. This, along with, "Nå vandrer fra hver en verdens krok," are his most well known..


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Guds Sønn steg ned å tjene


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