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4/25/21; 4th Sunday of Easter; Series B: Acts 4:1-12; Ps.23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18;  = Our Shepherd

    Grace, mercy, peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

    The vocation and calling of Shepherd is far from new, scripture first details how Abel “was a keeper of sheep,” Abram was a keeper of flocks, his descendants were as well.Joseph's brothers answer Pharaoh: “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were.” Moses would keep his father-in-laws sheep. Perhaps the most well-known shepherd is David, who penned the Psalm before us this morning as we celebrate: Good Shepherd Sunday. I’ll guess as much was realized with the hymns and readings we have sung and heard.

    Just as David, the well known shepherd, his Ps.23 is about and concerns the care he, and each of us receive from the Good Shepherd, Christ Himself. Visiting our less mobile this week, Ps.23 was read, a number of them joined in from memory, while it was. How often has this beloved Psalm been a part of funeral services? Such fitting, familiar, and comforting words from David, the shepherd, who speaks of his Good Shepherd. Jesus declares Himself to be exactly that in the assigned vss. from John 10. We like sheep must have a shepherd to show us, lead us, direct us, in the way. On our own, left to ourselves, will never be good!

    Ps.23 is all encompassing assuring the Christian that all of the vital and important is provided for them. Consider for a moment just how much care we, the Lord’s sheep receive. From contentment in fertile, abundant pastures, if the sheep are not lying down or content then no cud chewing is taking place, therefore, they are not settled or at ease. As fed and content sheep we also have plenty of water, according to one shepherd in the materials I read, he states: sheep are afraid of fast moving waters and will not venture a drink. What doesn’t the Good Shepherd provide for those who are under His care? Regarding this care and provision, consider the Explanation to the 1st Article of the Creed as well as the Explanation to the 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

    The Psalm also speaks to concerns spiritual the necessity of restored souls, as the faithful endure the struggles, challenges, and turmoil of this life. Who of us hasn’t had plenty of those? As we find direction and guidance toward those travels that lead to righteousness, our walking in His Word and ways. Following where He leads, not wandering off to do our own thing. In Mt, Jesus describes it in this manner: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Because of who He is, we are able to be counted righteous, we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand, as the Venite has us profess.

    In all of this care and provision by and from the Shepherd, we’ll not be bothered by what can no longer harm us. Shadows can provide a neat backdrop and extremely tall silhouettes, yet bring with them no substance, nor danger. For the Christian, death itself is lost in the truth of the Lord’s salvation and it makes no difference how deep the valley we go through might prove to be. How many of us have been through seemingly bottomless, endless valley’s? Since death has been defeated for us through the death of our Good Shepherd, not even evil itself is to incite fear in us. The prowling lion has been defanged, the serpent's head crushed. 1 John 4 tells us: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” Therefore we have no reason or need to hide.

    In Ps.56 we read: “In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” And again in Ps.118: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Paul asks in Rom.8: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Since the Lord never leaves us nor forsakes us, we can join with the Psalmist in stating: “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The rod of correction, God’s Law, is stressed to guide and instruct, even to restrain His people, His sheep, from boldly going where they have no business finding ourselves. His staff is to keep us on the straight and narrow way to eternal life with Him, to pull us from harm. Heb.12 reminds us: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

    In a few minutes we will again be blessed and rejoice as we gather at the prepared table before us. At the Lord’s table, set in the very midst of enemies who are all around us. Since we have nothing to fear, not death, not hell, not the devil, not the world. We will again partake in the Lord’s Supper, forgiveness, life, salvation, ours to celebrate until the Good Shepherd gathers all His sheep together for the eternal feast in heaven. The Lord abundantly provides all we need and as His children, would we anticipate anything less?That overflowing cup, is not one of waste or carelessness, rather it is that of bounty, as we lack nothing. Recalling vs.1: “I shall not want.”

     Dear Christian, what hasn’t the Good Shepherd provided, for your spiritual good? He laid down His life to protect yours from the hell your sin and soul deserved, paying the full penalty for those sins. Even as we confess that we justly deserved God’s temporal and eternal punishment? Praise the Lord for forgiveness and peace. The Good Shepherd took up His life again, Christ is risen, He is risen again, so that we could know an eternity with Him. Therein we can be sure that goodness and mercy will be with us in this life. As the life to come, for all the faithful, means we can rest assured that we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. An echo of Ps.27: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”

    Our departure from this life is not a disaster, nor a tragedy, since heaven, through death to this life, will then be our reality. Aren’t we but strangers here anyway? The Committal service professes these words of Ps.118: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord……Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.” Let us always be found heeding and following the voice of the Good Shepherd as He leads us through this life, as He leads us into the life that awaits all the faithful, Amen.

