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!

Good Friday 2017

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He took our bad, and replaced it with his good.  This Friday is good.

How blest shall be, Eternally
Who oft in faith will ponder
Why the glorious Prince of life
Should be buried yonder.

O Jesus blest, My Help and Rest,
With tears I now entreat you:
Make me love you to the last
Till in heaven I greet you.

— “Oh, Darkest Woe,” CW 137:4-5.

The colors and light in the photograph are soft and heavenly because the harsh cross that Christ endured is the way to heaven.  Good Friday is the way to Resurrection Sunday.

“It is finished!”

Maundy Thursday 2017

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“This is my body.”

“This is my blood.”

Praise the Father, who from heaven
Unto us such food has given
And, to mend what we have done,
Gave into death his only Son.

Then hold fast with faith unshaken
That this food is to be taken
By the souls who are distressed,
By hearts that long for peace and rest.

If your heart this truth professes
And your mouth your sin confesses,
Surely you will be his guest
And at his banquet ever blest.

— “Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior,” CW 313:7-8.

He is the word made flesh given to us.

Palm Sunday 2017

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They spread their cloaks and palm branches on the road, and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”

Jesus, the King of All, entered Jerusalem.  He fulfilled the word of the prophet that said, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey,” (Zechariah 9:9, ESV).

Hosanna, loud hosanna,
The little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple
The lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
Close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises,
The simplest and the best.

— “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna,” CW 130:1.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Please pray for the Christians murdered in Egypt today.

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!

Palm Sunday 2016

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As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

— Luke 19:37-40, ESV.

Every Spring, the new growth does proclaim the glory of God.  Jesus is God.  The rocks do proclaim his glory.  How much more so should we proclaim his glory for he redeemed us with his own blood?

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

Martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya One Year Ago

12717472_10153351151718144_1384525524307004071_nFor over a thousand years, followers of Islam have been waging genocide against anyone who disagrees with them.  A little over a year ago, some of these followers murdered twenty-one Coptic Christians in Libya on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  We remember these particular victims because their murderers made a video.

They died with the name of Jesus on their lips.  Because of the video, they were able to confess Christ to the world.  Christ will remember them.  (Luke 23:42-43).  Christ will remember us all.  (John 6:37-40).

Some give their lives to Christ in one bold act of confessing his name at the edge of a sword, while others give their lives through countless acts of service to others.  All Christians must give their lives because Christ gave his.  Christ gave his life, and we must follow him.

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

— Luke 9:23-25, ESV.

President Harrison of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod made a short video commemorating the anniversary of the martyrdom of the twenty-one Coptic Christians:

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.

But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day:
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

— “For All the Saints,” LSB 677:1-2, 7-8.

Notes:

Saint Valentine’s Day 2016

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I chose this muted picture of a purple wildflower because this year Valentine’s Day falls in Lent, and I thought the darker rich tone best fit the penitential nature of the season.

Who was Valentine?

A physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius, Valentine became one of the noted martyrs of the third century.  The commemoration of his death, which occurred in AD 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the Early Church of the West.  Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, Valentine left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on an irregularly shaped piece of paper.  This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine’s Day in many nations.

Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH, page 1209.

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O God of mercy, God of might,
In love and pity infinite,
Teach us, as ever in Thy sight,
To live our lives in Thee.

And may Thy Holy Spirit move
All those who live to live in love
Till Thou shalt greet in heaven above
All those who live in Thee.

— “O God of Mercy, God of Might,” LSB 852:1, 6.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day.

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.