Today’s Reading: Introit for the First Sunday in Lent
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (From the Introit for the First Sunday in Lent)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Tomorrow, on the First Sunday in Lent, many Lutheran churches will sing Martin Luther’s famous Reformation hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.” At first, you might think this hymn is being sung a little out of season. After all, we typically sing it on Reformation Sunday in October. Strange as it may seem at first, “A Mighty Fortress” is a perfect hymn for the First Sunday in Lent.
In this hymn, we sing against the devil. As we did at our Baptism, we continue to renounce all his works and all his ways. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. So, we pick up this hymn as our Lenten war cry. When the devil throws our guilt and sins back in our face, or when he hurls his fiery darts of temptation our way, we sing, “A mighty fortress is our God!” In Jesus, our crucified and risen King, the devil is done. The ancient dragon is defeated. The serpent’s head is trampled under the foot of Jesus crucified.
In this hymn, we echo the psalms: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Usually shadows are a bad thing. Dark deeds happen in the shadows. We live in the valley of the shadow of death. But the shadow of the Almighty is the shade of Jesus’ Cross. Let sin, death, the devil, and this fallen world rage around you: In the wounds and words of Jesus, you are safe, secure, and saved.
In this hymn we also sing of God’s sure and certain protection. The imagery of this hymn reflects the rich imagery of Scriptures, the psalms in particular. Throughout the psalms we find such beautiful, good, and true words like the ones we hear in Psalm 91. God is our mighty fortress. Jesus crucified is your refuge. His saving gifts of water, Word, Jesus’ Body and Blood are our safe haven. His Holy Church is your ark and your shelter from the storm. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
-Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz is pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Milton, WA.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.