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COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God,by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ,  You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light.Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory;through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,one God, now and forever.

READINGS

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Psalm 61

 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

 St. John 21:1-14

Reflection on the Gospel LessonJohn 21: 1-14. In this Gospel reading, the risen Lord asked Peter 3 times, Do you love me more than these? 3 times the Lord said, “Feed My sheep”. Feed them in the pastures of His Word. The number 3 was quite significant to Peter as Peter denied Jesus three times. Then after the Lord’s Ascension Peter does not want to go to the Gentile Centurion, Cornelius’ home because Peter would eat unclean animals.  3 times a sheet is lowered with unclean and clean animals, the Lord telling him to eat. The name Peter means “Rock”.  It takes time for many of us “to get it through our thick heads”!  But Peter did not seem to have a hard heart. After Jesus walked on the water, Peter almost commanded the Lord and the Lord invited  him: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14)  Then we he saw the waves and the wind, the storm  and Peter began to sink.  When he saw the storm around the fire as Jesus was being taken to trial, likewise he sank.  A good heart is not enough.  Pr. Johann Gerhard made a crucial distinction regarding Peter for our edification:

 “We should also contemplate how Peter came to such a fall (i.e. his denial), in order that we avoid the same. He was entirely too daring (presumptuous)–meaning that it all depended upon a good heart and good intentions. When he noticed others who were not like him in this matter, he held them in disdain. Thus he experienced how very little we are capable of if God does not sustain us. Therefore we should indeed not rely on the strength of our own faith, or on our good intentions. God’s power does it, and it alone must do everything.

I think Peter was the first evangelical-born-again ”I made my decision” Protestant pietist. I would love a congregation of those kind of Peters, but I know I am more like Peter when he saw the waves and the Rock sank.  He was a good guy, but even our goodness, apart from God, also needs Christ’s redemption, His Body and Blood, His forgiveness every step of the Way. It is my good heart and good intentions that can wreak the greatest damage in congregations, families and nations.  A  good person will boast, I live for others.  C. S.Lewis said, you tell who that person is by the hunted expressions for those round about. Again, see Simon Peter and look to Jesus Christ. Don’t look to  your life for salvation, because the Law points out to us and our hearts and souls our sin.  Peter found that out after he denied Jesus three times, the arrested Jesus simply looked at Peter. Peter wept bitterly.  Peter finally knew his good heart was not enough, his decisions for Jesus did not bridge the gap between himself and the Lord, only the Lord’s hand, His Word did save him…again and again and again!  He is risen!

Back in Luke 5 and the miraculous catch of fish, when the boat begins to sink because of the haul of fish, Peter jumps into water and falls before the Lord, “Depart from me O Lord for I am a sinful man.” First note, that Jesus did not answer Peter’s prayer in the affirmative!  Peter would discover the depths of his sin and the greater depths of the forgiveness and mercy Jesus is, the heart of His Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.  After the resurrection, Peter would forget this as recorded in the New Testament but the Lord brought Him back to Himself in true repentance.  And in this scene from John 21, Peter once more throws himself into the depths, impetuously, impulsively, because he loved the Lord, for by His love  Peter, you, me and everyone we meet has been redeemed.  Now may His Word open their hearts to their Redeemer and  by faith be saved knowing the depths of His truth and grace for sinners and also for me and for thee as well day by day.  We pray…

O Lord Jesus Christ, look upon me, a poor sinner, with Your eyes of mercy, the same eyes of mercy with which You looked upon Peter in the assembly-room, upon Mary Magdalene at the banquet, and upon the malefactor on the cross. Grant to me also,OvYou, almighty God, that with Peter I bemoan my sin from the heart, with Mary Magdalene sincerely love You, and with the malefactor on the cross may live eternally with You in Your kingdom. Amen. (Johann Gerhard)

COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God,through the resurrection of Your Son You have secured peace for our troubled consciences. Grant us this peace evermore that trusting in the merit of Your Son we may come at last to the perfect peace of heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

READINGS

Daniel 3:8-28

Psalm 2

Acts 13:26-33

St. Luke 24:36-49, with comments

44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.

