We have chosen LSB 683, Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me, as the seasonal hymn for the AD 2021 Lawrencetide portion of the long Trinity season. Lawrencetide begins with the August 10 commemoration of Lawrence (225-258), Deacon and Martyr, and ends with the September 29 Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. During this time, we remember God’s gift to Lawrence of deep compassion for the poor, and His grace that enabled the Deacon to continue steadfast in the Confession of the Church to the point of suffering an excruciatingly painful death, all in good cheer. Thus, our overall emphasis in Lawrencetide is on sanctification, love of God, and good works which follow from His grace and mercy toward us. Of note, the hymn is also Hymn of the Day for Trinity 13. The Gospel reading that day includes the parable of the Good Samaritan, which reminds us that when we were dead in our sin, Jesus rescued us in Baptism. He brought us into His Church, to be cared for by His called and ordained servant, our Pastor, through His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation given in His services to us. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we receive these gifts as our own, and are free to do truly good works in sacrificial love to our neighbor.
Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me beautifully picks up on the Lawrencetide emphasis. The first stanza begins with a reminder to our Lord Jesus of His limitless love to us, which is beyond human understanding. The stanza continues with an appeal to our Savior to unite our thankful hearts to Him in mystical union, that we have no other gods but Him. As you sing these words, remember that in His Divine Services to us, He unites us to Himself! In this manner we are sanctified, namely declared holy, set apart for Him. The second stanza continues with a reflection on what this mystical union means for us. We pray that nothing but Jesus’ pure love dwell in our souls and possess us, being our joy, treasure and crown. Remembering that Jesus’ love is sacrificial (agape) love shown to us by His death on the Cross to rescue us from our sins, we ask for His grace that we turn away from our cold inward focus to fervent sacrificial love toward our neighbors, being His daily bread to them. The third stanza continues with a focus on Jesus’ sacrificial love as the focus of our lives, our hope, indeed our very being. We ask His grace that it so remain and that we recognize it as our own, our dearest treasure. The final stanza concludes with the acknowledgement that in this fallen world, we will experience suffering, weakness and stormy times. After all, our Savior Himself faced these, as did countless of His followers who have gone before us, including Lawrence, and Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), author of this hymn. We pray that in those times, we too receive our Good Shepherd’s gift to persevere in His sacrificial love, and in the end follow Him to an eternity by His side.
We are thankful that you are here with us today as we mark the transition to Lawrencetide, and pray God’s richest blessings on you as you receive His gifts in our midst today, gazing at the reminder of how He died, through the arrangement of the Jerusalem cross on the paraments. We further pray His favor on you as you serve your neighbors in the coming week in that sacrificial love that you have received from Him.