    The peace of God, that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

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4/18/21; 3rd Sunday of Easter; Series B: Acts 3:11-21; Ps.4; 1 John 3:1-7; 

Luke 24:36-49;   = Our Opened Minds

   Grace, mercy, peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

    What did you have in mind? Speak your mind, if you don’t mind. Have an open mind…a mind is a terrible thing to waste. We value and cherish the use and ability of our minds, don’t we? Education is stressed, promoted, encouraged. In contrast, we dread, don’t we, the possible diminished capacities of our mind, be it dementia or Alzheimer’s. My grandfather had lived in the same home for decades, he was found wandering around in his own back yard, he had absolutely no idea where he was. So it is, those with a few years behind them are encouraged to take up mind stimulating activities and exercises to keep their upstairs working. A presenter at yesterday’s LWML Retreat, spoke of how reducing stress is a way to minimize mind deteriorating diseases.

     One’s mental prowess or lack thereof however, does not detract, nor enhance for them, what can only ever be granted to any of us by and through the working of the Spirit. Nothing about us, not of us, not from us, can come to terms with, understand, or comprehend, what our gracious God and Lord has preserved in His Word, accomplished through His Son. Which is why we certainly rejoice in the gift and blessing of the Holy Spirit! Perhaps you know someone who can quote scripture forward and backward, upside down, inside out, and maybe even in their sleep, yet do not have faith in the Truth, or the very Savior the scriptures reveal. Good Friday through Easter was a trying and fearful time for the Lord’s faithful. We do well to try and capture and contemplate what they endured.

    Earlier in chap.24, of Luke’s Gospel, he had detailed the account of the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus, where they encounter, and converse with, the risen Jesus. The 2 will be found running back to Jerusalem so they can report to the 11, that very encounter, with the living Savior. As the resurrected Jesus suddenly stands among them, as He speaks peace over them. Jesus speaks a lot of “peace” to His disciples, this same nail scarred Jesus, speaks peace to us since we too often struggle with our faith and, as we battle the world around us. Jesus and only Jesus, brings the peace which the world can never give! The peace that passes all understanding. Jesus, secured peace with the Father, for us, for all, who will believe.

    After Jesus demonstrates His resurrected body is precisely and exactly that, not some illusion, not some specter or ghost. Perhaps you recall the scene from ghost busters where the green blob is pouring plates full of food down his throat, only to see it end up back on the table from where it came. As is always the case, Jesus is the real deal, He is the crucified and resurrected one, the Savior. He is and remains the core of who and what we are as Christians. He alone is the absolute center, salvations ground zero if you will. Jesus remains the Chief Cornerstone, the foundation of and for our faith, of and for the Church’s faith. Jesus’ death and resurrection are what give proper meaning to the scriptures. The perfect lens through which one reads, studies, and hears the scriptures!

    Earlier in Luke 24 we hear the angel at the empty tomb telling the women: “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” A few vss. later Jesus, conversing with the Emmaus disciples: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” In today's text Jesus states, “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.” He who is the Word made flesh, He who took on our flesh in order to dwell among us, to die for us, so that He could and did rise again, to secure ours. These, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, are His words to them, His words to and for us! The record of scripture is that of the Son of God, who took on all of your sin, my sin, yes, even the sin of the world. Yet, apart from faith, apart from the Spirit at work, those are simply words, as they were, at least for the moment, to the disciples. Air merely moving past vocal cords to exit one’s lips!

    “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Dear Christian, it matters not how many letters come before or after your name. Or how many certificates hang on the wall or are displayed on a shelf. All that truly matters, is who hung on the cross, suffered, bled, died, and rose again for you. We are not expected nor commanded to have full comprehension, only such a child-like faith trusting every last syllable which comes to us from the Savior. The Spirit at work in our lives, in our very souls. Rom.10 provides this: “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Faith has been preached into your ear yes, into your souls. The proclaimed word from “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” making known to all of us what must be fulfilled, what has been fulfilled in its entirety. Completed by the Author and Perfecter of our faith, by Jesus, the firstborn from the dead. Because He lives, we too will live, it is our hope and confidence, after all, it is our Lord’s promise to the faithful.

     We care for and honor the dead as we do, since it is, in hope, they sleep in their tomb until the last day. Our care for one another’s spiritual health is due to our living in hope, looking for the day of our resurrected Lord’s return, when every Christian’s tomb will be found empty! Confidently and with conviction we can declare these words from the final portion of the Explanation to the 3rd Article of the Creed: “On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true”, Amen? Amen. Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia!    