Rev. Pastor Johann Gerhard:  

Whoever preaches forgiveness of sins without preaching repentance is not holding to Christ’s  command. For He sets both together: repentance and forgiveness of sins. Wherever there is a broken and shattered heart, there Christ wants to live, Isa. 57:15, and wants to impart His blessings which He won through His death and resurrection. He, indeed, calls sinners to Himself, but (He calls them) to repent, Matt. 9:13. True repentance is the pathway by which sinners come to grace.

We were widely separated from God by sin, Isa.5. Just as the Lord Christ promised His Apostles the Promise of the Father—that is, He wanted to send them the Holy Spirit and clothe them with Power from on high—so also He proffers to us the comforting promise that He does not want to leave us orphaned or comfortless; instead, He desires to send into our hearts the Holy Spirit, who makes us strong in the inner man and comforts us in every anxious doubt.

Comment:  The pattern of Christ’s death and resurrection is the pattern of the apostolic message He gives to “all nations” for His Church to proclaim:  “repentance and forgiveness of sins”.  I hear too often in the media about the Church about “what the Church says” and it is usually on morality.  Morality is Biblical but so is the disciples not acting morally courageous:  me, too.   As the Lord said that “the Law of Moses” is also “written about me”.  The 5 books of Moses also contains  the Gospel, that is, the Lord who frees His people out of the house of bondage, not by their will, but according to the Lord’s Word.  St. Luke alone tells us that in the Transfiguration Jesus and Moses and Elijah discuss His “departure” (Luke 9:31).  “Departure” is the translation of the Greek, exodun, exodus! “The law and prophets” point to Him as He fulfilled perfectly the Law and the Prophets(Matthew 5:17) so that as all of the Scripture points to Him (John 5:39The Law not only and merely contains our carnal instincts but the Law is spiritual as it shows us our sin and the Gospel proclaims our Savior that we can turn toward Him daily. This is daily living in Baptism.   Luther:  

“(Baptism) signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

We can so die and rise because He has baptized us into Himself in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The key to understanding the Scriptures is the unilateral grace of God to the disciples, to us, to the whole world.

Beloved in the Lord, we see here yet another revelation of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Father sends the Son and the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit so that beginning in Jerusalem, the Word of so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:2-4) is preached into which we are baptized. The Holy Trinity is the one God, if you will a “conspiracy”:  literally con, with, “spirare” to breathe, (same root word for breath or  for spirit), literally” to breath together,  breathing as one the Word of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father into a sin-soaked, dark world.  

“O Holy Trinity, You Self-sufficient Love, ignite also in our heart this fire of Your Love!”

“Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in tombs bestowing life.”-Orthodox Paschal Hymn

Introduction: The Eastern Orthodox Churches have a great custom by calling the first week of the Paschal (Easter) Season “Bright Week”.  A great way to begin the 50 Days of Pascha leading to Pentecost, as we look at what our risen Lord taught His Church for her life and mission into the world.   Easter, like Christmas, is not only a day each, but  a season each.

Further, as Lent is time of preparation for seekers to be Baptized, then the Paschal Season is a time for the newly baptized, and the ‘oldly’ baptized as well, to be instructed in the Way of the Lord more fully.  St. Basil the Great wrote it well regarding Baptism in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection:

“This is what it means to be born again of water and Spirit: the water accomplishes our death, while the Spirit raises us to life. This great sign of baptism is fulfilled in three immersions, with three invocations, so that the image of death might be completely formed, and the newly baptized might have their souls enlightened with divine knowledge. If there is any grace in the water, it does not come from the nature of the water, but from the Spirit’s Presence, since baptism is not a removal of dirt from the body, but an appeal to God for a clear conscience (1 Peter 3: 21)  The Lord describes in the Gospel the pattern of life we must be trained to follow after the (baptismal) resurrection: gentleness, endurance, freedom for the defiling love of pleasure, and from covetousness. We must be determined to, acquire in this life all the qualities of the life to come. To define the Gospel as a description of what resurrectional life should be like seems to be correct and appropriate, as far as I am concerned.”  (On the Holy Spirit by St. Basil the Great; emphasis my own)

