Category Archives: Lent 2014

Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014

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

Easter Message from Bishop Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)

Poor Mary Magdalene!

First, she witnesses the horrors of that Friday morning and afternoon. The violent death of her beloved Lord. The shock of this tragic ending. Now she stands at an empty tomb and realizes that the body is gone. Stolen, no doubt. Not even the gardener seems to know what has happened.

Then the gardener calls her by name. She realizes it is the Lord. She is overjoyed, relieved, bewildered. But then he says these troubling words: “Do not hold on to me.” And he announces that he is leaving … again.

Mary Magdalene’s roller coaster of emotions mirror our own as we have journeyed together through Lent and Holy Week. Once again, we have stood at the foot of the cross; once again we have faced the reality of our own mortality. And once again Jesus has one more surprise for us: He lives! Victory is ours!

He says to us, too: “Do not hold on to me!” The good news of Jesus’ resurrection and of our new life in him is meant to be shared. When we hoard the blessings we have received and out of laziness or complacency fail to tell others about Jesus, we have failed our Lord.

This Easter, let’s make a new covenant with Jesus and with each other. Each day of this Easter season, let’s pray daily for strength and courage, and then let’s face the day in Easter hope and resurrection joy and tell at least one other person why we are so happy.

Alleluia, Christ is risen! YES, he is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Peace & Blessings,
Bishop Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane
Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA

Wolfgang

 

Easter Message from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My favorite story in Scripture is the account in John’s Gospel of Mary Magdalene going to the tomb. It was the first Easter, but Mary didn’t know that. She expected death. In her profound grief she couldn’t recognize Jesus. It was only when Jesus called her by name that she was able to see the risen Lord.

Jesus saw Mary. Jesus knew Mary. Jesus spoke “Mary.” It was being completely seen, utterly known and lovingly called that opened Mary Magdalene to the hope of the resurrection and into a deeper relationship with Christ. Because she was seen she could see.

This is Easter vision. We have been seen, known and called by God through the crucified and risen Savior and, having received the Spirit through baptism, we all can now see. We can see Christ, and we can see Christ in our neighbor. No one is invisible to God, and no one is invisible to us. What wondrous love is this!

So beloved, with newly opened eyes let us be bold to say, “Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Hallelujah!”

Blessed Easter,
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Saturday, April 19, 2014

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

There are times in every life when we are truly shocked. Witnessing a house fire or observing a car as it is involved in an accident are a couple of things which could surely cause us to take a step back from our daily reality. I can remember driving during a thunderstorm, seeing lightning strike a telephone pole right in front of our car and watching the sparks shower down from the wires above – just feet from our car! The feeling at those times is to question whether what we observed actually happened. So it must have been with Mary Magdalene as she approached Christ’s tomb on Easter Sunday morning, and so it is with us when we greet the sunshine on Easter Sunday and see things – at least for a moment – through her eyes. Did it really happen? Our faith tells us it did, and how grateful we are!

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for providing us with the view of your son’s resurrection from the eyes of those who were there to witness it. Thank you for the generations of having your Word handed down and for our human questioning about whether it really did happen. Most of all, thank you for the faith we have been given by you, our families, and all of those who came before us. Glory be to Christ, the risen savior!

Roger Stenersen

Good Friday, April 18, 2014

Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Matthew 27:37

What if a sign was given to all of us, and placed over our heads (like in a bubble) for everyone to see. What do you think it would say about you in a short phrase?

Sitting back and reflecting on the above Bible passage for a little while, I am not sure the sign above my head is what I would like it to say. Reflecting on how to change that for myself, I started thinking about our Church’s branding statement.

Remembering God Matters, and when you focus on God you realize how much Relationships Matter too, for your self-health and spiritual health. When those relationships are in partnership with God, you then realize You Matter for all the right reason in God’s eyes.
Only when you connect all three of these thoughts do you see clearly what God has in store for us, and our lives.

