Resurrection Sunday 2017

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Now I will cling forever
To Christ, my Savior true;
My Lord will leave me never,
Whate’er He passes through.

He rends death’s iron chain;
He breaks through sin and pain;
He shatters hell’s grim thrall;
I follow Him through all.

— “Awake, My Heart, with Gladness,” LSB 467:6.

Happy Easter & Pascha!

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

For Others

“Christ first takes possession of the conscience, and when it is right in faith toward God, then he also directs us to do work toward our neighbor…   God does not desire the Christian to live for himself.  Yea, cursed is the life that lives for self.  For all that one lives after he is a Christian, he lives for others.”

—Martin Luther,
Homily for Trinity 19, Church Postils.
Emphasis added.

Blessed Ascension 2016

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“… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.  While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them.  They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven?  This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a Sabbath day’s journey away.

— Acts 1:8-12, HCSB.

The Festival of the Ascension is important because it emphasizes the physicality of our salvation.  Christ did not evaporate after his Easter resurrection, instead he appeared to hundreds of people over the course of 40 days.  He touched them, he ate with them, he spoke with them.  He left hundreds of witnesses.  He lived in time and space.  He stood on a real mountain, and rose from a real place.  He was one of us, and still is one of us.

Though he ascended into heaven, a higher dimension, so that he could fill the entire universe, he is still a human being.  (Ephesians 4:10).

Coming exactly 40 days after Easter, Ascension Day liturgically reminds us that Christ tarried here, and gave us many witnesses, and that his calling was not just to pay for sin, but also to bring us to be with him.  That is why he waited and stayed, to give us faith through the word of truth preached by his apostles.  It was his resurrection and the proof of his resurrection that he gave, that made the apostles bold.  They touched him, they saw him ascend.

The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.  And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.  Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.  But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.  From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

— Ephesians 4:10-16, HCSB.

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Heaven is our home.  Happy Ascension!

Be at peace.

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Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going…  I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

— Jesus of Nazareth
(John 14:1-6, ESV).

By his death and resurrection, Christ proved that he is Lord of all.  He kept his promise, and will keep every promise.  He works to prepare a place for us where all that is wrong will be made right.  And he will come again.

Be at peace.  The Lord is risen!

Resurrection Sunday 2016

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Mary of Magdala was the first, but not the last, to report, “I have seen the Lord!”  (John 20:18, ESV).

He is risen!

“Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw when wayfaring.”

“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
the glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
My Lord, my hope, is arisen;
To Galilee He goes before you.”

Christ indeed from death is risen,
Our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen.  Alleluia.

— “Christians, to the Paschal Victim,” LSB, 460:2-3.

He is risen, indeed!

Good Friday 2016

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It is finished!

Χριστός,

Α Ω.

Ash Wednesday 2016

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“God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life …”  (Genesis 2:7 KJV).  However, man fell into sin, and God cursed him saying, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  (Genesis 3:19 ESV).  We all share the same fate as the first man.  In Adam all die.

In Adam we have all been one,
One huge rebellious man;
We all have fled that evening voice
That sought us as we ran.

“God created man in his own image …”  (Genesis 1:27 ESV).  But after sin, Adam’s children were born, not in the image of God, but in the image of Adam.  (Genesis 5:3).  Adam’s son Cain murdered his brother Abel.

We fled Thee, and in losing Thee
We lost our brother too;
Each singly sought and claimed his own;
Each man his brother slew.

Jesus Christ came in our flesh.  (Hebrews 2:14).  He was our brother, but we crucified him.  Like Cain, we killed our brother.

But Thy strong love, it sought us still
And sent Thine only Son
That we might hear His Shepherd’s voice
And, hearing Him, be one.

On Ash Wednesday, Christians receive ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross as a visual reminder of the consequences of sin.  From the ground we were created, and to the ground we will return: “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”  (Book of Common Prayer, burial).

O Thou who, when we loved Thee not,
Didst love and save us all,
Thou great Good Shepherd of mankind,
O hear us when we call.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  (1 Corinthians 15:22 KJV).  The Christian Church is the Body of Christ.  As he rose from the dead and conquered sin and death, in him so shall we.

Send us Thy Spirit, teach us truth;
Thou Son, O set us free
From fancied wisdom, self-sought ways,
To make us one in Thee.

— “In Adam We Have All Been One,” LSB, 569:1-5.

Merry Christmas 2015

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Today is the first day of Christmas, the annual feast celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is:

“God of God,
Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made …
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary
and was made man …”

— Nicene Creed.

Christ always received worship and adoration from the angels, for He always was God.  Now they are adoring Him also as man.

— Theodoret, “Catalog of Testimonies,”
Book of Concord, Readers’ 2nd Edition, 632.

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A great and mighty wonder,
A full and holy cure:
The virgin bears the infant
With virgin honor pure!

The Word becomes incarnate
And yet remains on high,
And cherubim sing anthems
To shepherds from the sky.

Proclaim the Savior’s birth:
“To God on high be glory
And peace to all the earth!”

— “A Great and Mighty Wonder,” LSB 383:1-2.

Merry Christmas!

Blessed Christmas Eve 2015

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Christmas Eve is the last day of Advent.  Tomorrow, we celebrate the coming of Jesus as a baby.  Jesus is fully God and fully man.  He is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made …” but who also “was made man.”  (Nicene Creed).

The complete divinity and complete humanity of Jesus Christ cannot be overemphasized especially in this world of ignorance where so many think that Christians and Mohammedans worship the same God, and that all religions are “basically the same.”  No one is like Christ, and no god can compare.

What happened at the Incarnation (March 25) and at Christmas (December 25) testifies to the true nature of God, the Trinity.  The Incarnation is beautiful and mysterious, and evinces a glory deeper than the greatest show of glory.  It is a hidden glory of weakness and love.  Almighty God became a real human baby.

Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting Light:
O Christ, Redeemer, save us all
And hear Thy servants when they call.

To God the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
Praise, honor, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally.

— “Creator of the Stars of Night,” LSB 351:1, 6.

Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!

A Freedom in Summer

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One freedom in Summer is a friend, a mountain bike, long trails, and a warm sunset along the shores of Tennison Bay.

In Christ, every day is its own freedom.  (John 8:36).