March 2016 Newsletter – Paradise
Genesis 2:8-9b Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
Adam and Eve had everything they needed, God and food. There was no evil or sin in the world. They were living in Paradise, both literally and figuratively. And then they were tempted to disobey God, and almost immediately they disobeyed the command of God and the world changed. The world has not been that good since that disobedience. But God had made a promise that he was going to make everything right, and he did.
This month we again will celebrate the empty tomb of Jesus. The moment in the history of the world when Jesus had risen from the dead. Death could not keep him, and atonement for our disobedience in Paradise was made. Our disobedience of God has been forgiven. Now we are not only people who are Living Lent as People of the Resurrection, we are also living Easter as People of the Resurrection.
We have new life. And there is more, Paradise will be restored for us. And we will once again dwell with our God. Saint John wrote in Revelation 21:3b “Now the dwelling place of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Paradise will be restored! And there is still more. Since God has promised that he will dwell with us, and he keeps all of his promises, that means that you already have Paradise restored to you. You are already dwelling with him. And this is a great comfort to us. We know where we are going and we know we are going to get there. What great comfort this gives.
So as we move towards our celebration of Easter this year, let us remember the fact that as People of the Easter Resurrection we are already in Paradise. Let us all join together for Easter, either on Saturday March 26 at 5:30p for our Easter Vigil service or Sunday on March 27 at 9:00a for our Easter Sunday service and sing Alleluias to our God for forgiving us, and for saving us from eternal death. Come and say or hear! “Alleluia, Christ has arisen!” And respond or hear, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Happy Easter to all of you,
May / June 2015 Newsletter – Take Courage
There is so much going on in the world today that one wonders where are all the American clergy. It seems that we are silent. I don’t think that is the truth in reality. We are not quiet we are more likely ignored by media. If we are quiet it’s only because we are taken out of context or worse yet labeled as intolerant.
I read an opinion printed in the NY Times written by a former food critic about making Christians do what they morally are not supposed to do. It caused me a little anxiety. And doing these things proposed by this person would be against my conscience. And then a message from a friend gave me courage, “All men will hate you because of Me.” — Jesus to His apostles. If this is what is happening then it’s good! The fact that Christians are hated by the world is never going to change. And it seems worse today.
So what has my friend’s message done for me? It has emboldened me. It has given me even more courage to continue to bring the Gospel of Jesus to the world. You know this one. It is unmerited grace. It is forgiveness. It is life!
So no matter what happens. I will resist anyone who tries to force me to go against my conscience. For my conscience tells me that I must obey God rather than men. This is what we as Christians always do, we obey God rather than men.
As you celebrate Easter throughout this Easter season and throughout the year, remember what Jesus has done for you. How he has bought you forgiveness and has bestowed on you eternal life through faith in his death and resurrection. And then have courage and proclaim his forgiveness and life to all.
The world will abandon you. The world will hate you. The world will forsake you. Yet, your Lord Jesus Christ is with you always. He will ever leave you nor will he forsake you. He will always love you. And as we heard on Easter Sunday, we are going home! It does not get any better than that!
Alleluia! He is Risen!
July/August 2014 – Tell Everyone!
The summer is beginning and we are now in the time of year where the weather is nice enough for us to be outside. As I was reading Rev Daniel May’s words for the people of Indiana and western Kentucky he talked about getting outside and walking in your neighborhoods. And some of us are capable of doing that. Others are not. Their closest neighbor may be a mile or so away. And yet, we still can get out and be among people.
On days when we have communion we have a song that we sing after the Communion distribution is over. We find it in setting one of our Divine Service. It is titled “Thank the Lord.” Here are the words:
Thank the Lord and sing His Praise; tell everyone what he has done. Let all who seek the Lord rejoice and proudly bear His name. He recalls His promises and leads his people forth in joy with shouts of thanksgiving. Alleluia, alleluia. (LSB pg 164)
Whenever we hear good news isn’t this one of the songs we want to sing? Perhaps as we are outside working in our yards someone will stop and talk to us and tell us good news. And we can say “Thank the Lord and sing his praise; tell everyone what he has done.” Or maybe as we are walking and say hello to someone who tells us good news we can quote this song. Perhaps this meeting will become an opportunity for us to invite them to come and worship with us.
Of course the song that we sing is also about the Lord forgiving us through His son. For since we sing this after we receive communion we now have that forgiveness by the promise of God. And therefore we are singing our thanks for his undeserved grace. And we want others to have this same forgiveness and undeserved grace. That is the reason we are to tell everyone what He has done. So that they can hear it.
Perhaps the Lord will give us that opportunity to share the promise He has made in these upcoming months as we walk about wherever we are. We can share the promise of forgiveness to us and to all. And perhaps the Holy Spirit will move them to come and hear those words for themselves. May the Lord grant it to them.
May/June 2014 – Celebrate the Victory!
As I begin to write this we are still in Holy Week and Easter is not here yet. This coming Sunday we will again celebrate Jesus resurrection from the dead. Easter is the chief festival of the church year. It is Jesus resurrection that is the cause for our celebration of Easter.
After Easter we celebrate a week of weeks of Easter Celebrations. Easter is our victory celebration. The hymn “The Strife Is O’er, the Battle Done” (LSB 464) sings alleluias to God for this victory. The first verse goes like this, “The strife is o’er the battle done; Now is the victor’s triumph won; Now be the song of praise begun. Alleluia! The words were written in 1695. The tune was written by Giovanni P. da Palestrina. He lived from 1525 to 1594. It is based partly on 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. And what a victory it is. We no longer die. The devil can throw everything at us and it won’t make a difference. We have Jesus death and resurrection. We have forgiveness and eternal life. We win because Jesus won!
As we celebrate these seven weeks of Easter we will see some amazing things. We will see Jesus miraculous and mysterious post-Easter appearances. The second Sunday is known as White Sunday in that the newly baptized Christians would where their white robes all week. These would have been those baptized at the Easter Vigil the night before Easter. The fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday in that the readings focus on Jesus as our Good Shepherd.
And then 40 days after Easter is Jesus Ascension to heaven. Ascension Day is May 29th this year. Where he sits at the right hand of God. What a sight this is to see Jesus on the throne. Our loving king has given us the victory. From there the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit.
Ten day after his ascension we will see the Holy Spirit descend upon the disciples on Pentecost Day. This is the day we get the Holy Spirit with us to live forever with us. It is His work that helps us to see the Jesus’ victory over sin, death and Satan. It is His work in us that helps us love one another and love God.
As you celebrate this Easter season, remember his victory for you and give thanks to God.
Come and celebrate with us the victory Jesus gives and shares with you!
Alleluia! He is Risen!