Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Now what do we do? Our Lenten Journey is over. We traveled to the upper room on Maundy Thursday with Jesus and his disciples. We heard Jesus say those powerful, effective words that are still effective when we hear them on Sunday mornings, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins” (Mt 26:28). We traveled to the foot of the cross on Good Friday and heard Jesus utter a lonely cry of abandonment, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mk 15:34)? We heard the words of finality that Jesus spoke with his last breath, “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30), paying in full the price for our Sin that separates us from God. And we traveled to the empty tomb to hear again about the group of women that traveled there early on the first day of the week to find it empty. We heard once more the words of the angels at the empty tomb, “He is not here, but has risen” (Lk 24:6). The final, culminating Day of the Resurrection is over. Now what do we do?
At Atonement we are in the midst of our annual Lenten journey to the cross of Christ and the empty tomb. Just as Israel in the Old Testament wandered in the wilderness for forty years and our Lord Jesus Christ endured the temptations of Satan for forty days in the wilderness, so now we, the new Israel, are in the midst of our “forty days.”
The season of Lent is a multi-dimensional season in that it is shaped by the preaching of our Lord’s passion, penitiential relfection, and catechetical formation. Through the preaching of our Lord’s passion, penitential reflection, and catechetical formation, we are driven to humble repentance. Our hymnody also serves as a helpful aid in bringing about such repentance. One hymn that guides us in repentance through the Lenten Season is, “O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days.”
This particular hymn is a type of prayer. It is based upon Jesus’ successful battle with Satan and temptation in the wilderness. Since our Lord fought temptation and was successful, we pray in the first stanza that our Lord would inspire repentance within us as we battle with daily temptations. He who overcame Satan in the wilderness also claimed victory over the arch-enemy of God through his death on the cross and rising from the dead. He has freed us from our past and has the power to do so daily as we return to the promise of his forgiveness of sins granted to us in our baptisms.
In the second stanza of the hymn we pray for the courage, skill, and trust of Christ in God’s eternal Word. We pray that he who overcame Satan and temptation with the written Word of God would grant us the strength to do the same, even as we gather together to hear, study, learn, and inwardly digest his Word.
In the third stanza we pray for God to bring about godly contentment in his Word and Will. We pray that God would help us seek not our own will and desires first and foremost, but that we would trust firmly in him to meet our needs and be satisfied with his provision for our bodies and our souls.
Finally, in the fourth stanza we pray that God would continue to be with us, even as he has promised to be with us and to never leave or forsake us. We pray that he would guide us through our Lenten pilgrimage and our season of preaching on our Lord’s passion, penitential reflection, and catechetical formation. We pray that he would guide us and be with us through all our days, just as sure as he has freed us from our past. We pray that he do this so that when the final Easter dawns and our Lord returns, we join in heaven’s praise.
Atonement is ...
Atonement Lutheran Church is a Christ centered congregation that cares for the whole person with the Good News of Jesus Christ.