Easter Devotion

Easter Sunday

Awake, my heart, with gladness,
See what today is done;
Now, after gloom and sadness,
Comes forth the glorious sun.
My Savior there was laid
Where our bed must be made
When to the realms of light
Our spirit wings its flight.
LSB 467 st. 1

“Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.”
Isaiah 60:20

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

When the sun rose on that first Easter morning, do you think the women thought anything of it? We ourselves don’t tend to notice every sunrise. We simply expect it every morning, no matter how long or dark the previous night. We would certainly be surprised, however, if the sun never went down! But that is the promise we receive in the resurrection. Christ, the risen Son of God, is the shining source of our own resurrection and life, which never burns out. St. John reminds us, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

No matter how gloomy our days or lonely those long nights might be, the everlasting light of Christ continues to shine and give you life. Regardless of how darkened by sin our souls might be, Christ’s death and resurrection is the way He makes all things new. Together, we gladly await that final day when the glorious Son will return to end our days of mourning and transport us to the realms of light.

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, through the resurrection of Your Son, we have the same promise of life after death. Continually sustain us by His light and life during our dark days, as we await that final day when the sun will go down no more and Christ will be our light; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Ethan Stoppenhagen, Sem I)

Lent Devotion

Holy Saturday

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost:
Christ, the Rock of our salvation,
Is the name of which we boast;
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.
LSB 451 st. 4

“For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’”
Romans 10:11

Jesus lay in the tomb on this day, covered in a linen shroud. Just hours earlier He was exposed on the bloody cross, lifted high above the earth for all to see. He had been stripped of His clothes during the flogging and was naked. Such was the depth of His humiliation that He endured for all of us.

Hebrews 12:2 says he “scorned” the shame. More precisely the Greek word for scorn means to “consider of little value.” This means that in view of our salvation Jesus gladly and willingly endured the shame; in our day, we might equate this to saying “no big deal.” Jesus’ love for us outweighed the shame. In comparison to His love for us, it was “no big deal.” He did it so we would not be put to shame. Because of Him, our sins will not be exposed at the judgement on the Last Day. “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more” (Heb. 10:17).

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, though we have done many shameful things, we thank You that You have covered us in the righteousness of Your Son, who endured the shame of the cross for us. May we be mindful of this, not only in Holy Week, but every day of our lives, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Stuart Sultze, Alternate Route)

Lent Devotion

Good Friday

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
’Tis the Christ, by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
’Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
’Tis the true and faithful Word.
LSB 451 st. 1

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—”
Deuteronomy 18:15

What does it mean when Jesus is called a prophet? The Old Testament is a prophecy that leads to Him, so what purpose does Jesus have in prophesying to us? There is not a second Savior that will come after Him; Jesus is not going to give us a second law to follow. Looking back, the Law had been given to Moses and he is repeating it in Deuteronomy, but it was only by Christ that it would be fulfilled. In order to atone for our lack of observance of the Law, God would become incarnate and die for us. While Jesus, fully God and fully man, is dying on the cross—stricken, smitten, and afflicted—He speaks the words of life to all believers: “It is finished.” This is the Word of God incarnate that achieves our salvation and marks its completion.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, You call us by Your Word and keep us steadfast in Your truth. Help us to hear the words that You speak to us in Word and in Sacrament; the words that grant us life through Jesus’ death, and grant us hope through His resurrection. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Zachary Johnson, Sem I)

Lent Devotion

Maundy Thursday

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descending
Comes our homage to demand.
LSB 621 st. 1

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”
Revelation 1:7

Today is Maundy Thursday, the day in which our Lord instituted the Sacrament of His Holy Supper. Both our text and hymn today are somber reminders of the fact that Christ will return in judgment. And yet, in being read on Maundy Thursday, they become somber reminders that Christ likewise descends to us every Lord’s Day and gives Himself bodily to us in His Supper. Just as Christ’s return in glory will be met with fear and trembling by all the earth, so do we approach His holy table with all fear, trembling, and reverence.

Nevertheless, at both His return and supper we rejoice. For we know that in both we find our salvation.

