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“And Therefore,” A New Easter Tradition…that I highly recommend!

Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional Thought of the Day”

51 Listen to this secret truth: we shall not all die, but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant, as quickly as the blinking of an eye. For when the trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised, never to die again, and we shall all be changed.
53 For what is mortal must be changed into what is immortal; what will die must be changed into what cannot die. 54  So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true: “Death is destroyed; victory is complete!”
1 Corinthians 15:51-54 (TEV)

12 For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ through your faith in the active power of God, who raised him from death. Colossians 2:12 (TEV)

4 By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life. 5 For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was. Romans 6:4-5 (TEV)

Christ is risen! In old chronicles we read how the faithful in Russia used to embrace each other with this greeting. They had undergone tangible renunciation during the period of Lent, and now that this period was over, they experienced a real, immense overflowing of joy. By entering into the rhythm of the Church’s year they knew quite tangibly that life had triumphed and that life was beautiful. We still celebrate Easter today, of course, but the grey veil of doubt has spread over the heart of Christendom, robbing us of joy. So is Easter obsolete, a word powerless to inspire hope?

A few years ago, I wrote an Easter sermon called “So what”. And as I took the church through the Easter Acclimation, I asked them to respond one more time:

Pastor: Alleluia! Christ has Risen!
Church; HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!!!
Pastor: And therefore…
Church: WE ARE RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

The concept worked well, and with Great energy, they responded. It worked so well, we used that call and response for the rest of Easter (which is celebrated for 7 weeks in our church)

But what I would have never expected happened the next year, when I was planning on only doing the traditional Acclimation, and one of my elders, seeing me pause, enthusiastically and loudly proclaimed the “And therefore” and the entire church responded with the “We are Risen Indeed!”

It is now tradition!

And some poor pastor 30 years from now will have to consider whether it is a tradition he is willing to pay the price of changing!

But I love it. It helps drive the meaning of Easter home. In a world where, as Pope Benedict notes, Easter has become obsolete ( You rarely see church attendance go up on Easter anymore, when it was once the only day some would show up) this little tradition is making a difference.

It makes people realize the Resurrection is personal, they have a major stake in it. THeir role in the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus is talked about throughout scripture, and especially in Paul’s writings (there are more than the ones above)

And what we now know as a promise, and see hints of here and there, it is guaranteed. We will be changed, we are immortal, and our bodies will one day resemble this. We dwell in the presence of God, and death’s defeat is sure.

Easter matters, and however it takes to make that something we realize, for ourselves and can teach with conviction to those who follow is a not a bad tradition to have.

With Christ, you have risen indeed. Alleluia! AMEN!


Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 126). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

For Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and The Glory: The Prayer of Easter!

For Thine IS the Kingdom,

The Power, and the Glory!

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

In Jesus Name

We need to be Reminded – 

Yesterday, as I was at a loss for words for this message, I received an email from Linda and Tom.

It opened up with these words,

“You just can’t let me forget that God is ever present in our lives.”

Then he added,   

“Don’t stop !”

As I read them, the words that we heard from another letter this morning burned even deeper in my heart

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before.

All of us need to be reminded of the good news, that God is ever-present in our lives.

Solomon once wrote

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 2  A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3  A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4  A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (NLT)

The passage goes on for another 4 verses, 8 more comparisons of what we might say is a contrast between good and bad, joy and sorrow if we don’t hear how the thought ends,

11  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

In Solomon’s time, this is true, we couldn’t father the scope of God’s work. Now, in the Gospel message, in the good news, we see the scope of God’s work as we realize the message revealed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We have heard this message, a message that God is ever-present in your lives.

(wait…)

I said the Lord is with YOU.

Oh! Now you remember.  As Tom wrote – don’t stop telling me this! We need to hear that God is ever-present with us. He died for our sin, was buried and rose again!

Alleluia! He is Risen!

(He is Risen indeed!)

And that means?
(we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!)

in other words
The Lord is With You!
(and also with You!)

AMEN!

The Message of Hope

Hear Paul again,

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

Most important is actually a little weak, it is not only of prime importance, this is foundational. It is the basis for everything else in our lives.

That Christ died – not just that He died, but for you He died but that He was buried and raised from the dead, which is what we celebrate today.
Later Paul will say that if Jesus didn’t die and rise from the dead, we of all people are to be pitied more than anything else in the world.

Jesus death for our sins, Paul tells us, was told about for centuries prior to His being born. Over and over the Old Testament tells us He would die, that God would provide an offering for our sins, and proof of the depth of His love and commitment to us.

The same for His burial and resurrection, and the praises that would result, as God made sure that we knew this wasn’t haphazard, but that this previous weekend was planned before He ever created light.

Jesus would die for our sins, be buried and rise again.

We need to hear this and hear it again and again.  Without the series of events for Holy Week, we cannot hear what we need to,

That the Lord is with you!

