Spring this year has been more Wintery than Springy; however, the winter wheat, having sprouted last fall and rested all winter, should be into it s growth spurt heading for an end of June harvest. I suppose I should scoot over across the river into Illinois to check this out, but it was when we lived outside Collinsville and were surrounded by fields of wheat, corn and soybeans.
A least some of the wheat will be ground and baked into bread. Thus at least in an indirect way, we who live surrounded by concrete and asphalt, can find a connection to the soil from which we were created, humus humans. But our daily bread also connects us to Christ, who said, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” Christ also said, “(Humus humanity) shall not live by bread alone. The Subway sandwich I eat for lunch not only can remind me of Christ, but make me hunger for the bread of life which I and many others will eat this coming Sunday morning. Echoing the words of Jesus, the pastor/priest will direct and remind us, “Take eat this is the body of Christ given for you for the forgiveness of sins.” With that bread I can, go in peace and serve the Lord having ingested the fullness of Christ.
When I read that on the evening of the first Easter the disciples were huddling behind locked doors out of fear, I think of my I fears. I believe that pre-event receptions where everyone stands around and makes small talk was invented by a sadistic extrovert. As an introvert I’m no good at small talk and therefore avoid such occasions. I feared having a third heart by-pass surgery in 1998, I suspect because my body still remembered the one from five years before and the insertion of four stents in between. But when I was unable to even walk to the mail box, I called and said, “Let’s do it.”
It would be nice to think that our fears are easily overcome, but that’s not the case. That first Easter evening the disciples were behind locked doors out of fear that they tool would be arrested and dragged off to the cross. Suddenly Jesus stood among them saying, “Peace be with you. “When we have the peace of God which passes all understanding keeping our hearts and minds in Christ,” as we often hear at the end of a sermon, shouldn’t that allay all our fears?
However, a week later when Jesus made another appearance to his disciples, they were still behind locked doors. Jesus had to come through the door with his second announcement of peace. Our fears are not easily overcome. The wonder is that Christ is able and does come through our locked doors. He stays with us despite who we are and how our fears might hinder us. Through the Holy Spirit Christ uses us to be his witnesses and to continue as his workmanship to be his servant for good.
We opened our service this Easter 2 morning singing,” Now all the vault of heav’n resounds.” I know the vault of heaven is the abode of the angels from which they sang at Jesus’ birth and in celebration of Jesus taking his place at God’s right hand. But I like to think that the vault forms a chamber, like the nave of the church and that our singing, “Christ has triumphed! He is living!” bounces off the vault and fills our ears and the universe with resounding sound. How can we do anything but sing with gusto? That alone is enough reason to go to church.
We were sent on our way at the end of service with the announcement, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! And our response, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” Notice the exclamation marks. And then we sang, Herbert Brokering’s hymn, Alleluia! Jesus is Risen! More exclamation marks. The resurrection of Jesus gives us the following hope –
- 5, City of God, Easter forever,
Golden Jerusalem, Jesus, the Lamb.
River of life. Saints and archangels.
Sing with creation to God the I AM!
Jesus is risen and we shall arise:
Give God the glory! Alleluia!
Sing with gusto and punctuate with exclamation marks!
Hallelu Yah! Halleluiah Yahweh! So begins Psalm 148 in the Hebrew. What a fitting psalm with which to continue to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection. As John writes, “All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made.”
Thus, from the heaven of the heavens and the messengers of God to the shining stars and the sun and moon, rulers of day and night, all are called to halleluiah the Lord. Let halleluiah emanate from the earth; sea monsters and the deeps over which the Spirit hovered in the beginning. Fire, hail, snow, smoke and windstorms are commanded to Halleluiah. Mountains, hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild beasts and domesticated cattle, crawling things and winged birds join the Halleluiah chorus. Finally, the powerful of the earth, kings, princes, leaders and all nations are commanded to join their voices of praise along with young men and young women, senior citizens, let them all halleluiah to the Lord exalting His name. Hallelu Yah!
Jesus did not only die for you and me, but for the whole creation, which, according to Paul in Romans 8:22, is groaning like a woman in the travails of childbirth waiting for the children of God to be revealed and the new creation come to the fullness of its redemption.
For our salvation and the redemption of creation we add our Halleluiah, Praise the Lord.
I came across a new writing of Martin Luther yesterday. Well, not new, since he hasn’t written much in the last 500 years, but new to me. It’s “On the fruit and power of the resurrection of Christ.”
In the Gospel of John Christ tells Mary Magdalene of the benefit and use of his death and resurrection still more plainly, when he says: “But go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.” Jn 20,17. This is one of the great and comforting passages upon which we can venture, and of which we dare boast. As if Christ had said: Go hence, Mary, and say to my disciples who have deserted me on the field of battle, and who have well merited punishment and eternal condemnation, that my resurrection has taken place for their benefit; that is, by my resurrection I have brought it to pass that my Father is their Father, and my God is their God. These are few words and very short; but they contain a great thought, namely, that we have as great a confidence and refuge in God as Christ his Son himself has.
A reading for Easter Tuesday is Daniel 3:8-28, The three men Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. The story reminds me of Robert Service’s poem The Cremation of Sam McGee. Sam, from Tennessee, joined the Alaskan the goldrush, but froze to death along the trail. His partner honored his last request to be cremated and not left in the frozen state,
“And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”
The connection between the three men and Sam McGee ends in my mind. But how are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego connected to Jesus’ resurrection? I think it has to do with loyalty to God and a willingness to through a horrible death rather than abandon God. There is an angel present in each account. The angel keeps the three men safe so they come through the ordeal unsinged. The angel at Jesus’ resurrection from death announces his resurrection to some amazed women when they come to the tomb. Nebuchadnezzar was also astonished when he looked in the furnace and blessed the God of the three Jews who were willing to offer up their bodies rather than serve anyone but their own God. So, it was with the Jew from Nazareth named Jesus. The three men may have come out unsinged, but Jesus did not. He was scarred. He bore his ordeal and carried his scars for the life, salvation and forgiveness of sins for all, even Nebuchadnezzar and Sam McGee from Tennessee
It’s Easter Monday and feels closer to winter than an Easter Lily Spring Day. A good day to just be an old lump. However, St. Paul won’t let me get away with that. In I Cor. 5:6b-8 he says “Don’t be an old lump.”
Leaven (yeast) was a metaphor for my old self, my old lumpy self. I can’t get away with being an old lump anymore, letting sin rise so that my old self governs my life. Christ has cleaned out the old lumpy self. He accomplished this through his sacrifice as the one and done Passover lamb.
As far as God is concerned, I am free of the yeast of sin which tries to expand into my whole life. I am a new lump as pure as the light of the sun. (My old self wants to grumble, “Yeah if I ever see it again.” Knock it off, don’t be an old lump.) Therefore, Paul calls me to live a life of festival. In the context of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, every day is a day to sing: “Hail thee, festival day! Blest day to be hallowed forever.”
With that festival thought in mind this new lump goes off to walk at the Sunset Hills Community Center.