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of Your holy Supper, for we know that through it we find true comfort and the confidence to stand before You on the last day. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

(Joshua Brandmahl, Sem I)

Lent Devotion

Wednesday in Holy Week

Your cross I place before me;
Its saving pow’r restore me,
Sustain me in the test.
It will, when life is ending,
Be guiding and attending
My way to Your eternal rest.
LSB 453 st. 7

“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
Hebrews 9:28

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14). What does it mean to wait for the Lord? Oftentimes the waiting is the hardest part. We wonder if God will ever come to deliver us from our sinful flesh and all the pains that come as a result of the sin that came when Adam fell. We often act as if God were still far off and distant from the sorrow we suffer today in ourselves and in the world around us.

However, God is not far off. He already came down to us in the flesh and lived among us. Jesus Christ lived in this sinful world but was completely without sin. He was crucified for our sin and then was raised to proclaim victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil. He ascended so that He would continue to be with us. He is with us in His Word preached and in His Sacraments administered. Christ has already defeated sin, and we receive the forgiveness of sins by His work through faith that grasps onto Him.

Now we faithfully wait for that day when Christ will return and deliver us once and for all. While we eagerly wait, He continues to be among us. He edifies us with His Word preached. He washes us of our sin in Holy Baptism. He feeds us with His very body and blood in His Supper. In all these ways Christ serves us and we perceive Him by faith so that, on that Last Day, we may behold Him in His glory with our own eyes.

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we cry to You by day and night to deliver us from the sin that plagues this world and our flesh. Grant us the peace that only You can provide that was won by Your Son on the cross and continues to sustain us through His Word and Sacraments. All of this we pray through the very same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Garrett Buvinghausen, Sem IV)

Lent Devotion

Tuesday in Holy Week

Your cords of love, my Savior,
Bind me to You forever,
I am no longer mine.
To You I gladly tender
All that my life can render
And all I have to You resign.
LSB 453 st. 6

“I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.”
Hosea 11:4

As a parent lovingly bends down to tie a shoe or kiss a scraped knee, our Lord bends down to protect us and provide for us. Christ did more than bend down. He came down. Christ took on human flesh in the incarnation and lived among us. During His earthly ministry, Jesus healed many people of diseases. In His loving kindness and mercy, Jesus suffered and died in our place on the cross. He overcame death in the Resurrection.

We continually stray from God’s will, going about our own sinful way. The Lord draws us in and leads us with “cords of kindness, with the bands of love” as He makes us His children in Baptism. He feeds us with His very own body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. Our sins are forgiven, and the Holy Spirit strengthens and preserves us in faith. No longer broken, we go into the world, loving and serving our neighbor.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, in Your mercy You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to repair the broken relationship caused by sin. Guide us to follow Your will and bring us to repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Kate Phillips, Deaconess Student)

Lent Devotion

Monday in Holy Week

Upon the cross extended
See, world, your Lord suspended.
Your Savior yields His breath.
The Prince of Life from heaven
Himself has freely given
To shame and blows and bitter death.
LSB 453 st. 1

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
1 Peter 2:21-24

Submission is one word that the world hates to hear because it’s not the way of the world. The world looks out for no one but itself. It asserts its power and dominance over and against all those who stand in its way because it sees submission as nothing but a sign of great weakness, powerlessness, and inferiority.

But this is not true for us who have been called by the cross of Christ! For we do not see submission as a shameful sign of inferiority, but as an act of love that we have been graciously called to serve in our stations in life. Whether we are husbands or wives, sons or daughters, workers or students, we willingly submit our freedom to care for those in need.

We learn such willing and self-sacrificial submission from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who left for us an example to follow when “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Christ’s willing self-sacrifice for us on the cross not only secured our forgiveness and salvation from the old evil foe, but also placed us on the path of becoming more Christlike, “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. [For] By his wounds you have been healed.”

