Category Archives: Lent 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012 – Easter Sunday

Alleluia! Christ is risen
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia! 

Easter Messages from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
and Bishop Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Christ is risen! Imagine the power in those words of promise.

When the disciples first heard Jesus speak of his death and resurrection, “they kept the matter to themselves” (Mark 9:10). But the news is too good to keep to ourselves. The life of Jesus Christ has been unleashed into the world.

Because Christ is risen, you can embrace life’s complexities and uncertainties with a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. The risen Christ goes ahead of you, meeting you in the most surprising faces and unexpected places. Christ’s resurrection puts us right where God wants us to be — in the thick of life.

Because Christ is risen, you have a word of hope. To those weary from mourning loss and fearing death, the assurance is given that nothing in all creation will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

The life of Jesus, God’s own life, has burst into the world, restoring community. At the barriers we erect to divide us, the risen Christ meets us, turning those walls into tables of reconciliation. To those who live in fear and feel unworthy, the promise is given. “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

Every morning you awaken with the mark of Jesus’ death on your forehead and the promise of Christ’s resurrection on your lips.

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

In God’s grace,

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
_________________________________________________________________________

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
(John 20 : 1-2, NIV).
One thing you can say about God: God sure is consistent.

First, he decides to have his only begotten son enter the human race in a filthy old stable with a feed box for a crib … what a laugh!

Then, Jesus runs around the Galilean countryside and seems to like nothing more than to consort with tax collectors and thieves and prostitutes and immigrants, with outcasts and with sinners … ridiculous!

Finally, Jesus gets himself killed, nailed naked to a rough cross, executed in the most gruesome way known to humankind … downright scandalous!

And now, in the moment of his greatest glory, at the moment of resurrection and new life, he chooses a woman to be the first witness of this resurrection!

A woman! God is nothing if not consistent, and at every turn, he surprises us with the unexpected.

In Jesus’ day, women were the property of their fathers and husbands. They had no rights, could not own anything, could not testify in a court of law by themselves. And yet it is Mary Magdalene, a woman of allegedly ill repute, who is the first at the empty tomb and so becomes the primary witness to the greatest and most important event in all of human history.

It is that event that has shaped us, has shaped the world, ever since. In Jesus’ resurrection, God has said a loud and final NO to death and the grave. God has rolled away not just the stone that sealed the tomb but the huge rock that blocks our lives. God has rolled away the large stone that keeps us from seeing and from sharing God. God has rolled away the boulder that stands between us and God.

You know the expression, don’t you, “that’s a huge weight off my mind?” When you worry about something, when some situation really weighs you down, and then, unexpectedly perhaps, the situation gets resolved, and you say: that’s a huge weight off my mind.

Well, friends, I am here today to tell you that in rolling away that rock in front of that tomb all these many Easters ago, God has taken a huge weight off your soul. With God, all things are possible, and whatever that rock is in your life that weighs you down, whatever sin is eating at you, whatever addiction has gotten hold of you, whatever broken relationship or illness has you captive, whatever the burden is that you are carrying,

Let God lift that burden
Let God roll that stone away
Let God do the impossible in your life.

The body is gone! Jesus lives!

Alleluia and Amen.

Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane
Bishop
Delaware-Maryland Synod

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.   John 20:1

The “first day of the week” in this passage refers to the first day after the Sabbath, the modern Sunday, and the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion.  In the early church, a tradition existed that it was Mary, the mother of Jesus, and not Mary Magdalene, who is referred to here, but most scholars agree that it was, as John indicates, Mary Magdalene.

Unlike the other biblical accounts, which tell us that Mary was accompanied by other women, and which suggest that the tomb was visited to continue burial rituals, or to look at the tomb, or to mourn, John in this passage does not mention other women, nor does he tell us why Mary came to the tomb.

