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What Luther Says

Holy Week 2020: Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, And Easter During The COVID-19 Pandemic

So, I just heard that our government officials are telling us to prepare for the week ahead since it will be "our Pearl Harbor" and "our 9/11" if not a week that will change every American's life if not change the world forever.

Let me tell you about a week that already changed the world. It's called "Holy Week" (a.k.a. Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) and it's the week that already changed the world forever.

Have I ever really let the full gravity of what took place during this week some 2,000+ years ago fall upon me this time of year? Have I ever really stopped like I should and deeply contemplated everything that Christ did for me back then? Have I ever really prayerfully considered every seemingly insignificant detail of "Passion Week" and how they all have such significant eternal implications?

I can assure you that this isn't some pious, self-righteous sentiment that I'm forcing myself to go through as though it were some kind of "good work" that's necessary from those who want to be "true Christians" this time of year or something.

I'm also not trying to suggest that an exercise like this is "necessary" since it would somehow "make me closer to God" or "make me more loved by God" either.

No, it's not any of that at all, because none of that is Biblical or true anyway.

However, I have been learning quite a bit about myself this Lent (especially since it's taken place at the exact same time as this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic), and one of the things I've been thinking a lot about lately (particularly in recent days and in light of today's pronouncements of "doom-and-gloom") is PRAYER.

Clearly, prayer is supposed to be an important and regular part of any Christian's life. It's incredible how easy it is for us to get prayer wrong though, isn't it? I know that for me, personally, prayer is something I've always struggled with and continue to struggle with. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but it's true even after all these years as a Christian.

One thing I've realized about myself this Lent is how I need to be more "intentional" about the time I spend in prayer as well as the content of my prayers, because I can be rather lazy and lackadaisical about them for far too long (not to mention how I can sometimes fall into the trap of the irreverent "J Word/We Just" prayers and the repetitive "Ex Corde" prayers; see Matthew 6:5-8).

Of course, Jesus Himself gave us His model for prayer when He gave us "The Lord's Prayer" that we all know and love, and so you can never go wrong with that one.

Still, whether this is going to be a week like no American has ever experienced before due to COVID-19, due to the annual though unusual celebration of Holy Week, or due to some mix of both, I want to try to take the proper posture and mindset as we continue through this upcoming week.

From my Lutheran Book of Prayer: "Lord Jesus, compassionate Savior, plead for me in the hour of trial. You know my weaknesses and shortcomings; I cannot hide my sins from You. Pray for me, gracious Redeemer, lest I deny You. O Lord, You know that I have promised to be faithful to You, and nevertheless I have again and again sinned and offended You with my many transgressions and broken pledges. I am ashamed of myself. Yet I come to You, for there is no other Savior from sin. I have denied You, if not by word, then by my actions and conduct. O Lord, look upon me in mercy, and forgive me all my sins. I have not always confessed You to the world nor spoken of the hope within me. Gracious Savior, in Your great love, forgive me. Do not let me go on in my sin. Look into my heart, and make me ashamed of myself and truly penitent. O Lord, You know that I love You. I am Yours. Help me to be more faithful, more devout, and more zealous. In this Holy Week, lead me to a deeper appreciation of the great sacrifice that was necessary for my redemption. And, Lord, in Your mercy look upon all Your erring, sinning, straying children and bring them back and restore them to grace. Draw us all to You with Your constraining love, and keep us steadfast, unfaltering, and true. Hear my petitions and prayers. Amen."

How beautiful was that!?! Now that's what I call "Christ-centered" and "cross-focused" with Law and Gospel both included too!

Whatever this next week has in store for you, for me, for all mankind, let's remember that our eternal fate is what's most important and that God is still in complete control even when the world seems so out of control lately, and He invites us to pray to Him regularly, knowing precisely what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8).

How do we know this?

Matthew 10:28 (ESV) "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." 
Philippians 2:10-11 (ESV) "every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

So pray! As one Pastor put it: "Prayer expects great things of God. Prayer is an act of faith that storms the very gates of heaven, but not merely in the forlorn hope that perhaps God might hear our prayer and answer. Prayer is the confidence to take God at His word expecting great gifts from Him, because He has promised to give us such things. Prayer expects great things of God not because prayer is anything great in and of itself. Prayer expects great things of God because our gracious God is great. God has promised to hear our prayer and grant us every blessing. Our problem is not that we ask for too much from God but in our timidity and unbelief we ask for far too little."

Lent. Holy Week. Easter.

This Holy Week, let's expect great things from God whenever we hear the truth proclaimed throughout the week ahead as it enters our ears and rests upon our heart, mind, and soul.

Let's expect to hear about the undeserved gift of a sinless Messiah Who came into this world to become sin so that He could save us from all our trespasses and transgressions against God's Law.

Let's expect to hear about Jesus Christ Who chose to willingly die for all of us so that we could be reconciled with the Lord, reconciled unto justification, salvation, redemption, sanctification and to eternal life.

Let's expect to hear how we need to commemorate with reverence everything from Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, to His Last Supper with his beloved Apostles, to His betrayal by one of His own, to His scandalous persecution, suffering, and torture, all the way to His death upon the cross leading to His victorious resurrection for you, for me, for all of mankind.

No, prayer is not a "Means of Grace" or a means of personal revelation either, but it is a means of communicating our love and thankfulness to God for all He's done and all He continues to do for us in and through His one and only Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who is forever the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

I will pray that this lengthy commentary will give you pause this Holy Week and that it also helps you to orient your thoughts Biblically as we meditate upon the week that already changed the world forever -- no matter what does or doesn't happen in the days ahead due to COVID-19.

1 John 5:14 (ESV) "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." 
Romans 12:12 (ESV) "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."

In a Lutheran layman's terms, grace and peace to you and yours and may God continue to bless you all this Holy Week and beyond!

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just your average everyday Christian, Corporate Healthcare Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as 'an informal Public Journal of sorts' about my own experiences and journey." So if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, "Praise the Lord! Thanks be to God!" but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor. Trust, but always verify. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this lengthy disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to "Confessional Lutheranism" and one who recently escaped an American-Evangelical-Non-Denominational mindset a little more than 6 years ago now despite being a Christian my whole life. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way back into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but so that I can also repent of my sin and learn the whole truth myself. With that in mind, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran B-A-S-I-C-S was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little more "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavily influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical demanding I correct them or take them down entirely, but because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I will defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean by that! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#Trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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