LORD JESUS CHRIST, WITH US ABIDE
In the Name of the Father, and of the (+) Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
13That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
28So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Devotion based on Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide (585)
This devotion is from Dr. Cameron MacKenzie's commentary on this hymn in Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns Volume 1. Both the hymn and Dr. MacKenzie's commentary are quite relevant and helpful for us in these strange and uncertain days.
The hymn begins with lines that evoke the prayer of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, when it looked as though Jesus was going to leave them, applying these words to the situation of the Church at the end of time. The "eventide" and "night" of stanza 1 become "these last days of great distress" in stanza 2.
But what is it that so plagues the Church as it heads toward Judgment Day? From all the ills to which one could point in answering this question, the hymn selects the gravest temptation of them all, apostasy or surrendering the faith, so stanza 3 speaks of "hope grown dim" and hearts turned cold." According to stanza 5, this manifests itself in by departing from the Word of God. "Human pride" rejects God's truth and substitutes "man-made thoughts or things" for the words that the Holy Spirit uses to create and sustain faith.
Against such evils, the Church must pray to its Lord for His continued presence in order to "spurn Satan" and to remain "strong, bold, [and] unified" (stanza 4). But how does Jesus "abide" with the Church? The hymn answers simply, explicitly, and in every stanza: God's Word. Although in stanza 2 the Word is joined to the Sacrament (the visible Word), the emphasis is upon the Word that is preached ("speak tongues of fire"; "may glorious truths that ewe have heard"; and "the words your Your Spirit sings"). This is, of course, the Word of the Gospel that whatever God's people experience by way of sin, trials, and temptations, He nevertheless loves them unconditionally for the sake of Christ.
Therefore, believers pray not only that Christ would make His Word available to them, but also that they would keep it "pure" (stanza 2) and would resist the temptation to replace it with religions of their own devising (stanza 5). They ask God for faithfulness to the Word (stanzas 2 and 6) and for boldness to use it (stanza 3).
In order to reinforce its theme, the hymn employs two metaphors for the Word: a light (stanzas 1 and 3) and a sword (stanza 4). In stanza 3, the faithful pray "speak tongues of fire and make us bold." With just a few words, the hymn writer takes the hearers back to Pentecost, when the tongues of fire symbolized the disciples' bold preaching of "the might works of God" (Acts 2:11). In stanza 5, the hymn explicitly connects the Word to the work of the Holy Spirit and alludes to Christian hymnody (the words Your Spirit sings".
The final stanza brings the hymn back to the petition if stanza 1, "Stay with us, Lord," and reiterates the means by which He does just that: "Your Word alone our heart's defense, the Church's glorious confidence."
1. Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,
For round us falls the eventide.
O let Your Word, that saving light,
Shine forth undimmed into the night.
2. In those last days of great distress
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness
That we keep pure till life is spent
Your holy Word and Sacrament.
3. To hope grown dim, to hearts turned cold
Speak tongues of fire and make us bold
To shine Your Word of saving grace
Into each dark and loveless place.
4. May glorious truths that we have heard,
The bright sword of Your mighty Word,
Spurn Satan that Your Church be strong,
Bold, unified in act and song.
5. Restrain, O Lord, the human pride
That seeks to thrust Your truth aside
Or with some man-made thoughts or things
Would dim the words Your Spirit sings.
6. Stay with us, Lord, and keep us true;
Preserve our faith our whole life through –
Your Word alone our heart’s defense,
The Church’s glorious confidence.
Text: Philipp Melanchthon, 1497-1560
© 1982 Concordia Publishing House
Tune: Public Domain
O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
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