Today is a special day on the liturgical calendar. Today is March 25. We are exactly 9 months from Christmas. Today is Annunciation Day. The day that Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would be the mother of the Savior. As a Lutheran, I do not worship Mary, but I do recognize that she was indeed favored by God. Also, I recognize this as the day that Jesus humbled Himself, left His throne of glory, and began His redeeming work here on earth with us.
Sunday is Palm Sunday. The day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. People praised him and sang Hosannas to Him. How the tables would turn on Him in just a few short days.
Yesterday I engaged in a small debate over on another blog. There is a big push in the Lutheran church to move to more contemporary worship. As you can probably guess by the tone of my blog, I am not big into the contemporary songs. I find them shallow, and most definitely non-Lutheran. I do not regret my decision to engage the author. It has been something that I have needed to say publicly for a long time. I think my church is losing what it means to be Lutheran. But I also have to acknowledge that sometimes I am arrogant and place my love of hymns in a place too high. I should not worship my hymns. Having acknowledged that, I do still think the hymns and liturgy are more appropriate.
What does it mean to be Lutheran? Being Lutheran we point people to Christ using the Gospel and the Means of Grace (The Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism). God does everything for us. He comes to us in those places. He does not come to us outside of His Word or the Sacraments. He does not come to us in our feelings because He knows that our feelings are like the wind moving in every direction. We need something solid and unchanging. His word fits that requirement.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of my Mom’s death. She will have been gone one year. My emotions have been across the board this past year. If I had believed that God spoke to me in my feelings, I would be sure that He didn’t love me. The suffering that I witnessed would lead me to believe that God doesn’t care about His people.
Two nights before my mom died, she was somehow able to throw up the contents of her lungs which had been slowly filling up. It was the most horrible thing I have ever witnessed. As we cleaned her up, my mom looked at me with such desperation that I sobbed. She could not tell me how she felt. She could only look at me. I can still see her looking at me sometimes. Thankfully a year later when this vision comes, I am able to replace that look with one of her joyful smiles for I know that she is living in incredible joy.
So tell me. How can I after witnessing such misery and pain walk into a church and tell God what I plan to do for Him? I want to do nothing! I couldn’t even if I wanted to. How much better is it to walk in and be reminded what He has done for me? And I need to be reminded over and over again.
That is what it means to be Lutheran.
Today instead of giving you a traditional Lenten hymn, I am giving you the hymn that Mom held onto while she was sick. She told me that when she got her diagnosis, it was the first thing that popped in her head. She said, “There is it was. I walk with Jesus all the way.” He was with her. She never doubted it. Ever. She was an amazing example of what it means to trust in Jesus.
“I Walk in Danger All the Way”
by Hans A. Brorson, 1694-1764
Translated by Ditlef G. Ristad, 1863-1938
1. I walk in danger all the way.
The thought shall never leave me
That Satan, who has marked his prey,
Is plotting to deceive me.
This foe with hidden snares
May seize me unawares
If e’er I fail to watch and pray.
I walk in danger all the way.
2. I pass through trials all the way,
With sin and ills contending;
In patience I must bear each day
The cross of God’s own sending.
Oft in adversity
I know not where to flee;
When storms of woe my soul dismay,
I pass through trials all the way.
3. Death doth pursue me all the way,
Nowhere I rest securely;
He comes by night, he comes by day,
And takes his prey most surely.
A failing breath, and I
In death’s strong grasp may lie
To face eternity for aye.
Death dost pursue me all the way.
4. I walk with angels all the way,
They shield me and befriend me;
All Satan’s power is held at bay
When heavenly hosts attend me;
They are my sure defense,
All fear and sorrow, hence!
Unharmed by foes, do what they may,
I walk with angels all the way.
5. I walk with Jesus all the way,
His guidance never fails me;
Within His wounds I find a stay
When Satan’s power assails me;
And by His footsteps led,
My path I safely tread.
In spite of ills that threaten may,
I walk with Jesus all the way.
6. My walk is heavenward all the way;
Await my soul, the morrow,
When thou shalt find release for aye
From all thy sin and sorrow.
All worldly pomp, begone!
To heaven I now press on.
For all the world I would not stay;
My walk is heavenward all the way