Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Resurrection

I asked the confirmation class to write a paragraph on "What Easter means to me." As I thought about it, I wondered what Easter did mean to me. So what was good for the goose is also good for the gander. Here goes.

Easter means life. I know that I am going to die one day. All my loved ones are going to die. We cannot get out of this world alive (unless Christ returns before we die). When I die, this body will be laid in a grave. It seems like such a dismal end. A cold, dark box lowered into the ground and covered with dirt is where my body will go. Yuck. That doesn't sound too good to me.

Yes, my soul will enter into eternity with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Yet, that isn't the end of the story. This body, this very one that I am trying to take care of right now, this body that dies and returns to dust, will one day be raised to life again. On the day when Jesus returns upon the clouds, this body will rise form the dead. It will rise victorious over death. It will be glorified (only the Lord knows fully what that means) and body and soul together will enter into eternity with my Lord. Jesus rising from the dead gives to me the assurance that even though I die, yet shall I live.

This body will rise again. It will live - even better than it is right now. There will be no sin nor any results of sin upon this body. Never again will I have to go to the doctor for the Lord will give this frail body perfection in which it will no longer be frail. I will live physically because Jesus rose from the dead. Easter means that I myself, with these eyes, will see the Lord standing upon the new earth. I will be praising the Lord almighty with these lips and with this voice.

Yes, Easter means life. True life, complete life for me and for all believers in Jesus Christ. It means that my loved ones who died believing in Jesus will live again. I know this because Jesus rose from the dead and tells me that in Him, there is new life, holy life, eternal life.  Life! Physical resurrection.

Easter means hope. I see so much despair and hurt in the people's lives. There is pain from the loss of loved ones who have died. There is emptiness in heart and life because a father or mother, a husband or a wife, a son or daughter, a friend, a neighbor or someone else has died. The heart hurts. It aches. But that is not the end of the story. There is eternal life - physical, eternal life. That person's soul is with the Lord and one day, on the day of resurrection, the body and soul will be reunited and they will live physically for an eternity. There will be no more pain or emptiness. There is hope. True hope. Hope that doesn't disappoint. Yes, there is pain now. There is the ache of the heart that has lost and cannot have again. But that is not the end of the story. Jesus lives! He rose! And all who believe in Him will rise too. They will live. That is hope.

Easter is all about the new life that is given in Christ Jesus. I can face today because Jesus lives. I can hear the bad news that is shared with me because Jesus lives. I can know that even as this body breaks down and becomes weak, Jesus lives. I know that no matter what happens, even I lose everything, that Jesus lives. And because He lives, I have comfort, peace, hope and joy. I have it all because Jesus lives. (Some will say I can say this because I have never lost anything. If you think that, I am sorry. It isn't true. But I do not dwell on what I have lost. I focus on what I have in a risen Christ.)

Easter (by Easter I mean the resurrection of Jesus from the dead) is my everything. Because of Easter I can get up in the morning and face the day. Because of Easter I can go through the day. Because of I can sleep at night. Because of Easter I know that no matter what happens to me or to those around me, there is still peace and hope.

Easter is life, here in time and forever in eternity.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday

What does that mean? Maundy Thursday? Hmmmm. It must have something to do with the Lord's Supper, as the Lutheran Church celebrates the Sacrament on this night. It must mean...what does it mean? Simply put, it comes from John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved  you, you also are to love one another." (ESV) A new "commandment" or in Latin, the verse begins with "mandatum." "Maundy" is a derivative of the word mandatum. Thus, Maundy Thursday is the day when the Lord tells us how we are to live our life as His brothers and sisters - in love, not the love of the world that seeks something in return but to love no matter what, not looking for something but merely giving. As Jesus gave Himself for us, so we are to give ourselves for others. As He has loved us, so we are to love others.

Then He shows how much He loves. That is found in the words, "Take eat, this is My body given for you," and "Take drink, this is My blood shed for you, for forgiveness of you sins." In that Supper, that Holy Communion, we are given the full love of Christ. His body which is broken for us and His blood which is shed for us, is given to us in, with and under the bread and wine of the Supper. We are given that which shows us the depth of His love for us.

He will go to the cross for each of us, for our sins. He will show us the depth of His love in that terrible death that He faces. But before He steps out of that building and heads to the Garden of Gethsemane, He gives the Supper that will strength each of us, that will assure us of forgiveness, and that will assure us that salvation is truly ours through faith in Him.

"Love one another as I have loved you," He says to us today. "Take eat, take drink," He invites us. Today is truly a holy day. It is a special day. It is Maundy Thursday.

Friday, April 11, 2014

We are hypersensitive, except when it comes to Christians

I was reading about the hot water that Heidi Klum was in because of a photo shoot in which she dressed in Native American garb. It accused her of being insensitive and lending to the discrimination against Native Americans. There were other things leveled against her because of the photo shoot. I guess I look at what happened and say, "Don't be so sensitive." Now before you accuse me of racism and being insensitive, I must say, "When was the last time you got that upset over the clergy being portrayed as stupid, lazy, ignorant, greedy, lustful and just plan idiots?" I have not seen too many portrayals of clergy as normal, healthy, God-fearing, servants of the Word. Over and over again we are shown as being less than admirable and something to be loathed. No one gets upset over that. No one says that it is unfair, unkind, insensitive and wrong to portray clergy in the fashion. It makes me sick but does the media or the bloggers care about that? No. In fact, they do their best to add to the insensitive, unloving and uncaring portrayal of clergy.

More than that, Christians are portrayed in the same light. If a Christian states what they believe, they are intolerant and must take back all that they said. If a non-Christian states what they believe, they are praised and made to be a hero.  Take the case of Michael Sam. He comes out as being gay. He is hailed as a hero. He is put on the cover of Sports Illustrated, not because he is a great football player but because he is gay. Then when Phil Robertson states his beliefs about homosexuality, Cracker Barrel pulls all his products form the shelves, the news media rips him up one side and down the other and the Network tries to pull their show from their programming. What's up with that? A Christian states what he believes and is blasted, a football player states what he believes and is praised. The difference, the football player is gay and the Christian isn't. Discrimination? Yes. Intolerance? Yes. But not on the side of the Christian, on the side of the homosexual community, the media and society at large.

We are hypersensitive in our culture today in all areas except when it comes to Christianity. You cannot do or say anything that might be construed as as racist, intolerant or anti-gay. But you can attack and destroy a person because he or she is Christian.

Should we be surprised? No. Our Lord warned us that this was going to take place He told us that we would be attacked because we are Christian. And it is happening. I, for one, will continue to speak what the Lord tells me in His Word. I will continue to point out when other Christian churches are wrong in their interpretation of Scripture. And I will speak up when the media and other organizations attack my faith. Will it change the way things are in this world? No it won't. But that won't stop me. I hope that it won't stop you either