Category Archives: Lent 2015

Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

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

Easter Message from Bishop Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark 16:8a

Terror and fear in response to the resurrection? Dead silence from those whom Jesus commissioned to spread the Gospel?

Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome ran off in panic, reports Mark in the shorter ending of his Gospel. The young man they had encountered at the empty tomb had told them to “go and tell,” but they do exactly the opposite: “they said nothing to anyone.”

The women must have gotten over their shock, though, because Mark goes on to say that “they told briefly to those around Peter” (16:18b). And what a good thing that is! Had the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection kept quiet, you and I would not gather on Easter Sunday to celebrate the new life that God has given to us in Jesus Christ!

This story is worth telling. We today may be afraid, too. We may think our faith is a private matter and that we might offend someone by bringing it up. After all, aren’t money and politics and religion taboo subjects at cocktail parties lest disagreements mar the moment?

But living as a disciple of Jesus is living as a risk taker. 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,

The Gospel of Mark ends abruptly. The women came to the tomb to care for the body of their friend and Lord. They expected death. Seeing the stone rolled away, they entered the tomb; they entered into death. They didn’t find Jesus. Instead, they saw a young man, who told them not to be amazed, that Jesus had risen. This same stranger told them to tell the disciples and then head to Galilee. Is it any wonder that terror and amazement seized them?

We are on the other side of the first Easter. We have grown used to the story of the resurrection. The good news brings hope and comfort. It brings freedom and joy. But I don’t think it causes terror and amazement. Maybe we are missing something. The Greek word for amazement, “ekstasis”, means “change of place.” And that is what has happened to us and all of creation because of the resurrection. Before Easter, we stood in a place of sin and death. After Easter, we stand in a place of forgiveness and life. Everything has changed. We are not the same. The world is not the same. The deadly, but familiar, way of the world can no longer be counted on. This new reality of forgiveness, life and salvation is and should be unsettling. Terror and amazement indeed!

The world is turned upside down. It might look the same, but we are standing in a different place. Christ is risen. We are risen. Alleluia!

Blessed Easter,

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

Saturday, April 4, 2015

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

Many of us get caught up in the reality of everyday activities – work, school, eating, paying bills, sleeping, repeat on and on . . . and don’t forget to breathe. From personal experience, I often overlook the astonishing things that Christ has done. In John 20:1, it mentions that the stone had been removed from the tomb; as unappealing as that sounds, the removal of the stone is such an amazing symbol of Christ’s power and love for us.

I’m sure I can’t be the only one guilty of it, but I often find myself oblivious to the everlasting love of Christ, overlooking the miracles that allowed us to be saved so that we may have eternal life with God.

Prayer: I pray, Lord, that you will help guide us and allow us to have a new perspective of your wonderful works. I pray that you fill us with your love and wisdom so we may be messengers advocating eternal life with you. Amen.

Kayla Beard-Shaffer

Good Friday, April 3, 2015

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

As we embark upon Good Friday, arguably among the holiest of holy days, the tension and the anticipation are palpable. When I read this passage, I can clearly envision the darkened landscape at Golgotha, ‘the place of the skull.’ Was the darkness symbolic of Satan’s imminent victory as the Son of God was so close to death? I can see the people milling about under the three crosses as they wait to see what will happen.

Will Elijah come to save Jesus from this horrible fate? Will he continue to be taunted and given vinegar to quench his thirst? But more clearly than these, I see the cross of Jesus rising ominously in the dark with his nearly lifeless body hanging in tortured defeat. How truly deserted and forsaken he must have felt. But through all of the pain, despair and fear through his obedience unto death, Jesus claimed victory and pardon for us and handed Satan his defeat.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Please help us to use the darkness and despair of Good Friday to gain a better understanding of the unbelievable gift of eternal life that could only come through Jesus’ pain, suffering, and death. Help us to prepare to know the joy and victory that comes from finding the empty tomb on Easter morning. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Tara Conrad

Maundy Thursday, April 2, 2015

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

In chapter 14 from the book of Mark, many pivotal events occur that lead up to the arrest of Jesus; here we find the Passover meal, Judas betrays Jesus, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and Jesus predicts the disciples’ and Peter’s denial of ever knowing him, to name just a few of the events.  Chapter 14 verse 27 states, “And Jesus said to them, You will all become deserters, for it is written.”  Peter speaks out and tells Jesus that he will never disown him.  Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times before the cock crows twice. That night Jesus is arrested and all the disciples desert him.  In the midst of the chaos during Jesus’ arrest, bystanders recognize Peter as one of the disciples. Fearful that he too will be drawn in to suffer with Jesus, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times.  Peter’s only thought was to escape from this chaos and flee to save his own life.  When safely alone, Peter realizes what he has done. He immediately weeps because he is in bitter shame for denying ever knowing Jesus.  Quickly, Peter turns to the Lord, seeking forgiveness.

