Holy Week Devotionals 2008

Hymns of Easter
Reflections on Scripture and Hymns
by Members of Lexington Avenue Baptist Church




These Easter devotional guides are gifts to our church and community - a way of giving people opportunities to think about what Easter might mean for their lives. Hopefully you will take a few minutes each day to read and reflect on these brief devotions, which consist of a few thoughts about some of the songs of Easter. Perhaps you will recognize some of the songs as you read about them.

At Lexington Avenue Baptist Church these songs are generally sung in our worship services during the season of Lent (40 days prior to Easter). They help us celebrate the Journey of Christ through his death and resurrection. Through them we sense the pain, suffering, and also the hope and joy Jesus experienced. We invite you to attend our services and sing them with us.

May you also share these feelings as you read through and perhaps sing these songs and devotions. May you apply these thoughts to your lives as you pause and reflect. May you feel close to God and know that He loves you.

Phil Quinn, Minister of Music

Note: All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America, 1989)

All words and music for the hymns used in this devotion guide are from the public domain.

Thanks to Brittany Stillwell Krebs for transcribing the musical notations and words for the hymns that were used in this devotion guide.


Palm Sunday, April 5

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:1-11
Reflections by Ed Clark

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Reflections by Ed Clark

Jesus, after a short period, was, and had been, the topic of conversation. He was mistrusted by the Priests and seen as a trouble maker who excited the crowds. His performance of healing miracles, impressive to those who watched, but counted as ‘magic' by the more righteous dignitaries in the church had become the fulcrum around which His position, as held by the vast majority of people, was elevated to Messiah.

His earthly encounters were shortly to end. He knew this, of course, and with that in mind the journey into Jerusalem was planned to coincide with an event that brought multitudes of people to the great city. His entry, acclaimed by thousands, was a parade to paradise for those who had accepted His claim to be the Savior of the world.

This was the day of ultimate acclaim. People threw palms on the ground to signify their respect and acceptance of His position among them. He came, not as a King sitting astride His well bred steed, but rode on the back of a lowly donkey cushioned only by the clothing of His disciples.

The triumphal declaration of Messiahship was framed that day in Jerusalem along with the permanent disclosure that humble actions of love should identify each of us as followers.


Monday, April 6

Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:1-5; 27:27-44
Reflections by Jim Leavell

Reflections by Jim Leavell

As I think about this Easter season, I cannot help but remember my illness last summer. The MRSA that struck my body came quickly and without notice. As it progressed, I began to lose the ability to move, eat and finally speak or communicate in any way. For three months everyone around me surrounded me with support. I had physical support from the doctors, nurses, technicians, and physical therapists who used every method they could to heal me, from surgery to medications. I received emotional support from my wife through her presence and patience. And just as importantly, if not more so, I had the spiritual support of all of my friends at LABC. I was surrounded by love and encouragement.

Contrast that to the pain and agony of our Lord. He lived an ordeal that He knew would happen as He told His disciples ("You know that after two days is the Passover, and the son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.") He was taken as a strong man, stripped, beaten, and humiliated by His captors. This man, who had done no wrong, was attacked at every turn. Never given any relief (instead of water to quench His thirst, he was given sour wine with gall). Even as He endured the horror of crucifixion, He was insulted by everyone, including thieves. There was no mercy shown for this wonderful savior.

After all is said and done, had it not been for the agony and the suffering of Jesus, my world could have been much different. Without Him, I may only be looked on as a physical mass. One who could be treated without compassion by caring friends? What Jesus provided for me by His suffering and ultimate crucifixion gave us all the hope to go on. We can take setbacks, like disease (as serious as we may think it is) and bring us through with His love which lives in us as Christians.

Tuesday, April 7

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:14-23; 24:28-35
Reflections by Martha Robertson

Reflections by Martha Robertson

When I decided to do a devotional on this Lenten hymn, I thought "I'll do this one because it's about bread and I am all about food!"

Let us break bread, drink wine, praise God together on our knees.

Communion... Unity, relationship, spiritual union.

Nobody likes to eat alone. It's a difficult thing to go into a restaurant by yourself, sit down, order a meal and enjoy it without lots of practice. And who wants practice at eating alone? We are social creatures... we like to eat with other people. Most of the major celebrations in our lives involve food in some capacity.

So why not worship? When we break bread together, we are creating unity or relationship with each other. A spiritual union that says we are one... we agree on this thing. And the thing we agree on is that the bread is Christ's body, broken for us. The wine is his blood, poured out for us and for many.

But we are not just called to break bread, drink wine, or praise God together... but to do it on our knees. Humbly and lowly... serving each other, bowing before God to give him the praise and glory due Him for sending His son, Jesus, to die for our sins. His body, broken for us. His blood, poured out for us.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice. When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun, O Lord, have mercy on me!


Wednesday, April 8

Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:36-46; Hebrews 12:3-11
Reflections by Lois Baltzer

Reflections by Lois Baltzer

About twenty years ago the church where I was a member and organist decided to do a Passion Play production entitled, "Behold the Lamb". I was asked to play the part of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and, at the foot of the cross, sing a song entitled, "Is this the boy I raised?" Each night I walked down the aisle of the theater and up onto the stage. There our papier mache "hill of Calvary" held three crosses with Jesus hanging in the center, and I became more and more a part of that Biblical scene. I felt emotions I had never felt before, although I had been a baptized believer for most of my life. I knew how those disciples and women at the foot of the cross felt. I could feel some of what Mary must have felt, when I sang the last verse of Mary's song at the foot of the cross, "This is the boy I raised, This is the son I knew. This is the one I loved. Why can't they love Him too?" I was really led to Calvary through the music and the production.