Easter Monday:

COLLECT OF THE DAY

O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

READINGS

Exodus 15:1-18

or Daniel 12:1 c-3

Psalm 100 (antiphon: v. 5) Acts 10:34-43

or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

Luke 24:13-49

VERSE:

Alleluia. Christ Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Alleluia. 2 Tim. 1:10

 Reflection:  The Baptismal and resurrectional life is engendered is by repentance and forgiveness as the Lord made plain on the road to Emmaus with His disciples who did not recognize Him.  They saw it was the  Lord in the breaking of the bread as He gives us His bread, the Word of God and Sacrament of the Altar  for our journey as His Church, His body in the world.  In His Word, the Lord Jesus gave them a heart to be taught and to burn with the fire of His life and love.  In the disciples’ despair the Lord Jesus lifted them up. His Word, Incarnate, Written, Taught and Preached  is always central, foremost in our life together for His formation of His resurrectional life in us as His baptized children.  “A child listens to his parents, from whom he was conceived and born, speaking to him with heart-felt desire and love. If you are born of God, then you will gladly listen to God the Lord speaking to you in His Word-especially regarding the resurrection of Christ, by which He has brought such precious gifts along for for us…O Holy Trinity, You Self-sufficient Love, ignite also in our heart this fire of Your Love!” ( Rev. Pastor and Professor Johann Gerhard, +1637)

Originally posted on Concordia and Koinonia:

View original

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, “Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions.” It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!
“O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?”
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.

To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.

There were words on the Cross: the Titulus, the Title, the Inscription that Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator caused to be affixed, written in three languages: Greek, Aramaic and Latin. Greek was one of the main languages of the Roman Empire since the days of Alexander the Great when he conquered the world in the 4th century BC. Aramaic was the language of Palestine and hence Jesus since Hebrew was no longer spoken, except in synagogues and in the Temple. Latin was the language of the Roman Empire. For some reason Pilate wanted everyone to know that this man’s identity: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. One of my college professors said that Pilate was the first evangelist to publish the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus is King of the Jews. Even more, in three languages, everyone’s King, as in thy kingdom come. The bloodied, suffering, bleeding king. The King who died for His subjects and the Physician who died for his patients, the Master who died for slaves as a slave, the Creator dies for His creatures, the only-begotten Son dies to make us His brothers and sisters. The Sanhedrin did not like the Titulus. They requested Pilate take it down. Pilate responded, what I have written, I have written. Ever more the Lord has written what He has inspired to be written: the Scriptures, His Word.

There were words from the cross, 7 verses:

The First Word: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” The Lord at the beginning of His public ministry taught the disciples, the nascent Church to pray, Our Father who art in heaven…and Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. He forgave His enemies. It’s that simple.

The Second Word: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” The repentant thief on his cross next to Jesus knew Jesus was innocent, without sin, and the thief, the malefactor, was guilty. Remember, me when you come into your kingdom the thief prayed to Jesus. Jesus answered his repentant prayer and all the prayers of the repentant. It’s that simple.

The Third Word: “Woman, behold your son; Son, behold your mother” The only-begotten Son of the Father, knew His mother would be bereft without her oldest son, both in death and in the Resurrection. He formed a new family between Mary and John. He calls, gathers, enlightens the whole Christian church on earth, the family of the Father in the waters of rebirth. His death and Resurrection is our baptism. He baptizes us. It’s that simple.

The Fourth Word: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He cries out in dereliction. He quotes the first verse of Psalm 22, later in the Psalm. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22 written centuries before the Lord’s birth. He suffered. The soldiers cast lots for his clothes. He fulfilled the prophets and all the Scripture. It’s that simple.