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank and praise You for Your dear Son, who submitted Himself to You by bearing our sins in His body on the tree of the cross. We pray that You may ever direct our eyes to the cross in submission to You and one another, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Rob Ricard, Sem IV)

Lent Devotion

Palm/Passion Sunday

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, Thy pow’r and reign
LSB 441 st. 5

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’”
Revelation 11:15

As we enter Holy Week, our journey in Lent is ending. Jesus, who has slowly been journeying to the cross, is coming even closer to His death. Perhaps some of us are wondering how someone who will die in such a brutal way could be our King? If we had been left in charge of our own salvation, we probably would have managed it differently. The world looks for a mighty and political ruler who will smite all his foes in an act of great power to demonstrate his authority. But Jesus doesn’t follow our program.

He rides into the city in humility and is greeted with loud shouts of “Hosanna!” (save us). And He does save us. He journeyed to the cross to claim His throne, take His power, and reign for us. Our text tells us that, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

The kingdom of the world became Jesus’ when he entered the city and slayed the enemy of us all by His humble death on the cross where He trampled Satan under His feet. He came in humility because He did not come to smite His human enemies, which would have included us, but to save us from the power of sin. Now He reigns over heaven and earth. For this we can say, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign” (Rev. 11:17).

Let us pray: Almighty and ever living God, in Your tender love for humanity You sent Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our nature and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of His great humility. Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of His suffering and share in His resurrection; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Jordan Peiser, Sem I)

Lent Devotion

Graciously my faith renew;
Help me bear my crosses,
Learning humbleness from You,
Peace mid pain and losses.
May I give You love for love!
Hear me, O my Savior,
That I may in heav’n above
Sing Your praise forever.
LSB 440 st. 6

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:29

“Take my yoke upon you.” This invitation doesn’t sound very appealing by itself. A yoke should mean a burden, or at the very least implies that work is to be done. But Christ tells us that His yoke is where we can find rest for our souls. It is in Christ that we find “Peace mid pain and losses.”

Our terrible burden of sin was removed from our shoulders as Christ bore it for us upon the cross. Christ’s yoke is light because He is bearing the weight for us. Christ continues to bear our burdens, guiding us with His yoke to learn of His gentleness and humbleness. Salvation was won for us when Christ died on the cross. The work has been done so that the yoke we take upon us is no longer a burden, but rest in Christ.

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we could not bear the burden of our sin alone, but You sent Your Son, Jesus, to bear it in our stead. Let us rest in the comfort that is found in His gentle yoke, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Matthew Christian, Sem I)

Lent Devotion

If my sins give me alarm
And my conscience grieve me,
Let Your cross my fear disarm;
Peace of conscience give me.
Help me see forgiveness won
By Your holy passion.
If for me He slays His Son,
God must have compassion!
LSB 440 st. 5

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
Psalm 86:15

No clearer demonstration of God’s abundant steadfast love and faithfulness will be found than that which is seen on the cross. Abraham demonstrated his faith and love toward God by his willingness to slay his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah, a sacrifice that goes uncompleted. God, however, shows His love and compassion toward all of mankind by slaying His Son on the cross on Mount Calvary, the only truly complete sacrifice ever offered.

As we progress through Lent and even the stanzas of this hymn, we are led to ponder the excruciating suffering and death that our Lord underwent in His passion. We are also prompted in our meditations on Christ’s suffering to see that our sin is the cause of Christ’s suffering and death, and to view our Lord’s passion with repentant grieving.

However, when we reflect upon our sinfulness, our conscience becomes stricken with guilt. It ought to. What other response is appropriate when realizing that we have broken God’s law and the price Christ had to pay for it?

When we are struck with such grief, we are to turn to that very cross of Christ to find peace of conscience in His suffering and death. For that indeed is where Christ won forgiveness for us. That is where God demonstrated His steadfast love and faithfulness toward us, showing His compassion. For any father willing to give up his only son to save those who rebelled against him, must have compassion.

Let us pray: Lord God, in the suffering and death of Jesus, You show us Your great compassion. Let us find peace for our consciences in the cross of Christ when troubled with sin, that the threats and terrors of the evil one may have no power over us. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(Emmett Bartens, Sem I)