    The peace of God, that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, Amen. 

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4/11/21; 2nd Sunday of Easter; Series B: Acts 4:32-35; Ps.148; 1 John 1:1-2:2

John 20:19-31;  = Jesus’ Sensory Witnesses

    Grace, mercy, peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

    Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia! As we rejoice in, as we continuously celebrate the empty of Jesus’ tomb and the victory He secured for us. It seems like there is little that attracts as much attention, gains so much notice, perks up one’s ears, quite like gossip. Gossip, rumor, and even hearsay are similar to an intricate soup recipe, a dash of….a pinch of….an embellishment here, and a quarter cup of: “you know what I heard”?Stir it all around, on low heat of course, since the extended cook time allows ample opportunity for the mixture to be livened up. Since something new might come along! The intriguing part as it pertains to rumor, gossip, and hearsay, is it generally makes us feel better about ourselves. Unless of course, it’s about us.

    Admittedly and unfortunately, I too have taken up, even furthered, those things that ought not have come from my mouth. Saying what we should not always comes at the expense of another, doesn’t it? As the verbally shredded are now left to pick up the pieces, no matter the validity, or lack of it, concerning what has been said about them. The 8th Commandment proves way too easy to violate, so many have fallen victim to as much? So it is, we rejoice in the forgiveness we know and have between each other and with our Lord. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As we confessed, just minutes ago: “God be merciful to me, the sinner.”

    Now, if what the Lord has declared in and through His Word, would be as quickly and readily found on our lips. Our being ready to profess to any and all we come in contact with. For the things of God to be found as contagious, intriguing, attention grabbing, as that which would be best for us to ignore, to let it go in one ear and out the other….. There are many things vying for our attention, yet only what comes to us from above holds divine weight, authority, withstands any and all scrutiny. It is to get passed along, it is to be spread to others, as God’s words are for building up, for encouragement and especially for salvation and forgiveness. Only the Lord has the words of eternal life!

    The words of John’s 1st Epistle are as profound and incredible, as are the initial words of John’s Gospel. Hear again the 1st few verses of this mornings Epistle: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

    John’s elaborate and apt description, provided in these initial verses are designed to grab, to hold the hearer’s attention, I know they have mine. And while we are quite familiar with reading the word, its intention, force, and purpose, has always been that of a verbal word, a spoken, heard, shared word. Connected with those words from John’s Epistle consider this from Rom.10: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Thus we find God’s Word and work is in direct opposition to, and in perfect conflict with: rumor, gossip, and hearsay.

    God’s eternal, inerrant word, the absolute truth, the 66 books, what we know as the Bible, have been preserved in and through its proclamation as it furnishes us with the detailed facts through those who were part of it. Peter in his 2nd Epistle declares: “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” So it is, the Lord by and through His Spirit, provided, sustained, and equipped, those who served as His “sensory” witnesses, who heard, seen, observed, touched, laid hands on. He who is the Word of Life, He who was sent forth by His Father: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

    The whole of scripture, the witnesses who heard, seen, observed and handled, is that of God’s Son. He who was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again on the 3rd day: Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia! This one, this one and only Savior, is who the witnesses speak of and declare to the world. It is the same exact Jesus who is declared to us week in and week out. The same Savior we profess to others! Everywhere the Gospel is preached, the saving truth of Jesus is made known, salvation announced to all who will hear. No fabrications, no hallucinations, no embellishments, such things are for those who presume to possess the truth, yet have anything but. Paul states in 1 Cor.1: “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 

    At the end of the day, all that matters, ALL THAT MATTERS, is what Christ has accomplished for us, for our salvation. It was verified, it continues to be verified, the message and testimony of those who were there, for every last bit of it. So it goes out to a world that desperately needs to know, to be made aware of all that transpired on and for their behalf. Who told you about Jesus? Who invited you to join them for worship? The salvation of souls depends on the truth and reality of: Christ crucified and risen again! The truth of all that took place some 2000 years ago continues on today just as it did a week after it had taken place, the reality of Christ’s death for sin and His resurrection on the 3rd day, is the truth to make known until the Lord’s return on the last day. Who will you tell about what Christ has accomplished on their behalf? Remember, Jesus is not our opinion, not speculation, not presumption. He and His word are the truth that will endure into eternity. As Jesus makes clear: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” In John 17 Jesus prays for His disciples then and for us, His disciples today, for the Father to: “Sanctify them [us] in the truth; your word is truth.” Let us always be found secure on He who is the Rock of our Salvation, the Refuge and Fortress, the Beginning and End. He who never changes, His name is Jesus, Amen.