The signs over our heads are of our own doing, and if we live a life that is based on the principles the Lord laid out for us, then we have nothing to worry about. Jesus gave his life so we could have a better one; his sign was forced onto him, but ours does not have to be that way.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the opportunity to create my own sign. Thank you for giving me direction in a world with so many signs, and thank you for your love every day! In his name, Amen.

Tim Keller

Maundy Thursday, April 17, 2014

“So that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” John 13: 14-15

This is a very simple and straight-forward statement by Jesus to his disciples – do to one another as I have done for you. But this simple line can go so much deeper and cover so many levels in our lives – To be prepared to offer the lowliest of tasks for anyone. To follow the all the examples Jesus has set for you by His actions. To be humble in all we do to serve others. I wonder to myself, to be there in that exact moment must have been mind-blowing for the disciples. Here is the King of all Kings scraping the dirt of the earth off my feet. But why? Much like we try to teach a child a complicated concept through a simple task, Jesus is illustrating a true concept of ultimate love in one of the most basic ways possible. In this act, He demonstrates that we should be prepared to offer any service to those that need it – ultimately demonstrating we should even give our life if it needs to be given. While most of us will never have to go so far as death, if you are prepared to give your life over to the Lord even the lowest of tasks in the service of the Lord ultimately don’t seem like work. These acts are an offering of love.

Think about how you may have acted if you were asked to perform this task – would we huff and puff like a disgruntled teenager? He’s offering this action of his own volition and does it with love and humility. I often find that doing something for another person, especially if I do it from a place of love, rarely feels like work; Helping a stranger move from their apartment. Completing a late night project for VBS. or even just doing a children’s sermon on a Sunday morning. I offer myself to help do the work of the Lord no matter how simple or lowly it may seem and I always try to offer it from a place of love and humbleness.

Prayer:
Lord, help us to remember your lessons of love. Let us give these actions from our heart and to do so with a selfless desire to spread that love to others.

Christian Kline

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

We have a “great cloud of witnesses” in the prophets, the apostles, our pastors, and our fore-runners here at St John’s. Miss Jane Martin entitled her video history of St. John’s Church, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses.” Those who came before us here at our church ran their race and left as evidence our buildings, our stained-glass windows, various other memorials, and a living church for us.

The writer of Hebrews suggests that we should not concentrate on those past heroes of our faith, though, but that we need to fix our attention on Jesus who ran this Christian race and set our goals.

We run the race for eternal life, the prize that is already won for us, keeping our mind on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” In the running, we become more like Jesus. Even though we never reach perfection, we are improved by the striving.

Jesus endured death on the cross to pay for our “sin that clings so closely” to us. He knew that after His glorious resurrection, His victory over sin and death, He had a place reserved in heaven beside the Father.

At the end of our successful race through this life, we have a place reserved in heaven, too! In John’s gospel (John 14: 3), Jesus promises, “…I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.”

Prayer:
Father in Heaven, You sent Jesus to us and a great cloud of witnesses pointing to Him. Guide us as your church to remember our past and to plan for the future with stewardship. Lead us to serve people now and to keep a church here for future generations to gain more witnesses for You. Amen.

Tom Hefelfinger

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

In the Old Testament, a perfect animal was sacrificed as a substitute for the sinner’s transgressions. The offering expressed the sinner’s total dependence on God for forgiveness.

The death of an animal showed in a graphic way the consequences of sin. The animal was taking the consequence of the worshiper’s sin, and the sacrifice was a substitute for what the worshiper deserved.
The sinner had to admit the sin, acknowledge that his sin would cost the animal his life and also accept the financial loss that the death would create; but then the sinner could enjoy the forgiveness that resulted.

Jesus died on the cross as the ultimate substitute for your sin and removed the penalty of your sin. The message of the cross is the death of Christ and the blood of Christ but, most important, the power of Christ.

Prayer:
Lamb of God, we thank You for the hope we have in You. Amen.

Carol Miller