I have thought about many things this past Lenten Season. This is the season in which Christians focus on their own sin and depravity and their great need of a Savior to pay for their sins. It is not a time where we do something in order to pay for our own sins. Rather, we look at Jesus, the God-Man who represents us before the Father and takes upon Himself the sins of the world.
As a new Lutheran this was my 2nd Lenten Season and yet it was the first one where I understood the season just a bit better. I am sure I have much more to learn but this year was intense.
Each day I tried to read through the Treasury of Daily Prayer and the Lent Season readings through the Old Testament, Epistles and Gospel readings. Each one focused on the ministry of Jesus in reconciling us to God. It was a time of deep reflection on the cost of my salvation and also of rejoicing in the God-Man who came to destroy death, sin and the devil.
It all culminated for me during the Maundy Thursday service. Our Pastor taught us about the real meaning of the Lord’s Supper and how Jesus served His students/disciples to the very end by washing their feet and giving them the Bread and Wine, teaching them This is my Body broken FOR YOU. This is my Blood poured out FOR YOU. Then, we the congregation were invited to come up to the altar and partake of His Body and Blood for the remission of our sins. I love when Pastor and an Elder will hand me the element and remind me that it is for “the forgiveness of YOUR sins.” Every time I partake of the True Body and Blood of our Lord I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed because He gives me of Himself and all the gifts He purchased for me in the salvation of my soul with grace and forgiveness.
Yet, I was not prepared for what came at the end of the service. You see, I am on the Altar Guild for church which means I help out with setting up the altar for the Lord’s Supper and all other duties needed. Well, Maundy Thursday is when, after the service, Pastor reads from Psalm 22 and those on the Altar Guild come to the front and strip the altar of everything; candles, plates, cups and altarware. We then cover it in black.
To try to share what went through my heart and mind, well, words fail me. We all moved quietly and quickly to strip the altar as tears welled up and my heart broke. It broke as I listened to the prophecy in Psalm 22 of our Lord’s Death and visually covered everything in black; black for my sins cost Him life; black because He died for MY sins; black because He would become sin so that I might become the righteousness of God IN HIM. I broke. The impact broke me. I did not expect this. Throughout the Lenten Season I was seeing more and more why Jesus came and now, through the black coverings I saw a very stark visual that my sins are even blacker than those altar coverings.
Then Easter came and EVERYTHING changed.
Click here to listen: https://youtu.be/XgX4Fuwg1oY
Now all the vault of heav’n resounds
In praise of love that still abounds;
“Christ has triumphed! He is living!”
Sing, choirs of angels, loud and clear!
Repeat their song of glory here;
“Christ has triumphed!
Christ has triumphed!”
Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands
And brings us life from heaven.
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of alleluia
Here our true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong His love---to save us.
See, His blood now marks our door;
Faith point to it; death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us.
We sang songs of triumph that morning. Scatter the Darkness, Break the Gloom, Christ the Lord is Risen Today because Jesus Lives! The Victory’s Won. Death is conquered, sins paid for and Satan defeated. As the hymn says “This shall be my confidence (LSB #490).
Forty days spent at reflecting at my need of a Savior because of my sins; one night reflecting on the dark, stark and black coverings of the Altar lifted to heights of joy and gratitude because Death no longer can appal me, death’s reign is done. (#490).
He Lives and Reigns and so shall I live. Jesus has conquered sin, death and the Devil rising victoriously from the grave. He did this for me; He did this for you. Believe and be baptized and receive the forgiveness of your sins rejoicing that for you too sin, death and the Devil are now vanquished foes.