We have chosen LSB 911, Lord, This Day We’ve Come to Worship, as this year’s Eastertide seasonal hymn. The hymn is grounded in the Gospel reading for the evening service on the Feast of the Resurrection (as well as Easter Monday), namely the post-Resurrection narrative in Luke 24:13-35, about the encounter of the two men on the road to Emmaus with the risen Jesus. In this pericope, or cutting from Scripture, and in this hymn, we see laid out the pattern of our Divine Service, namely that of teaching from God’s Word followed by eating in Table fellowship with Him, and with each other. The hymn opens with the invocation of the Holy Trinity, reminding us that, having been cleansed in the waters of Baptism, we may confidently approach God, receive His gifts and return our sacrifices of prayer, praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 10:19-25; 1 Peter 2:4-5). Like the men at Emmaus, we ask our Lord to be present with us (Luke 24:29), knowing now fully that He is the One inviting us and He is the Host. The second stanza further reminds us that, having been justified, or declared right with the Father, through our Lord Jesus’ Resurrection (Romans 4:25), we are free to praise Him by receiving His gifts of Word and Sacrament, as have Christians from the time of the birth of the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2:42). The third stanza recalls the impact of God’s Word on the men at Emmaus; how their hearts burned, and how, once they fully understood what they had heard, were no longer shaken, but confidently returned to Jerusalem and proclaimed the risen Lord to the eleven (Luke 24:25-27, 32-34). We pray that in turn, His Word will, “enrich our spirit,” and, “give us strength to do (His) will,” and constantly remind us of the glory that awaits us on the Last Day, no matter how bad things seem in this life. In His Resurrection, our Lord has conquered death. Thus, although we too will die, we too will once again be raised in glory (1 Corinthians 15:12-57)! The fourth stanza recalls how our Lord was made known to the Emmaus men in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:30-31, 35). We too meet our blessed Savior at His Table, and pray that we receive His very Body and Blood for, “strength and comfort,” namely the forgiveness of sins, and not to our condemnation (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:23-32). Finally, we are reminded in the fifth stanza that every Sunday is a, “mini Easter,” on which we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection, receiving His gifts and singing His praise, throughout this life and into eternity (Acts 20:7). Having completed a Lenten fast from the Alleluias, we joyfully sing these out six times at the end of each stanza, in two groups of three, along with the English translation, “praise the Lord!”
Lord, This Day We’ve Come to Worship is a recent hymn, written in 1995 to open the Divine Services at Resurrection Lutheran Church, St. Louis, MO. The text was penned by Rev. Dr. Richard C. Dickinson (1925-2010), an African American Pastor who was born in the Alabama black belt (this term referring to the soil in the area) during a difficult time of poverty and segregation. He certainly benefitted from the work of Rosa J. Young (1890-1971), attending a Lutheran congregation and school in his youth and two of his undergraduate years at what would later become Concordia Selma. Rev. Dr. Dickinson attended seminary at Immanuel Lutheran College in Greensboro, NC, and later earned graduate degrees at Concordia, Chicago and Chicago Theological Seminary. He served a number of congregations, and eventually as executive director of the LCMS Commission on Black Ministry. Additionally, Rev. Dr. Dickinson was the first African American Pastor to preach at an opening of a Synodical Convention.
In spite of all that Rev. Dr. Dickinson faced growing up and into his adult life, by God’s grace, he received richness of spirit, strength and comfort through His Word and Sacraments. The good Pastor now rests safely and peacefully in Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22; c.f. LSB 708.3), awaiting the final Resurrection in glory. This Eastertide is the second in the midst of the current global pandemic. Over the past year, many have suffered from severe illness and some have fallen asleep in the Lord. All of us have suffered significant stress. Yet, through it all, we have been sustained through regularly and joyfully receiving God’s gifts in His weekly, “mini Easter” Divine Services, knowing that, because of the certainty of our Lord’s Resurrection, “death is swallowed up in victory,” a victory that is ours in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57). Alleluia, He is risen!!! We are grateful for your presence with us today, pray God’s blessings on you as you receive His gifts in our midst, and a joyous and blessed Eastertide to you and your family.