So, here is Peter, the Rock, one of Jesus’ most devoted disciples, saying that he would never disown Jesus. And what does he do when the pressure is on?  Well, in his weakness, Peter does the very thing he said he wouldn’t do. He denied knowing Jesus, not once, but three times.

How many times in our life have we been weak to express what we believe in because we are afraid of what other people may think of us?  Or we consider ourselves to be good and faithful servants to our Lord, but we fail to help someone in need?  Sometimes we are impatient or angry with other people. We may insincerely gossip about people. We are far from being perfect, and our Lord knows this. He knows our weaknesses and imperfections. However, our Lord is merciful and he still loves us through it all!   So when we do wrong, let us quickly repent and seek God’s forgiveness.  Just as Peter did when he wept and asked God for forgiveness and it was given to him, so it will be given to us as well.

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your unending mercy and love. Help us to repent and seek your forgiveness when we fall from your grace.  Amen

Mary Kerns

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

“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

For me this may be one of the most telling passages for the human condition; we have been given an important task to do, but we end up just taking a nap.

I consider myself a night-owl. I often stay up late working on some project on my computer, or reading Wikipedia through a random string of endless topics, or sometimes just binge watching an entire television series on Netflix. Even when working on something important, the internet makes it extremely easy to stray off-topic. The next thing you know is that a few hours have passed instead of a few minutes. While this may be a trite example of my ADD, these very same actions and lack of focus happen in our everyday lives all the time. We indeed find it hard to stay focused and awake for God.

When I read this passage, I can almost hear a sarcastic tone in the voice of Jesus as he is talking to Peter. “Could you not keep awake one hour?” One hour. Really? Is it that hard? If we reflect on our own lives, we all know that even the simplest of God’s callings can be difficult to act upon, even something as simple as keeping our eyes open. Also interesting is that Jesus calls Peter by his old name, Simon. The name Peter, which translates to “rock,” was given to Simon when Jesus called him to be a “fisher of men” rather than just a catcher of fish. Clearly this is not one of Peter’s strongest moments, and calling him Simon was a callback to his earlier un-focused and weaker life. When faced with a new challenge, it’s all too easy for us to slip back into our old routines. We all have our Simon days.

I also find the imagery interesting in this passage. This is in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus has gone to pray, knowing that he soon will be turned over to the Romans by Judas. Here at the foot of the Mount of Olives, Simon-Peter “the rock” is at the base of a great mountain (or “rock” if you will) of God and still fails to drawn on his power to fulfill Jesus’ simple request. It’s hard not to read this passage and be instantly depressed – what hope is there for any of us?

Jesus has not given up on Peter though. “The spirit indeed is willing.” God knows that we want to be strong. But we have to remember that this strength comes from God, not from our own flesh. This passage is a segway into the writings of Paul in Romans 7:18: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” None of us choose to be weak, we just always end up there somehow, and it’s usually when we decide to operate under our own power rather than rely on God. We all know what happens to Jesus next, and the disarray this put the disciples in for a while. But with open eyes and open hearts they were able to pull themselves together and let God to use them to travel the path that he had set out for them. Through prayer and focus we can call on the power of God to “stay awake” and keep watch for Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, my request is simple. Help me to stay awake so that I can keep watch for you and follow your path. Amen

Christian Kline

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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 of 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

Growing up in the church, children wonder, “When can we have bread?” It a mysterious part of the service that they watch all of the older children and grownups receive until they are old enough to understand. First Communion is celebrated as a step towards becoming an adult in the congregation.

We know Jesus sacrificed himself for us and the Eucharist is something that we share just like his disciples did so long ago. It is something special, a means of grace, and all of our sins are forgiven because of Jesus. Through the years, we hear the words countless times and they become ingrained in our being. We take the sacrament humbly, reminded that our Savior gave his body and blood so that we could be forgiven.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we give thanks for your sacrifice for our sins. May each time we take the body and blood of the covenant be as special as the first time it was received. In your Name we pray.  Amen.

Emily Boward