Category Archives: Lent 2013

Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013

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

Easter Message from Presiding Bishop Rev. Mark S. Hanson

“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb” – Luke 24:2

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Easter. It is about more than an open tomb. It is the good news of the risen Christ who opens lives.

Think about Jesus’ friends after his death. Their lives were closed down by fear,
disappointment and confusion. The risen Christ appeared saying “peace be with you” and opened their lives with a liberating word of reconciliation. In the same way Christ opens your life with a baptismal promise that joins your life to his death and resurrection. “You are my child. Nothing in all creation will separate you from my love.”

Even now Christ is opening your life, your daily work, your passions and imagination. Christ is opening your daily life into a holy calling that fills the world with love. At the Lord’s table, Christ is opening you into a community that can bear even suffering with confidence, and sorrow with hope.

The risen Christ opens the Scriptures — the full depth of God’s promise made to Sarah and Abraham now coming to life in the new creation. Even when everything else is being stripped away, the risen Christ opens you to God’s promised future.

Christ opens you to God’s work of forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, is opening this way of life for you.


Easter Message from Bishop Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane

At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus. They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this … They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up. But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that’s all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head. Luke 24 : 1 – 4a, 9 – 12, as paraphrased in “The Message”

Puzzlement, shock, unbelief, head shaking, fear: all of the Gospel writers report that the initial reaction to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was anything but glorious!

Let’s be honest. How would YOU have reacted in this situation? In our human experience, dead people are just that – dead! They don’t get up and walk around; they stay dead. The idea of a dead person coming back to life is so outside of our expectation, it’s little wonder that the women and the disciples reacted with fear.

But with God, all things are possible, even the seemingly impossible (Matthew 19:26); and so this Jesus, this rabble rousing country preacher and miracle-worker who during his life time rattled everybody’s cage and pushed everyone’s envelope, once again defies the conventional. He defies even death itself and in the greatest miracle of all secures victory over death not just for himself, but for you, for me, for all of us.

With God, all things are possible. The world is full of miracles if only we look for them. I was reminded of this glorious truth recently when I read this month’s newsletter of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Wilmington, Delaware. There was a quote from Martin Luther as an Easter message: “The conception and birth of every human creature … is no less a miracle and wonder-work of God than that Adam was made out of a clod of earth, and Eve out of a fleshy rib. The world is full of such works of wonder,” Luther preached on Easter Sunday 1544.

Oh that we would pay better attention and see God at work in our own lives! God creates wonder and miracles every day, we just have to look for all the blessings that flow from God. My prayer for you this Easter is that your faith may be strengthened, your life enriched by this message of Easter.

The body is gone! Jesus is alive! Do not be afraid!

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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Then he [the criminal co-crucified next to Jesus] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:42

Today’s scripture is about a criminal facing his own mortality who cries out to Jesus to remember him in his Kingdom. If you consider this passage in light of your own inevitable mortality, you will agree that his request is timeless. Who wouldn’t ask this of the Savior, “Jesus, remember ME?”

One thing is certain! We will all die! And since all of us are permanently stained with our own sins, we need a Savior, and we need our Savior’s grace.

That is exactly what Jesus answer to the criminal gives…grace! “Today, Jesus tells the criminal, you will be with me in paradise!”

According to Jesus, there is nothing that stops our entry into the kingdom. There will be no pearly gate with the option of getting sent into eternal damnation. In fact, Jesus answer is a promise that his grace is not earned by our own good thoughts and actions. His answer also reveals that this grace is a free gift. The crucified criminal next to Jesus has nothing to offer…there is nothing he can offer to pay it back.

What a marvelous promise this is! Don’t fear. Jesus will remember you when you come into his kingdom!

Prayer: Lord, remember me always! When I die, look past my sinfulness and free me to live with you eternally! Amen.

Pastor Torben Aarsand

Good Friday, March 29, 2013

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

They thought they would put Jesus between two criminals to give him a place of dishonor. Maybe this was the first mocking of the King of Jews with His placement in this way. What could be more shameful than to surround the supposed “King” with thieves, murderers, or the “worst of the worst?”

In fact, they unknowingly gave him the place of honor, front and center, the center of attention! Jesus is the King of everything including taking on the chief place of dishonor for He is the King of sufferers as well as the King of Saints.

Prayer: Lord, help us to always put Christ front and center in our lives. Let us be like the sinner beside him and call out to be forgiven and accepting of all that He has suffered for us. Amen

Diane Ballentine

Maunday Thursday, March 28, 2013

(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

Jesus wanted to celebrate the Passover meal with his disciples to prepare them for the suffering and torments he would have to endure before everything that had been ordained by God had been fulfilled.

He understood his time on earth was limited and there was much he needed to teach his followers. He instituted the act of Holy Communion at the Passover using the elements of bread as his body and the wine for his blood, asking that they remember his sacrifice. This act has been celebrated for over two thousand years.

He told them that he was going where they could not follow – until their time- to prepare a place for them in the Kingdom of God.

Prayer: Father, help us to remember your life and sacrifice each time we take communion, and what it means to our daily living. Amen.

Carl L. Moser

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

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 his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Back during the Thanksgiving season, our daughter Camille inspired the four of us at home to register for a 5-K run at Hagerstown Community College. (Actually a number of our members ran, too. ) This length of race would be a little over 3 miles. It sounded to all of us fairly simple at the time. The day of the race came, the starting gun sounded and off we all went. Now once you get into the race, the reality hits you that you want to make it to the end. In other words, you want to “endure” the suffering, the pain, the aches of your muscles and the pounding in your chest so that you can just finish, maybe even strongly.

Our passage today from Hebrews suggests to us that our faith journey can be likened to a race. About halfway through the 5-K, I found myself focusing and imagining the end as a way to find strength and inspiration to keep going. In our faith race, we too are encouraged to “look to Jesus” as our inspiration and spiritual support to remain faithful in the midst of the troubles that face us. For just as Jesus endured through the trials and tribulations of human life, we can too as we focus maybe not so much on our immediate aching and pains but the final victory that comes from crossing the finish line.

Prayer: Lord, be with us in our faith journey and challenges. Help us keep our eyes on you and thereby find the strength to stay faithful in the middle of what befalls. Keep us from stopping our floundering. Amen.

Pastor Ed Heim

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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

Paul was speaking to people just like us. He wrote this letter to help the Christians in Corinth change their ways.

In preparing my reflection, I decided to look at this verse in various translations. Whether the term used is ‘perishing’, ‘lost’, or ‘hell-bent on destruction’ (all synonyms for death), the general message is that the only way of salvation is the power of GOD. Death on a cross is such a horrible thing to imagine, but we have to realize that Christ’s death (as predicted) was that way to save us from our sins. In studying the Old Testament, it seemed that GOD was very powerful; floods, big tablets, parting seas, tumbling walls, just to name a few. But in the New Testament, in this particular verse, all of the translations are clear – our salvation, or deliverance from sin, is because of the very power of GOD.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive our foolishness and help us recognize the power of Your Word. Amen.

Carol Miller