Devotion 223 – Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus, bless us! Bless even us! Amen.

Texts: Luke 24:50–52, Acts 1:13–14

And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. … And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Devotion

Blessing His disciples before He ascends. That’s how He is seated at God’s right hand. That’s how the disciples should continually see Him with thoughts of faith. That’s how He should be also before our eyes. Then we have the right picture of Him in our soul, for His hands are lifted up day and night, blessing the Church. What would He do on His throne of glory other than bless His people? Interceding and defending, He lifts His hands over us and imparts to us His Holy Spirit. Already the patriarchs’ priestly blessing had a great power upon their children. Noah’s words of blessings brought success to Shem and Japheth, but his curse brought misfortune on Ham. Old blind Isaac could bless Jacob specially as lord over his brother, and Jacob’s blessing could establish Judah as the one praised among the brothers. Think then what our Lord Jesus’ blessing over the Church can do! Through the Spirit, whom He sends from the Father in Word and Sacraments, He imparts to us heavenly gifts: life from His own life, light of a heavenly kind, power stronger than death, and peace that passes all understanding. For the Lord’s blessing is not an empty speech or a meaningless gesture, but when He lifts up His hands in blessing, they are full of life, full of creating and sustaining powers that penetrate deep into the hearts of those He blesses.

The fellowship of prayer in Jerusalem is already a gift of the Lord’s blessing. They all prayed together with one accord, and they continued without ceasing until the gift of Pentecost came. Let us do the same! O we are in such need of Pentecost fire, the baptism of the Spirit! But we can receive it. Here we are a band of disciples over whom the Lord holds His blessing hands. We also feel heartfelt need to receive more of the Holy Spirit’s power. “Come, Holy Spirit, power divine, And fill this hungry heart of mine; Thou seest how in tears I stand, And ask a blessing of Thy hand. In every need my comfort be; Refresh my soul, and strengthen me.”3 Shouldn’t the Lord then send Him to us? But let us pray unanimously and hold fast by His promise of the Holy Spirit. Let us not desire anything else but what He promises. And let us keep on praying, until we receive. Let these ten days before Pentecost be a time of mutual prayer throughout the whole Church!

Closing Prayer

Open our eyes of faith, Lord Jesus, so that we may see You, as You are in glory, that You bless us with Your once nail-pierced hands. Grant us grace to pray unanimously and unceasingly, and give us the gift of Pentecost. O give us the gift of Pentecost, that we may receive Your love and gladly confess Your name. Amen.

Hymn

Witnesses of Christ, down bending,
Kneel His blessing to receive!
See Him into heav’n ascending,
Conqu’ring Lord whom you believe!
Now arise and then go forth,
Spread the seed of holy worth!
Seedtime soon is past and over
When His harvest He shall gather.

From your sight the cloud now hides Him,
Darkness covers soon the day;
Jesus’ friends in watch are biding
All together now they pray!
Now they see and understand
They shall see their Lord again;
Hope awaits that day with longing,
When we into heav’n are thronging.

Jesus, Lord enthroned forever
At Your Father God’s right hand,
Sinners’ Savior and Deliv’rer,
Your good Spirit do now send!
Kindle zeal and speak Your Word
Now throughout the whole wide world;
Gather in from ev’ry nation
Ev’ry faithful generation.

Landstad: Knæler, Kristi Vidneskare L 587 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Freu dich sehr (ELH 593); alternate hymn: Hail the day that sees Him rise ELH 388:3-4

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