O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 15:22–16:16; Psalm 82; Romans 11:25–36
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2kNMlfU
Although most Lutherans, unfortunately, have not reclaimed the ancient service of the Vigil of Easter on Holy Saturday, it is a beautiful service full of meaning, light and transition. Within the service, worshipers move from the somber mood of Good Friday and Jesus in the tomb on Saturday, to the moment of Jesus’ resurrection from death, with bells, joyful singing and the sanctuary going from darkness to full light.
The prayer of thanksgiving begins with a blessing of the new Paschal candle, which will remind us throughout the seven weeks of Easter—and at baptisms and funerals—that Christ is the Light, risen and living. The prayer continues, speaking about that Holy Saturday night:
This is the night in which, in ancient times, you delivered our forebears, the children of Israel, from the land of Egypt; and led them dry-shod, through the Red Sea. This is the night in which all who believe in Christ are rescued from evil and the gloom of sin, are renewed in grace and holiness, by the rising brightness. This is the night in which, breaking the chain of death, Christ arises from hell in triumph. O night, truly blessed which alone was worthy to know the time and the hour wherein Christ arose again from hell! O night, truly blessed in which heaven and earth are joined—things human and things divine. (Lutheran Book of Worship)
Paul writes, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Who could have known, or imagined, or expected how God would send his Son to be the Word made flesh? Who, then, could have conceived that this Son would be crucified for the sins of the world? And then, the great reversal, his resurrection on the third day!
We can only say, “Thanks be to God for his immeasurable gift in Jesus Christ!” In the Great Vigil of Easter, we call upon choirs of angels and the Church, saying,
Rejoice, now, all heavenly choirs of angels, and celebrate the divine mysteries with exaltation; and, for the victory of so great a King, sound the trumpet of salvation. Be glad also, O mother Church, clothed with the brightness of such a light, and let this house resound with the triumphant voices of the peoples. Wherefore, dearly beloved, who stand in the clarity of this bright and holy light, join with me, I ask you, in praising the loving kindness of almighty God; through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and rules with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.