During the season of Lent, we are reminded that our Lord Jesus was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Lent is a time for reflection on Christ’s journey to the cross and his redemptive suffering and death. He, the God of gods and Lord of lords, became one with us, experiencing both our joys and heartaches. He took our sins upon himself, and by his wounds we are healed. We participate pensively in this Lenten journey, but also know that the unlimited joy of the resurrection message “He is not here, he is risen!” is the end of the story.
This particular Lenten season has been one of much grief for our university. In recent weeks we have been astonished as one great sorrow after another has been visited on members of our community. The untimely death of the brother of one of our students, was soon followed by the equally untimely death of the son of a long-time faculty member, then the sudden deaths of the wife of another long-standing faculty member and the brother of yet another long-time member of our faculty, and the unexpected death of one of our students. Others in our community, including faculty, staff, and regents, very recently have experienced major cardiac incidents and cancer diagnoses. Within the span of just a few weeks we have ourselves become reacquainted with sorrows and grief. Like the psalmist of old, we are calling, “O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my pleas for mercy!” (Psalm 130:2).
I have written many notes and made numerous telephone calls in the last few weeks, assuring the grieving members of our university community that “your Concordia family stands with you in this time of loss and trial.” That is certainly true. We are one body here, and when any member of the body is hurting, we are all hurting. May God sustain us as we journey through these grievous times together, and especially sustain those members of our family most closely touched by loss.
When all has been said that can be said, and all done that can be done, when every tear is shed and every prayer is uttered, ultimately “our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). He is our Rock and our Redeemer. The Christ of the cross is also the Christ of the empty tomb, and the resurrection power by which we are all sustained is truly our source of everlasting hope. Grace and peace to you as we make this Lenten journey together.