Each Lent we are invited to enter more deeply into the work of conforming to the image of Jesus, our Way and our Life. As each year goes by and we take seriously the process of sanctification (becoming more fully our true, called selves, made new in Christ Jesus,) we bring life to those with whom we live and unite our resurrected future to our present circumstances. This Lent will be an exercise in learning to rise with Jesus. Rising from despair, systems of sin that ensnare us, from disease, suffering, and death. If we are united to a death like Jesus', "we will certainly be united to a resurrection like his" Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans. This daily death and rising, is the life's work of each disciple of Jesus. Jesus' ministry of healing, his serving, his humility that did not seek to lord over the other but embraced even his persecutors in his outstretched, crucified arms, invites us each to live such a life and so learn the "power of the resurrection." This power of the risen Christ would later draw Saul, an archenemy of the first Christians, into those same life-giving arms, propelling him into a new life which Paul could never have imagined.
"Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus," is a hymn that encapsulates this process of learning to rise. Just as a seed is sown to rise again, and as a branch leafs out from it's root, we too follow Jesus' leading, "full of faith and hope and love."
The text, written by the Bohemian poet Sigismund von Birken in the 1600s, speaks about this blending of our lives with the poured-out-and-risen life of Jesus in its fourth stanza: "Let us also live with Jesus. He has risen from the dead that to life we may awaken. Jesus, you are now our head, we are your own living members; Where you live, there we shall be in your presence constantly, living there with you forever. Jesus, let me faithful be, life eternal grant to me."
Most Lutherans in North America sing this text to a tune written in 1788 by the teacher and musician Georg Boltze who served as musician and teacher in an orphanage in Potsdam, Germany.
While not much is written or recorded about these originators of our hymn of the season, it is good to remember that every follower, every saint is to ultimately point not to herself, but to Jesus. As our friend Paul also reminds us in Galatians: "...it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me." And so, as we come to know this song, may we embody it's message, and walking with Jesus, learn to rise with him and find true life, identity, and destiny.