    The peace of God, that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our risen and reigning Savior, Amen.

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4/4/21; Easter Sonrise service; Series B: Exodus 15:1-11; Ps.118:15-29; 1 Cor.5:6b-8; John 20:1-18;  = Concern for the Dead

    Grace, mercy, peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

    Mary, certainly exhibits incredible devotion and concern for and toward the dead, doesn’t she? However, one must really consider, perhaps even wonder, why this hurry and intensity from Mary, why this need for her to exhibit as much since after all, what difference would the time of day, or her actions, have meant to the dead one laying in the tomb? Not that we can’t sympathize with Mary, who of us doesn’t understand or realize how the death of a loved one is as painful as it is trying?

    Death, it messes with our emotions, it messes with our world, it is as if death were an alien thing, an intrusion into our lives and it is, death was never to be a part of our world! Sin, as we know, changed that. Mary, the 11 disciples, along with so many of Jesus’ other followers, had known, witnessed, and were aware, of the incredible tragedy that had taken place on [Good] Friday - their Jesus was crucified, died, and had been buried, a stone rolled in place. The Roman Centurion had made sure Jesus was dead, when he ran his spear into Jesus' side. Where, from Jesus’ side, we’re provided the birth of the Lord’s Church - water and blood, Baptism and the blood of the Supper, pouring forth from the Church’s Savior and Lord. Adam’s bride, was taken from his side, the Lord’s Bride, also comes from the side of this, the 2nd Adam! 

     To secure, or would that be, to accommodate the fears and suspicions of the Chief Priests and rulers of the people, a detail of soldiers is dispatched, assigned to secure the tomb of a “dead” Jesus as oh, I don’t know, what could possibly cause any difficulty?Guard the tomb of a dead guy: this was going to be the easiest watch they’d ever be involved with……have you heard of that guy named: murphy? You know, if it can go wrong, it will! Well, dear Christian, there has certainly been a lot of [seemingly] “wrong” taking place over the course of the last couple of days, hasn’t there? Only to discover this morning that the “wrong” just keeps on going; becoming even more puzzling for all who are involved, no matter what you thought about or believed concerning that Jesus guy.

    Apart from faith in the one who has all things in His care, the ways and work of the Lord, will not readily compute with sin affected brains, it’ll not match with our thought processes. [which is likely a good thing] Perhaps the wonder, or could it be: the struggle for us, who live 2000 years, this side of the empty tomb, is to presume that, if it had been us, we would have just kicked back acting like we had it all figured out. Or maybe, just maybe, that is some of our struggle still today. We don’t always have this death/resurrection event squared away, even as we try to tuck it away nicely into its own little area, compartmentalized for easy access when we might be required to consider this or that, of our Lord’s Word or ways. To take in the happenings [the incredible meaning] of these last 3 days can be challenging, consider what it would have been for them who lived through it? 

    However, let us never lose sight of the excitement, wonder, awe, mystery, and meaning of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection, to do as much might prove to be a sign of early on-set apathy. Dear Christian, how many have been your contemplations concerning the events of these last 3 days? As we realize full well, all that has taken place affects one’s eternity and their spiritual well-being! Jesus has never been, and never will ever be about just saying and doing, to be merely saying and doing. The Lord says, does, and accomplishes, so that we can be secure in our faith, knowing He has taken care of all that was required, necessary, even mandated by the Father to save us, from the hell sin deserved, the place we were headed. Rest assured dear Christian, Jesus’ empty tomb is the verifier and evidence that, all is wellregarding the provision for your spiritual well-being and mine. Since Christ completed all that was required and necessary for our salvation, we trust in and profess as much. 

    Mary arrived at the tomb that first Easter morning knowing the “facts” of the what and where. Or so she thought, we on the other hand, truly know and believe that what she saw and found that day is the Christian’s reality, now and forever. The tomb of Jesus is empty, it is and will always remain empty. The Savior lives, so we need not fear death as we trust Him with and for our life, especially eternal life. Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia, Amen.

    The peace of God, that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and risen Savior, Amen.

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4/4/21; Easter Festival Service; Series B; Is.25:6-9; Ps.16; 1 Cor.15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8;

= The Verified Living

    Grace, mercy, peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

    Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia! How much time has been spent seriously contemplating what a greeting such as that holds for you personally? Does stating the risen Christ, stir an emphasis, promote the reality of what you are convinced of and know to be true? Even bigger, does Christ’s death and resurrection define you? If the death and resurrection of God’s only Son is nothing more than a springtime seasonal greeting, as if it is nothing more than a temporary decoration in a store; what comfort can truly be derived from something as fleeting as it is, ever changing? I trust that it was with gusto and conviction, with confidence, you declared today and always, to each other and to the world. And yes, even against the evil one that: Christ is a risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia.

