Thursday, April 27, 2017

Where is He?

"He is not here. He is risen, just as He said He would," the angel says. "Behold my hands and side," Jesus says to the disciples. "He walked with us, talked with us and broke bread with us," the men from the road to Emmaus tell the other disciples.

"He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!" the parishioners and pastor greet each other on Easter Sunday morning. The lilies trumpet the news of the resurrection even as the trumpets play loudly along with the organ as the worshipers lift up their voices in a rousing hymn of joy, "Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!" With confidence, they join in singing "I know that my Redeemer lives, What comfort this sweet sentence gives..."

Yes, He is alive. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He lives even today. Easter joy, Easter celebration. Join the festal song as we praise the name of our risen Lord Jesus Christ.

But it is now almost 2 full weeks since that Easter celebration. This Sunday, April 30th, will be the 3rd Sunday of Easter, the 2nd Sunday since that celebration. The question I ask you, "Where is He?" Where is Jesus Christ today?

I know that you are going to say, "Everywhere." You would be correct. Yet I want you to think deeper than that. Where is He today? If you celebrated the resurrection on Easter Sunday, where is that risen Lord in your life right now?

As I write this, I have several thoughts in mind. I may or may not get to all of them today. That is all right. These are after all, "random thought..." I can be random even as I try to be specific.

First, we know where Jesus is. He is in the Word and Sacrament. He is THE Word. John tells us that in the 1st chapter of the gospel that bears his name. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." (John 1:1) Then in verse 14, John tells us, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14) The Word is none other than Jesus Christ. Martin Luther knew this Word when he wrote in the hymn "A Mighty Fortress," "One little Word can fell him (Satan)." That Word is Jesus Christ. He is the Word. All the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, are written to show us the Word, to show us Christ. From Genesis to Revelation, the Holy Spirit lead the chosen writers in the thoughts they expressed and the words they wrote. The purpose of the Bible? To show each one of us the Savior, to show us the Word, to show us the risen and living Lord Jesus Christ. Where is He? In the Word. He is the Word.

Even more, He is the Sacrament of the Altar. There, in the bread and wine, we see the very risen Lord. He gives us His body and blood in, with and under the bread and wine. As you eat the bread in a normal fashion, you receive the body of Christ. As you drink the wine, you receive the blood of Christ. How? Through the Word of Christ. He says it is there and therefore, it is. Period. If He was wrong on this point, then on what point can His word be trusted? Where is He? In the Sacrament of the Altar, each time it is offered.

There we know that He is. There we are assured of His presence. There, in Word and Sacrament, we see the risen Lord. Have you gone back to worship since Easter? If not, why not? Was the one event of meeting the risen Lord enough for your life? No. Put your hand on your chest. Is your heart beating? If so, then you need to return to the very place where He promises to meet you week after week - in Word and Sacrament. (I am not going to get into that argument that says, "I can be a Christian without attending worship." True, but what kind of Christian are you? The Lord invites you to worship and you are saying to Him, "No thank you." What does that really say about you?)

Where is He? He is in your life. He is in your heart. He is with you every single day. He is with you as you sleep. He is with you as you eat a meal. He is with you as you drive. He is with you as you go to work. He is with you are school. He is with you as you go to the ballgame or hockey game. He is with you as you watch TV or surf the Internet. He is with you as you post on Facebook. He is with you as you read the book. He is with you as you work in the garden or do the laundry. The risen Lord is with you wherever you are. He tells you, "I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." Always. Everywhere.

How is that reflected in your daily living? Do you reflect the living Lord in your actions? Your words? Do you reflect the living Lord in your plans? Do you show those around you that the Lord lives in you? Do you live for Him or do you live for yourself? This really gets into the life of sanctification, the life we live each day. This gets into our life as Christian stewards. Our lives are not our own. We were bought with a price (His suffering and death). You were baptized into Christ Jesus, into His death and into His resurrection. He lives in you. You are to live for Him. You are to live according to His will, sharing His love with others, caring for those around you in the way that He would have you care for them.

This is so challenging. It is easy to say "He lives!" It is more difficult to live "He lives!" Why? Our sinful nature doesn't want us to follow Him. It wants to live for itself. It wants what it wants. He desires what it desires. And that generally is not what the Lord desires. Wow! Really? That means that He alone is the One we should live for each day.

Where is He? Ask yourself that today. Ask yourself that every day. Pray that the Spirit will lead you to live for the risen Christ, live in the risen Christ, live as He lives in you. Let that risen Lord shine through you today.

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! He lives in you today.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Have you disappointed? In some situation, in a person, in an organization? I think that probably all of us have been disappointed at one time or another. Someone tells you that they will contact you, then they don't. The interviewer tells you that they will get back to you about the job, then they don't. You have high hopes to get into a certain school, then you are turned down. You put all your trust in a government, a president, a governor and then they don't quite live up to your expectations. You love and trust someone in a relationship and then they do something that lets you down.

Yes, we have all faced disappointment at one time or another. Perhaps it is just the disappointment of not getting the certain toy or gift that you wanted as a child. I can remember as a child, standing at the door of the house, looking out the screen door, waiting to see a certain person walk up the steps to the door, only to not have that happen. Disappointment.

Why does it happen? Sinfulness. We are sinful people, living in a sinful world. No matter how good, true and honorable our intentions, each of us is still a sinner. We will disappoint someone and they will disappoint us. It will happen again and again.

There were some that were greatly disappointed people on that 1st day of the week so many years ago (the day we call Easter). Why were they disappointed? Because it didn't go the way they expected. They knew that the body of Jesus had been placed in the grave. They knew that there was a stone at the mouth of the tomb. They knew that there were guards placed outside the tomb in order to keep people from getting into the tomb. Why did they know this? Because they were the ones who did it. The chief priests and the Pharisees did not want the body of Jesus to be taken by the disciples or some other fanatical person. So they made the tomb as secure as they knew how.

Come that Sunday morning, they were disappointed. An angel came and rolled back the stone. The guards fell down as though dead. And Jesus walked out of the tomb. (All right, we don't know that He walked out. It is safe to say that He was no long dead in the tomb.) He was alive. And they were disappointed.

Another one that was disappointed? Satan. He wanted Jesus to remain dead. He wanted to defeat the Son of God. And he didn't. He did NOT defeat the Son of God by having Him put to death on the cross. Instead, he sealed his own fate. For not only did Jesus die, but He rose from the dead on the 1st day. To say that Satan was disappointed is probably a huge understatement. He was crushed!

Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive today! He lives! For me, there is no disappointment in Christ. I look at Him and know that no matter how often I disappoint other and they disappoint me, all is forgiven in Christ. He has brought forgiveness to each of us. In Him there is no disappointment - only truth, forgiveness, life and eternity.

Yes, others will disappoint you. They will disappoint me. You will disappoint others. I will disappoint others. The joy we have is that we are given forgiveness through a risen and living Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, there is no disappointment at all. In Him is life!

I give thanks to God for the faith, forgiveness and life that I have been given in the risen Jesus Christ. No disappointment there!