The Witnesses

Paul wants to make sure the Corinthians know this well, so well, that they can base their lives on the Jesus’ death for our sins, on His Burial and Resurrection.

Maybe they won’t believe me, he thinks.  No problem.  I’ll refer them to other, for there are so many others who can bear witness.  Peter’s in town, they call him Cephas, he can share how important this message is.  Paul is going to go through all the eye witnesses to the physical resurrection of Jesus so that people will know.

It’s not a dream, it is not something Paul cooked up, it is something that happened, really happened. Five Hundred people witnesses it all at once, not just one hear and one there, 500 at once, and most still lived, in case people wanted to get an opinion other than Paul’s!

And Paul wants us to be assured of it, in order that our lives are based on it.

Paul’s words at the end – it doesn’t matter who tells you, the message is the same, and people like James are more than willing to die, even as they share it.  We don’t know if Paul was there when James was martyred, but we know he was when Stephen forgave him, and all those who killed him, simply because he trusted in Jesus, the one who died for Stephen’s sins, and Paul’s and yours and mine.  As he trusted in the Jesus, who was buried and rose again from the dead.

Whatever we are now!
We often talk of Christ’s death – for our sins, but there is more to the story of Easter than that.  Paul gets to that in verse 10, and what he says of himself, is true for every one of us, read the words with me,

10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me.

For that grace, that very same grace is yours.   It is not special to Paul but is the very blessing that God gives to everyone He calls, every person He pours His Spirit on, making them part of His church.

You see, just like if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead our lives are meaningless, so are they not the same if we don’t realize the change He is making to us because Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and Jesus is Risen!

and, therefore?

We are risen to a new life, a life lived with God, a life that we need to know God is ever-present in.  Something we can’t stop reminding each other of, even in the times where we aren’t sure that God will make these things beautiful.  Sure of that, and that being the foundation of our life, we can understand why the Paul told Hebrew Christians,

23  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)
That is part of the new life of Paul, to continually remind people of the gospel, that Jesus died for our sins, that He was buried, and that Praise God with everything in us, for He has risen!

And that means….

Why we end our prayer with praise

48 days ago, on Ash Wednesday, we began a look at the Lord’s prayer.  We finished the requests on Friday, as we realized that at the cross Jesus delivered us from evil and answered every request.

Which leaves only this to finish that journey today, as we celebrate our life with God.

Let us pray,

Our Father, Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever. AMEN!

Alleluia He is Risen….therefore We are Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Alleluia, He is Risen! Therefore

We are Risen Indeed!

† IHS 

May you rejoice as you realize the gifts of God our Father, poured out on you in Baptism, as we are united with Christ’s death and Resurrection!

 

It’s not just for Easter Season!

For someone whose been to church for a while, some phrases we say are as automatic as responding to someone who sneezes.

They sneeze, we say, “God bless you”

For those who’ve been around this church and many others, if I were to say, “The Lord is with you”…. Hahaha… I knew some of you would not wait to hear me respond…so please – don’t respond to this next one…

“Alleluia! He is Risen@” you would normally answer, “He is Risen Indeed!”

Not today, today I want you to respond, “Therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

Let us try it – “Alleluia – He is Risen!”

therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

One more time?

“Alleluia – He is Risen!”

therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

We desperately need to understand this – that because He died, and He rose, we too with the church in Rome, can consider ourselves to be dead to the power of sin, and alive to God, through Christ Jesus.

That has to become part of our daily thought, to realize we are dead to sin, and alive to God through Christ.  As it does, we become more and more aware of His love for us, and His walking with us through life.

How we would want to live

With 15 years of being a fulltime pastor now, I think one of the greatest challenges that exist for people is to understand the Doctrine of Justification personally, in their daily lives.  Or to put it clearly – to get the connection between the phrase Alleluia! He is Risen, and “therefore we are Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!

We know how God expects us to live, loving Him, loving those around us.  We understand that is God’s salvation is His gift to us, and it is found in trusting Christ, not in our works. Many of us have known these truths as long as we can remember. 

Yet when we look at our lives, we struggle, because there great truths aren’t always seen in our daily actions, We know what’s good, but can we live that way throughout our lives? It’s a paradox, one that can make us question whether God really is active in our lives. Or take the opposite tack, and try to excuse and defend our sin, rather than seeking the comfort

Though we think more of Romans 7 and 8 when we talk about our struggle with sin,  it really begins here, in the first verses of chapter 6.  Here Paul begins to address sin, and our being declared without sin, because of Jesus.  We lose our ability to just dismiss it, or justify it’s constant presence in our lives.  First, he deals with the dismissal, that sin isn’t that big of a deal, because God is glorified as He forgives and cleanses us of sin.  Therefore, more sin equals more glory, so no big deal?

He says we can’t let that attitude even be born in our lives, because, we’ve died with Christ.  Having died with Christ, why should we go back to it?

Paul strips away our excuses for our sin, by reminding us of what happened.  Being in bondage to sin isn’t our normal way of life anymore.

