Last week, Lula and I attended a Lenten service at Hamburg’s St. Michaelis, which was built in 1647 and now belongs to the Protestant “state church” (EKD). As we stepped into the beautiful edifice, some 150 feet long and 130 feet wide, a sign read: “Lenten service in the chancel.” We proceeded through the cavernous yet museum-like nave, virtually devoid of human life. Stepping up to the chancel, we sat down on chairs that had been set up facing the ornate baptismal font. I counted a total of 19 attendees—in a church that holds 2,000. The service began with an organ recital, followed by two hymns, one of which was “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” (“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”). The lyrics were penned by 17th century Lutheran pastor Paul Gerhardt who beautifully describes *why* Jesus had to die: “What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered Was all for sinners’ gain; Mine, mine was the transgression, But Thine the deadly pain. Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve Thy place; Look on me with Thy favor, And grant to me Thy grace.” The Gospel reading was John 19:16-30, the passage that includes Jesus’ famous exclamation, “It is finished.” What a rich phrase and springboard for a fine sermon! Sadly, all we heard was a vague statement on the sorry state of the world. I felt like a starving and thirsty person who has been handed a can of food and a bottle of wine, but who has neither a can opener nor corkscrew—and must remain hungry and parched. At the same time, thank God for pastors who can also write hymns. Even if all else in the service fails, they will still “deliver the goods,” crushing us with the Law and making us alive again with the precious Gospel. Sure enough, Pastor Gerhardt saved that service in his 6th stanza, which we sang in conclusion: “My Savior, be Thou near me, When death is at my door; Then let Thy presence cheer me, Forsake me nevermore! When soul and body languish, O leave me not alone, But take away mine anguish By virtue of Thine own!” (Engl. transl. ©1941, CPH).