Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lenten Devotional 2023 Preface

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine!
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend
(My Song is Love Unknown, LSB #430 v. 7)

As the season of Lent begins anew, we turn to a series of hymns that we have not visited since this time last year. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reactions concerning this section in the hymnal. Some of you really love these hymns. Others think they are all slow dirges that are boring you to death. What Pastor Belt and I hope to accomplish through this daily devotional is to deepen the appreciation of all groups for the beauty of our Lenten hymnody.

Hymns are stories. Specifically, the Lenten hymns tell most clearly the story of our salvation. These texts are sometimes ancient. “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” traces its origins back to Bernard of Clairvaux in the eleventh century. “Jesus, Refuge of the Weary” was written by Girolamo Savonarola in the fifteenth century. When we sing the story of our salvation through these Lenten hymns, we join the song of a Church that has been singing these words for hundreds of years.

These hymns remind us of the love of God shown to us in Jesus Christ. There are no events in human history more important than the death and resurrection of the Son of God. A renewed focus upon the cross fulfills what Paul says in the Epistle reading for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany: “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). This message is the very wisdom of God which shows us the salvation come down to earth in human flesh. Christ is the life of all the living. We are led to boast in the cross of Christ, our God. Powerful words with moving melodies. This is our rich treasury of Lenten hymnody.

If you don’t particularly love the season of Lent, I’m not convinced that this devotional will change your opinion. However, if you have not taken the time to examine the words we sing during these forty days, then this devotional is for you. In these words, we tell one another about the marvelous things that God has done in Christ. We tell the story of things that occurred in days gone by, but are still in strong effect today. To quote another popular Christian song: We love to tell the story of Jesus and His love. Pastor Belt and I pray that this devotional is a blessing to you and your faith. We commend it to you in the name of Christ.

Pastor Ryan Anderson
The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, February 5, 2023
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