Category Archives: Lent 2016

Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016

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

Easter Message from Bishop Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane

Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and
they did not believe them.
Luke 24:10-11

Hmmm, an idle tale! There are lots of people nowadays who think that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is “an idle tale,” that it is a made-up story that couldn’t possibly be true. Fact is, even the apostles did not believe it when the women came running to report that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had risen from the dead. And can you blame them? The idea that a dead person has come back from the dead is simply preposterous.

But that is just the point, isn’t it? In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has done the impossible! God has raised Jesus from the dead and in so doing has won the victory over death once and for all.

Because Jesus has risen, our lives are now transformed; death no longer has the final say. This transformation affects our lives in the here and now, enabling us to live as God’s people: people who have been transformed in order to transform the world!

As Martin Luther wrote in his Easter Hymn of 1524:

So let us keep the festival
Whereto the Lord invites us;
Christ is himself the Joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By His grace He doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended.
Hallelujah!

With the sunshine of the resurrection in our hearts, let’s tell the world: Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

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

Wolfgang

 

Easter Message from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Easter is early this year, and in many places across this church trees will still be bare and fields barren. It might even snow. But on Easter morning we will gather to greet the risen Son and give thanks to God for the new life we have in Jesus Christ.

Two things come to mind this Easter when there is still only the hint of spring: Jesus’ words to his disciples just before his crucifixion and a hymn.

Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus was talking about his death, but he was also assuring his disciples and us that death is not the end, that, though it might seem impossible and even terrifying to step into the void, God brings life out of death.

The hymn is ELW 379.

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
love lives again, that with the dead has been;
love is come again like wheat arising green.

The tune is actually a French Christmas carol. How perfect that, in the bleak midwinter, the promise of spring was planted.

St. Paul wrote, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” We have already fallen into the earth and died. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” We will not remain alone. We will bear fruit.

The seed has been planted in all the barren places in the world and in our lives. That gives us the power and the hope – especially in the face of our brokenness – to see life where the world only sees death … in refugee camps and hospice units, in parched earth and in floods, in oppression and denied justice we are bold to confess. Now the green blade rises. Now love lives again. Now love comes again like wheat arising green.

Christ is risen.

Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

Easter message from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton 2016 from ELCA on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42

How often are we approached by people with needs or requests? It is probably accurate to say that those who approach us by name receive a more personal response. Those requests that come to us by strangers are put in another category. It’s not simply that we are totally not interested in the stranger, but the source of the request becomes important.We see this in the text. This is the only place in all of

We see this in the text. This is the only place in all of scripture where Jesus is addressed simply by name without any reverential qualifications. This criminal feels so close and connected to Jesus that his need becomes so personal. And Jesus likewise responds in kind. Jesus goes beyond the simple request of remembrance, to one of including the criminal with the promise of “paradise.” This one on the cross has become almost as a disciple. Jesus who has included all people, especially the outcasts and sinners, in his ministry offers salvation again, even in the midst of his own suffering on the cross. From the cross, Jesus shows us again his reason for being.

The truly good news for us as well is that Jesus knows us all by name. Through our baptisms, we come to share the life, ministry and connection to God the Father by our relationship to Jesus. In him, salvation is offered and eternal presence (paradise) is assured in the ministry of Jesus to all people. We also know Jesus by name, and are encouraged to call upon him in all circumstances of our lives. Like the criminal on the cross, let us be so bold.

Prayer: Dear Lord, deepen our relationship to you always that we may call upon you by name, that we may be at peace to trust your response. Keep our hearts from rebuking and not trusting. AMEN.

Pastor Heim

Good Friday, March 25, 2016

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Luke 23:33

Luke in this passage says the place of Christ’s death is called The Skull. Other translations use the word Golgotha, meaning “a skull”, or use the Latin form of Golgotha: “Calvary”. These references to “skull” are thought by tradition to describe a low, rounded hill, although a hill is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

But whatever its actual shape, it was apparently a place of execution where the vilest malefactors were put to a lingering death. And in this case not only a lingering death but an ignominious and shameful death, surrounded by criminals.

However, interestingly enough, none of the gospel writers dwelt upon the horrors of this terrible death, each limiting himself to the bare recording of facts, without a trace of emotion.

But we, with plenty of emotion, certainly understand what all of these events mean for our salvation.

Prayer: God, let us never forget that, for us, “they crucified Jesus.” Amen

John and Marge Ziegler

Maunday Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jesus said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22: 15-16

This is the day Jesus knew was coming. In hindsight we can all see the path that was laid out for him; to suffer, die and then rise. At the time the disciples did not quite grasp the plan that Jesus had laid out before them. Even with the same knowledge, we too still have trouble understanding the plan that is laid out before us. But at this point in his journey, Jesus understood where his path would take him and what he had to do. “I will not eat it until it is fulfilled…” We all know what we must do. I particularly connect to this part of the passage; “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you…” This pits Jesus’ human desire to commune with his followers against the certain knowledge that he must step out from what is comfortable and suffer to reach the ultimate goal. Walking into the unknown is scary, but walking into a known challenge can be even worse, especially knowing it involves your death; leaving your desires behind to suffer for the bigger plan. Jesus left his desires behind to fulfill the biggest plan. May we all have just a speck of that strength.

Prayer: Lord, feed us in this Passover meal with the strength to do what needs to be done and loving courage to live in God’s plan for us.

Christian Kline

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the 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 this seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2

As I look back on my life I tend to feel like I have been running an endless series of races -get through high school and get into college, finish college and get a job in the “real world”, start a family, a long list of goals, action plans or regarding this metaphor, races. The issue is that these human experiences I have termed as races can eventually lead to a dead end pointing to the question – What was this all for?

The Lord unveils in Hebrew 12: 1-2 the ultimate race that ends in glory, fulfillment, and purpose much deeper and more important than any human experience we encounter. First, the Lord identifies a beautiful image of a “cloud of witnesses”; I assume resembling the spectators at a race or competition. This crowd is encouraging us– all the saints that have come before us that finished the race successfully and are now experiencing God’s glory.

The Lord then states that we “throw off” sin like a runner losing excess body fat. So as Christ-followers we must lay aside everything that hinders our faith run so that we finish strong within his will and purpose.

The running metaphor in this passage denotes a marathon and not a sprint as is seen in the phrase “with endurance.” We go the distance with dogged determination, following the path that he has marked out for us. As we progress and seek to “win” the race we are to keep our eyes on the final prize – our Lord Jesus, the perfecter of our faith race. He accomplished his victory by his sacrificial death on the cross, which cleared the way so that we could enter the race of faith. He has removed all the hurdles that could have defeated us, so we could win by entering his eternal glory.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help us as your children to look beyond our present hurdles and keep our eyes fixed on that which matters more than any earth-bound accomplishment– your promised rewards in your kingdom, that we may know that in the end that is what this race (life) is all about!

Jim Cannon

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

“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

What is the message of the cross? Sacrifice, Love, Forgiveness… characteristics often associated with weakness – not the display of power we might expect from an almighty God. We often see world leaders, world leader wannabes, our neighbors and ourselves blustering and bluffing to present a façade of strength rather than expose our true weakness. That would be folly! Everyone knows that you must operate from a position of strength. Yet here is God incarnate, choosing the weakness of human flesh to show us what is most important to him. Not only what is most important to him but what is also most important for us. For those who recognize their weakness and need for salvation, God has shown through sacrifice the power of love and redemption. When the message of the cross is at work in our hearts, it is surely the power of God within us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to recognize the wisdom in the way that you have chosen. We are grateful for the love and sacrifice that began your powerful work within us. Amen

Bill Sinclair