Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday

Matthew 27:51-54 - The Resurrection of Our Lord - April 20, 2014
Good Friday’s Easter Sunday
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 
That portion of Scripture which we consider this Easter morning the Holy Spirit caused to be recorded in the twenty-seventh chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel, starting at the fifty-fourth verse, which we read as follows in Jesus’ name: 
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.  So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
These are your words, holy Father; sanctify us in the truth; your word is truth.  Amen. 
There is no resurrection without the crucifixion.  And so there’s no such thing as celebrating Easter morning if we do not celebrate Good Friday.  Now, obviously this means that we should come to church and hear the word of God on Good Friday.  After all, what more fitting time to mediate on what our Lord Jesus has done for us than on the day when he did it?  And how else are we poor sinners supposed to learn to properly meditate on Christ’s suffering at all other than by gathering as his lambs to hear his holy word?  But more importantly than just being here and doing that on this day or another, the fact that there is no Easter apart from Good Friday means that we should believe the gospel and see the connection between these two events.  To this end, this morning on this indescribably wonderful festival of Christ’s resurrection, we consider also the death that Jesus rose from. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Matthew 27:45-46 - Good Friday Tenebrae - April 18, 2014
Reconciled to God
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 
That portion of Scripture which we consider this evening the Holy Spirit caused to be recorded in the twenty-seventh chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel, starting at the forty-fifth verse, which we read as follows in Jesus’ name: 
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
These are your words, holy Father; sanctify us in the truth; your word is truth.  Amen. 
The first thing that God created was light.  He spoke his Word and there it was: light shining in the darkness.  All things that God created were made by the Father through the Son.  He is the eternal Word of God.  Wherever the Son of God goes forth from his Father, the Father accomplishes that for which he sent him.  God sends his Son by speaking.  The Son does what the Father says.  God spoke, and there was light. 
God did not create light for his own sake.  He himself is light.  He doesn’t need what he creates.  We do.  Light, the very first thing that God created, was made for the sake of man, the very last thing that God created.  He is the crown of God’s creation and love.  Everything on earth was made for our sake.

Good Friday

John 19:26-27 - Tre Ore — Word Three - April 18, 2014
Jesus Honors His Father & Mother

Certain things can cause a man to shift around his priorities.  When I was a kid, I remember experiencing the conscious epiphany that it was time in my life to put away playing with my favorite childhood toys.  I loved them and the times I had with them.  But it was time.  It was kind of sad, when I think about it.  But we all grow up and put away old things that once made our young hearts happy.  Now, I didn’t stop playing with my toys because of some duty to grow up.  No one urged me or hinted that I should begin acting my age.  It wasn’t that at all.  Other things just became more important to me, and I knew that I wanted to pursue those things instead.  It’s like when a man leaves his mother and father to be joined to his wife.  He doesn’t need to be told.  He isn’t forced out of his parents’ home.  His desire for his bride simply renews and shifts his priorities. 
Such is life.  We go through stages, and we make several adjustments to our priorities as we go.  And such is death.  Our stages eventually end.  And when a man lies dying, a much more severe adjustment often takes place than when he came of age or got married.  Suddenly, what seemed important for decades, even those things that defined him to his friends, such as fishing or some sports team or even something nobler like a good political cause, all these are suddenly set aside like childhood toys that aren’t important anymore.  Because they’re not.  There’s no duty that tells a dying man to stop caring so much about earthly things he once loved.  Just the reality of ever after and his eternal soul’s future take sudden precedence over everything else.  It’s natural. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-15 - Maundy Thursday - April 17, 2014
May I Give Thee Love for Love
Today is Maundy Thursday.  The word Maundy comes from the Latin word for command or mandate.  Jesus commands his disciples to do for each other what he did for them.  He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).  This commandment to love is what Maundy Thursday is named after.  We are to pattern our love for each other on Jesus’ love for us.  And how does Jesus love us?  It is as he says, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). 
But on the night when he was betrayed, before these events took place, Jesus gave a picture of this love by washing his disciples’ feet. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-9 - Palm Sunday/Confirmation - April 13, 2014
Daughters of Zion
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ and especially you Aubreigh and Caragan; grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen. 
When you were baptized, God became your Father.  Of course, he was always your Father in this sense: inasmuch as he is God the Father almighty who made heaven and earth.  That means that he made you with your eternal well being in mind.  He knit you together in your mothers’ wombs and has cared for you ever since, because he loves you.  Through earthly means he has made sure that you have been fed, clothed, sheltered, disciplined, and otherwise loved by those who make it their joy to do so.  These loved-ones of yours are God’s earthly means.  Your parents, grandparents, and families take care of you because they love you.  And God takes care of you through them because he loves you even more. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lent Midweek

Matthew 27:11–26 - Lent I-V Midweek - March 12, 19, 26; April 2, 9, 2014

The King Condemned
The office is greater than the man.  This is true.  We honor the President of the United States, not because he deserves it in his own person, but because it is right to honor his office.  He is God’s instrument for good despite any and all the evil he might do besides.  Likewise, we honor our pastors even if their personal idiosyncrasies annoy us, not simply out of charity, although this alone is enough to treat them well; but we honor them because the Office of the Ministry is worthy of our respect and obedience.  Through it, God accomplishes much good.  It is the Means of Grace Office through which God saves us from our sin.  We honor our secular rulers, because we honor good order — we thus consent to the authority that God has given them.  We honor the pastor because we honor the gospel — we thus consent to the word that God speaks.  The office is greater than the man.