I think about the many years we performed "Behold the Lamb" and often pray that I may always feel those emotions that I felt then. "Lest I forget His thorn-crowned brow, Lead me to Calvary."


Dear Father, please "lead us to Calvary" in a very real way during this meaningful season. Through our precious Lord, Amen.


Maundy Thursday, April 9

Scripture Reading: Luke 23:44-49; Philippians 3:7-11
Reflections by Keith Stillwell

Reflections by Keith Stillwell

(From the Abbey of Gethsemani Monastery)

O God, Hear my prayer from silence.

For two days I have surveyed crosses. Moss covered crosses. Pretty crosses. Crosses marking graves. Crosses hung on trees. Crosses made of broken trees. Stations of the Cross. Crosses with images of Christ staring down at me in "sorrow and love."

Yet, I must confess, when I survey your wondrous cross, I am unmoved.

Why? Is the cross too familiar? Have I heard the story too many times? Is it that I see crosses everywhere? In this monastery; hung decoratively around so many necks; even tattooed on the arm of a basketball player with a basketball at the center.

Or is it that surveying your wondrous cross means I must sing verses one, two, and three: "my richest gains I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride," "all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them," and "love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all?"

During a walk through the woods, I snag my leg on a thorn bush and blood trickles down my leg. I stop and wonder, "Is this a sign?" But this superficial wound does nothing to remind me of Christ's suffering on the cross.

Then, you show me. I see the face of Christ on the cross in faces I have seen. The face of an awkward young boy, bullied and mocked in the lunchroom, with not even a teacher to defend him. The faces of a mother and father after learning their teen-aged son had been killed in an automobile accident. The face of a person I love, writhing in pain in a hospital bed. The face of a nursing home resident with no family or friends to visit.

Jesus, you have suffered all of this, and more, for me; for all people. Jesus, on the wondrous cross, you are the face of ridicule, grief, pain, and loneliness, because you love me.

May I give you "my soul, my life, my all."



Good Friday, April 10

Scripture Reading: Mark 15:21-40
Reflections by Evelyn Crooke

Reflections by Evelyn Crooke

As Jesus hung on the cross on that black Friday, he cried out to God, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Who was the "them" for whom Jesus sought forgiveness? Who was there on that horrible day? Mark 15:21-40 answers these questions for us.

The soldiers were there. They put a crown of thorns on his head, spat on him, and mocked him as he writhed in pain.

Simon of Cyrene was there and was forced to carry Jesus' cross for him as Jesus fell beneath the load.

Two thieves were there. One thief jeered at Jesus while the other had compassion on him.

The centurion was there and he recognized that Jesus "was truly the Son of God".

The chief priest was there ridiculing Jesus with the taunt, "He saved others, himself he cannot save".

The women were there ministering to their Lord as best they could.

Many people were there wagging their heads and jeering at Jesus.

And, sad to say, I was there because my sins helped to nail Jesus to the cross. Yes,

my sins crucified my lord,

my sins nailed him to the tree,

my sins laid him in the tomb,

But, thanks be to God, I was there also when he rose up from the grave and I am included in the "them" for whom Jesus prayed for forgiveness!


Saturday, April 11

Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:57-28:6
Reflections by Barbara Beck

Reflections by Barbara Beck

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior. Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

"Vainly they watch his bed…vainly they seal the dead"

It was difficult for me to write about this "Silent Saturday" when Jesus lay buried. I am that person who sees the glass as half full. I am an "Easter Sunday" person. I like to think about the good and exciting things and not the unpleasant things. Over the last few years I have forced myself to think about what Christ went through before His resurrection. Because only by understanding how terrible His death and burial were, can we fully appreciate how glorious His resurrection was.

After the crucifixion on Friday, Jesus' body had been placed in the borrowed tomb. On Saturday, his followers mourned, thinking the end had come. How little did they know that was only the beginning.

"...Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever;..." (Revelation 1:17-18)


Easter Sunday, April 12

Scripture Reading: John 20:1-31; 21:1-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-14, 20
Reflections by Kathleen Brewsaugh

Reflections by Kathleen Brewsaugh

And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:14)

Charles Wesley still preaches today through his hymns. He was a fiery evangelistic preacher, so much so that many pulpits were closed to him. After hearing a young friend preach enthusiastically to several hundred people in an open field in England, Charles determined this is the way he would reach out. Soon Charles Wesley was preaching to over a thousand people while standing on a table top out in an open field. He prayed and preached fervently to all, the rich and the poor. He told them of their sinful nature and souls lost and then, through scripture, taught them about salvation. He taught them that believing the gospel makes Easter the most wonderful time to celebrate our Christian faith.

How exciting, how grateful, how strong our belief, how wonderful our reward! Jesus said to Thomas, John 20:29 "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Christ the Lord Is Risen Today Alleluia!!! -Charles Wesley