    Jesus, the Christ, is and will remain the living Savior, He is the reigning and triumphant Lord, He alone conquered death and overcame the grave, as if anyone else could! He, and He alone was able to defeat the evil one, only He, the sinless Son of God, could accomplish as much, for us. Thus, the forces of darkness and of death, are no longer a threat to anyone who believes, trusts in, what Jesus, the Christ, has accomplished, for them; in and through His death and resurrection. Only Jesus, could conquer the one who had and continues to consume mankind, ever since Adam consciously rebelled against his Creator. Jesus’ resurrection is and will ever remain the foundation of the Gospel, of our faith! Since only Jesus could complete the task the Father had for Him, He alone could effect and bring about our salvation. The old Laurel and Hardy routine lamented: “this is another fine mess you’ve gotten us in to”. Sin and death would actually be comical, if they were not so deadly, accurately, and seriously true!

    Here we are, April 4th, 2021, privileged to once again celebrate the living Lord. I trust it is not simply routine, habit, family obligation, or you required something to do on Easter Sunday? Perhaps the most profound answer of all will be found in how seriously one views sin, forgiveness, and eternal life? Dear Christian, the last 3 days are and will always remain the focal point, the fulcrum, of our rescue, what secures us from eternal death, as well as what defines the Church. The whole of who and what the Christian is, what the Christian will always be about, has its meaning in the 3 day long event, which began on Good Friday and culminates this morning, Easter morning. 

    If, or when, one fails to see their eternal salvation through the lens of Christ’s death and resurrection, they will not understand what Christ has provided, and still provides for them. To simply see some guy named Jesus, sacrificed, hung on a cross, in order to die a horrific death, 2000 years ago. As nothing more than that, fails to comprehend what the holy Son of God took on in your and my place. Faith allows us, permits us, to connect the dots, to complete the puzzle, it was FOR YOU, Jesus suffered and died, for you He conquered death! He did as much to accomplish what none of us could for ourselves, or anyone else.

    You see, there has to be a purpose and completion. I don’t know about you but, I have never wandered around the cemetery with the hopes or intentions of finding a living individual. Neither have I ever seen someone crawling out of their grave, asking for someone to lend a hand to help them out of their coffin. Yet, today, we gather to celebrate and rejoice in the one who did emerge from His grave. And His doing so, means He triumphed over the evil one, over the spiritual death that was a part of your life and mine.

    While we live in a world of fake news and all sorts of fabrications, from a variety of sources. Ours is that of having, desiring and knowing, holding fast to the truth! Our cemetery holds and preserves the bodies of over 760 individuals. Any and all cemeteries contain the remains of those who have lived and died. In other words death is certainly nothing new! Which doesn't make it any more desirable. Especially so as one considers the finality, the seriousness, of eternal death! Paul declares to us in 1 Cor. 15, that what he provides and preaches, was not in vain, it was not of no use. Of 1st importance: Christ died for our sins, yours and mine, precisely as it was made known in and through the scriptures. Good Friday considers the deadness of Jesus. Who was not partially dead, Jesus wasn’t mostly dead, Jesus was dead, dead!  Jesus, as it is recorded in John 19: “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” “when Pilate learned from the centurion that Jesus was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.” 

    To fulfill and complete our salvation, a perfect sacrifice was required. Death, shed blood, is and has always been a part of sacrifice. It would not and could not, be any different with Jesus, He who is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. However, dead Savior's are NOT Savior’s so, as verified by Peter, the 12, then 500 brothers, Jesus did not remain dead, not some rotting corpse. What would that accomplish, how many rotting corpses have there been since sin brought death? Rather, Jesus is a verified, living individual.

    Jesus suffered, died, was buried, exactly as scripture, and the Father’s will had prescribed for Him. In order that He could, and as we celebrate and rejoice in this morning, rise again to new life! Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia! There is not a whole lot to celebrate and rejoice in concerning death….unless of course we, and they, know the one who is and has secured life. The evidence and facts are real and legitimate, the one who had been dead, is now very much alive. All, so that we, and those who died in faith before us, can, do, and will, know a life that is truly out of this world, since eternal life is not of this world!

    Christ died to defeat death and as the Prophet Isaiah declared: “He will swallow up death forever;” Only He who is greater than death, can swallow up death. Only the death swallower, the victory winner, could complete and finish all that was required to bring eternal life to all who will believe, to you, to me, today and always, Amen.

    The peace of God, that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our risen and living Savior, Amen.


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