"Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death"
"Awake, O sleeper, rise from death, And Christ shall give you light; So learn His love, its length and breath, Its fullness, depth and height."
Today's hymn paraphrases Ephesians 5:14, "Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Some scholars think that Paul is quoting an early Christian hymn here -- something the young churches might have sung when they met together. Clearly, they needed to remind themselves of Jesus' light just as we do today!
It's a dark world we live in -- a world full of temptation and evil. We struggle to live our lives as Christians, and sometimes we go astray. Most temptations are not the great, obvious ones. We may never have been seriously tempted to murder or commit adultery or worship an actual idol. But can we say the same about common sins like gossip and backbiting? Have we never repeated a juicy rumor, even though we knew it was harming a friend's reputation?
Or what about quarreling and refusing to forgive other people? It only takes a moment for a difference of opinion to turn into a nasty argument. We stomp away, vowing we will never speak to that person again. And so, a friendship is lost, a marriage is soured, a church is divided. The darkness creeps in.
We need light. We need a light that can light up all the dark spots in our lives, all the shameful, guilty places where we have strayed away from Christ. The hymnwriter reminds us that Christ's love shines through the darkness into our lives. "Awake, O sleeper, rise from death, And Christ shall give you light!"
The Holy Spirit calls us back to Jesus -- back to the One who suffered, died, and rose again for our sakes. He took all our sins on Himself and destroyed all our darkness with His own glorious light. Now we, too, can live in the light. No matter how long we have run away from God nor how far our running has taken us from Him, His light will reach us and lead us back to Him. His light can light up the deepest, darkest place in this world.
As we come into God's light, we begin to reflect it. As Paul explains, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6). God begins to shine through us, making us light-filled witnesses to Jesus' love. Then the dark world around us can see the light that dispels the darkness: Jesus, our Savior.
May God keep us with Him forever.
THE PRAYER: Almighty Savior, send the light of Christ into my heart. Fill my heart with love for You. Keep me safely in Your love. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Ruth Ann Brinkmann and Dr. Kari Vo. It is based on the hymn, "Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death," which is found on page 697 in the Lutheran Service Book.
Today's Bible Readings: Ezekiel 8-10 1 Timothy 5
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