Hear the Message! 

That’s the key to this passage, sin and its power over us is history, sin doesn’t have the power we once knew it to have.  It cannot, for we have been baptized into Christ, joined with Him

And as we have been united with Christ – the words are incredible there – we are nailed to the cross with Christ, they are compound words – syn-staurothe – crucified together with Christ, Synthapto, buried together with Him.  The prefix syn indicating a communal aspect – all together in this, sharing in it, one with Him in His death.

These picture us so untied to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that we can’t be separated from it,   Paul then goes on to say, if this is true regarding being one with His death, we will be one with His resurrection, in His tossing aside death, in His leaving sin so powerless – that we are considered dead to each other.

For Alleluia!  Christ is Risen! Therefore?

Consider yourself…

So what do we do?  We realize what Paul is saying to the church in Galatia as well,

24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.   Galatians 5:24 (NLT)

That is what living in Christ is all about – about leaving our sin, our passions and desires, nailed to the cross – and when we struggle with sin, to bring it back there and leave it where it belongs.

You’re dead to its power – and alive to Christ.  Because God claimed you in baptism.

When we said earlier that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, that’s what we know, yet it is something for which we need daily reminder. It’s why we pray that God would lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil, so that we will know He does. It is why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and hear St Paul say that every time we do this, knowing Christ, we proclaim His death until He comes again.

Because in proclaiming His death, we are proclaiming the victory, the liberation of us from the power of sin.  Delivering us into a life filled with the Father’s love and mercy and comfort and peace.

So you sinned this week, God’s dealt with it, and when you face temptation, your struggle is not to overcome it by your own strength, but to look to Christ, know you are in His presence, flee to His side, to the cross, and know that sin cannot defeat you there. Remember you are baptized into Christ’s death, and raised with Him, think of the body and blood given to you in this place, and know God has separated you from your enemy sin.

That’s what this service, and Sunday School, and our Bible study are all about.

To help us know this.

That we are dead to the power of sin, and alive to God through Christ.

For Praise God, He is Risen, and therefore we are risen indeed, Alleluia?

 

Christmas Day Sermon – He IS RISEN

 He is Risen Indeed!

John 1:1-14

 

May we know the joy that is our because of Christ’s Birth, Death, Resurrection and Ascension as we look forward to His coming again

 

† IHS †

 

Pastor Parker Parable;  Christmas is like Opening the batteries first.

It’s time for another Pastor Parker Parable!

Christmas is like opening the batteries first on Christmas Eve.

Obviously, I need to explain.  Back when I was a child, it seemed to happen every year,  Not sure whether by design or simply a coincidence, I would always get the package with the batteries in it among my first packages – right up there with the life-saver books and the socks.

You knew something special was coming, but what it is…. You had no clue.

As I think about it – it must have been by design, for whatever the batteries went to, was the last present you opened that year.  One year that I remember, it was cassette recorder, another year, walkie-talkies, one year, it was a battery operated trainset.

But you had to wait, but the batteries were as sign of something even more awesome to come.

Christmas is like that…

It’s a glorious sign that there is more to come…

We look at we know something more is coming…

I always have a slight chuckle when I hear that Christmas is someone’s favorite holiday.  Usually because I know that when I ask why, the answers might not have anything to do with Jesus, or at best they will be what I call the “fringe benefits” of Christmas.  The gift giving, the family – all at peace for once, the decorations and bright lights.  The music, the movies,  the traditions.

Comparing that to my favorite Christian holiday seems bleak, because I like to celebrate Good Friday!  It is my favorite, it is special because even as we do it, I am reminded that my sin was nailed to that rough old cross. That my brokenness is overwhelmed by God’s desire to fix what is broken, whether it is the relationship with one of my brother or my cousins, (usually because of their breaking my Christmas presents!)

It does seem a bit odd to like the holiday where Christ was crucified more than the one celebrating His birth, until we look at Christmas happening so Christ could be crucified, and then those words we love to hear – Alleluia!  He has risen!

But what the present is, the glory that we are invited to share with Christ, that is the present, the reason for His coming, the point at which we find out how deep His love, and the Father’s love is for us.

Christmas – it’s what causes us to look forward to Good Friday and Easter, the greatest presents of all, as we find ourselves united to Christ, and sharing in His glory!  AMEN?

Christmas is like the batteries, but the present is seen at the cross, when His love for us is made manifest.


We beheld His glory… not at His birth, but at His death and Resurrection.

In our gospel this morning, we heard of it all, we hear of the creation, of Jesus prior to birth, but then we hear this, the reason that Christmas is Christmas,

10  He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13  They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. John 1:10-13 (NLT)

John will go on to say – and we beheld His glory….the glory of God’s only begotten son, the son who came to us, that we could be His sons and daughters, the glory of the one who not only died to make that so, but is risen.

So know this – this one we worship – who is pictured here in this manger, Alleluia, He is Risen… and Alleluia He is with us. AMEN!

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