Tag Archives: Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018 – ELCA

It all started with such promise – the angel announcing to
Mary that the child she would bear would be called Son of the Most High; the conviction of Mary that this child would be the embodiment of God’s promised justice, that the hungry would be filled with good things and the rich sent away empty; angels announcing his birth; thousands being fed; the sick healed; the dead raised.

And then, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It was over. The world hadn’t changed. Might still made right. How ridiculously naïve to believe that any reversal of the old order could come about. Hope is for the gullible. Looking at this broken man hanging utterly helpless, naked and broken on a cross, the powers and principalities, earthly and spiritual, death and the devil must have said, “You fool.”

This, as St. Paul reminds us, is the wisdom of the world. And the world can present plenty of hard evidence that it is right: children killing children in horrific school shootings, 60 million displaced people – all of this supported by our rebellion against God, our idolatrous claim that we are in control and the world is ours. In the face of this and all of the suffering others cause and we cause others, we, too, might cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I believe that the beginning of Psalm 22 expresses the anguish of the
psalmist and the anguish of our Lord, but there is more going on here. Citing the first words of a text was, in the tradition of the time, a way of identifying an entire passage. The psalm ends this way: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. … Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.” This is the wisdom of God. Jesus’ crucifixion is the death of our death. His innocent suffering has reconciled all of creation to God. He has done it. We stake our lives on this.

This year, Easter falls on April 1. We shall have come through the Lenten desert to the Easter garden. We shall say, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!” And we shall confess this and live this in the face of worldly wisdom that is based on death. Life wins. Love wins. And if the world wants to call us April fools, we are glad to claim that title.

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 – DEMDSynod

“Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy… – Matthew 28:7-8

They were on their way to the grave after a death filled with sorrow in the midst of a busy holiday. Death comes at inopportune times when we cannot give grief its due. Now they were at the grave to finish the job of burial and to cry out their grief. They came to the grave wishing they did not have to be there, hoping it was not real, but expecting to find death. Their memories could not console them now. No laughter or hope was left. Death had taken everything from them.

When we don’t want to believe, the turned up sod and temporary marker forces us. Life is gone. Death is done. The grave has won. We have been there. We have the scars. We still carry the pain of the loss.

We come to Easter and its empty tomb because we too have a past filled with disappointments, sorrows and dead ends. We come seeking a future – the future Jesus promised. We come facing our own mortality and yet we come seeking more than comfort. We want life stronger than death.

He has been raised! Now we are challenged to let go of the pain and memories, of disappointments and despair, of sin and guilt. What may seem an unbelievable tale or words that promise something too good to be true are real. He has been raised! You will see him! Easter beckons to us. Hope slaps our disappointment in the face. Don’t be afraid. Don’t live as the dead among the living. Don’t be distant from the present hope that God has given you. You are not on your own nor are you your own. You belong not to death but to life in Christ; sin, death, and the devil have no power here.

This Easter, our first as bishop and synod, pastor and people; my great prayer and fervent hope is that we will continue to live into this story, this resurrection story – and live as if it matters.

What would we look like; how would the church be different if we took this joyful Easter hope as seriously as we do the many disappointments, dead ends, broken promises and death that confront us each day?

At Easter, we too will make our pilgrimage to the empty tomb. Let’s not go home the same way we arrived. Let God’s love astonish and amaze us one again – and let our fear be swallowed up into a great joy. We can risk everything for our love of God and neighbor; everything, for even death gives way to new life.

This is my message for you. Don’t be so busy with your preparation (Lutherans love Lent) and celebration (we also love a party) that you miss the promise of Easter: We are resurrection people! Let us go with little fear and great joy, together, to share the good news.

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 – ELCA

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb.

So begins the Easter story in the Gospel according to Matthew.

The women had lived through the pain of Friday and
the emptiness of Saturday and were expecting death.
All of their hope had come to a dead end.

And just then, as the first day of the week was dawning,
hope was restored. The angel said, “Do not be afraid;
I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here: for he has been raised, as he said.”

Instead of death – life. Instead of the end – the beginning.

On Easter, we will have glorious celebrations in our congregations
and worshiping communities. There will be rejoicing and music
and flowers and alleluias. And that’s a good thing.

But when the flowers fade and the pressures of life seem so heavy,
when the brokenness of this world breaks our spirits,
when we have come to a dead end … rejoice. Because it is exactly
there where the risen Christ meets us. It is precisely there where we
are given resurrection life. It is at that point that we say, Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. Hallelujah.

 

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.