The Fifth Word: “I thirst.” He sat by a well in Samaria, thirsty after walking for a long time, and said to the Samaritan woman, give me something to drink. He thirsted for her salvation, yours as well. We are thirsty people. His Word quenches our thirst in His straightforward mercy. It’s that simple.

The Sixth Word: “It is finished.” Accomplished. Jesus had come to the end, the fulfillment. Our salvation is accomplished, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. We can bear our own iniquity. He has, pure God and pure Man, not 50%-50%, 100%-100%, all our works can not atone, Thou must save and Thou alone. He has by His grace alone as a gift. It’s that simple.

The Seventh Word: “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit” His was the commendation of His blood into the holy of holies in heaven, once and for all. In Him there is no condemnation, only commendation, not of our good deeds to save, but His good deed to save us all. By His Spirit, we are commended in life and death. It’s that simple.

Jesus Christ is the “Word made flesh”upon the Cross. He is the Word of God incarnate, nailed to the timber-trunk of the Cross. Cursed be anyone who hangs from a tree, it is written in the Old Testament. The Word of God, love’s pure light, became accursed, the curse of Adam, His blood flowing with this purpose: He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far. as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found No longer cursed, but blessed in faith clinging to Him unto eternal life. Joy to the world.

Words on the cross, His Word from the Cross, as He is the Word of God incarnate, nailed to the cross and lastly His Word from the Cross. Luther:

“If now I seek the forgiveness of sins, I do not run to the cross, for I will not find it given there.(There is no “old rugged cross”, you can’t take it to the cross. Jesus is present in His Word from, on and on account of His Cross) Nor must I hold to the suffering of Christ, as Dr. Karlstadt trifles, in knowledge or remembrance, for I will not find it there either. But I will find in the sacrament or gospel the word which distributes, presents, offers, and gives to me that forgiveness which was won on the cross”

Jesus said to the devil when tempted to turn rocks into bread, Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. His Word from the Cross, in preaching, teaching, Sacraments, praying, serving feeds us His forgiveness. He feeds us His Word within His Church. His Word from the Cross is the last Word, the Word of our salvation, once and for all, today and everyday. We rest in His every Word: the Word made flesh. WE hang on to the Lord’s every Word as He hung on the Cross so that we are his and if he is ours, we fear no powers, not of earth, nor sin, nor death, He sees and blesses in worst distresses, He can change them with a breath.

Holy Saturday

In my first parish on Long Island, NY, on my day off I was perusing the stores in East Northport.   There was a sign for an art studio sale.  The artist, Stanley Twardowicz, (Bio) was selling off his all his studio supplies, works of art etc.  I came across a series of black and white photos of which you see two.  This series of photos is entitled, “France-1952 (Christ)”.  The artist  came across one of many road-side shrines in the French country-side.  At this particular one, the workers had taken down the corpus (the representation of the body of our Lord) from the cross and inside was a bee-hive.  Those workers made a bee line away from it!  Mr. Twardowicz then took a series of photos of the corpus on the ground.

Though I have never seen one,  I like the idea of road-side shrines of our Lord’s Crucifixion.  Life in Christ is a journey.  G. K. Chesterton said of the Cross that it is the sign-post for free travelers.  I would tweak his statement and say, freed travelers.  Following Him we are freed. These photos striking and stark as stark as sin and the One Who bore our sin in His Body so that we are freed in faith to love and serve.  Our will always leads to death and damnation.  His will leads to life and salvation:  always, as He is risen! On Holy Saturday, the Great Sabbath, He took all our death and sin into Himself to the grave.  He rested and now we can both rest in Him so He works in us.  Yet, even in death, as the photo below portrays, He is the Victor.  His arm raised in victory for us.

“It was a strange and dreadful strife
When Life and Death contended;
The victory remained with Life,
The reign of Death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith
That Death is swallowed up by Death,
His sting is lost forever.
Hallelujah!”

(“Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands”
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546)

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