But we do know this: The stone was gone, and so was our Lord. So, as we will proclaim tomorrow, and as we proclaim every Easter: He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Prayer:  We thank you Lord, for the missing stone, and for all that this signifies for us.  Amen

John Ziegler

Friday, April 6, 2012 – (Good Friday)

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  At three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”  Mark 15:33-34

I went in to a pretty high powered meeting some years ago, in which I believed that those present were about to make a decision that we had all agreed upon.  Following some previous conversation, it never occurred to me that it would go the way I wanted it.  When the vote was taken, my position lost.  I felt total abandonment by those who I thought were my colleagues and friends.  God,how could you have let this thing happen?  Wasn’t I deserving of a better outcome?

What is so shocking for us in the passion story is that Jesus comes to the place where many of us have been; a complete and total sense that God had abandoned him.  Just when all the powers of the dominations seemed to surround Jesus, he feels bereft of God’s grace and presence.  Yet this is also the power of our witness to the Gospel of Christ, that God has so completely entered the human story through the one, Jesus, even to the point of darkness and death!

 

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, stay and be with us at all times, but especially at those places in our lives when all seems to be lost and new direction is needed. When the darkness closes in, may your light continue to be near.  Amen.

 Pastor Ed Heim

Thursday, April 5, 2012 – (Maundy Thursday)

At that moment the cock crowed for the second time.  Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”  And he broke down and wept.  Mark 14:72.

It’s no wonder that Peter broke down and wept.  After all, Peter was the first disciple to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:13-19)  Jesus had even called Peter the Rock and said he would be the cornerstone of the church.   Sometimes Peter, the Rock, was more like quicksand.  Peter often questioned Christ’s teachings, and even fell asleep during Jesus’ final hours.  But how could he deny Jesus three times; even after he had insisted that he would never deny his Master?  He must have been in the depths of despair as he heard the cock crowing.

What about the rest of the story?  Peter, who on many occasions was forgiven by his Savior, became one of the greatest preachers and leaders of the Church.  What does this say to us?  Jesus, our Savior, is willing to forgive our sins and wants us to learn from our mistakes.   Upheld by the strength of Jesus, we are encouraged to improve the way we live our lives as Christians.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we are sorry for the ways we deny you.  Forgive us for the things we have done and things we have failed to do.  Give us strength to live and serve and please you in newness of life; for you are our Strength and Redeemer.  Amen.

Mary Ward

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jesus came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Mark 14: 37-38

Jesus took Peter, James and John with him further into the garden and asked them to wait while he went ahead to pray. After praying, he came back and found them asleep and rebuked him for not keeping watch as he had asked. This happened not once but three times, saying the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The faith they had in Jesus fought with their need for rest. We are like them in our desire to follow Christ’s teachings and do good. Our human nature does constant battle with our spiritual selves. We are assailed on all sides with greed, envy, jealousy, anger and hatred, causing divisions among people while our spiritual self offers joy, peace, kindness, self-control and faithfulness.

Romans 7: 21-25 – When I want to do good, evil is there with me. In my mind I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body which makes war against the law my mind accepts. It is the law of sin that makes me a prisoner. What a miserable man am I! Who will save me from this body that brings me death? I thank God for saving me through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Galatians 5: 16-17 –  . . . live by following the Spirit. Then you will not do what our sinful selves want. Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other so you can not do just as you please.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, be with us each and every day. Keep us wakeful and strengthen our faith daily. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Carl Moser

Tuesday, April 3

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take;  this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all for them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”  Mark 14: 22-24

 

As we come to our Shepherd’s table to receive the gift of life, we are reminded to pray daily to build a personal and mutual relationship with Jesus Christ. We know our Shepherd’s voice and trust his word. And as we profess to be the Shepherd’s sheep, we should willingly care for the needs of God’s children here on earth. We frequently wander off and want our own way, but we can rest assured that our Shepherd will rescue us from all places. Our Shepherd’s heart will guide us to be compassionate and loving to the flock.

The sheep can face death without fear. God’s endless grace assures us that we will have eternal life in heaven with him. So as we wake to each new day, we should let our light shine knowing the Son of Man died to save us from sin.

Prayer: Gracious and loving Heavenly Father, We give you all the praise and glory for giving us life with you. And we pray to be your humble servants as you have served us.

Debbie McElroy