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Tag Archives: Easter

Alle…

Alle…

Oops. Hold on…

As you are reading this article it is still Lent. But it is April and Spring and it should be Easter!

And yes that celebration is coming. This year Easter is almost as late as it can be. The latest Easter can be is April 25.

We are in that already but not yet, we already know that Jesus will rise from the dead, or has risen. Even though now we are in the waiting of Lent.

And isn’t that really the life of the Christian, the disciple of Jesus. We are already living eternally with God through our baptism, yet we are still here stuck in our sinfulness.

Already, but not yet.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known, Paul tells the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 13:12) We are there but can’t see it all around us, and yet we are not quite there yet. We know that we are a part of the kingdom, but we can’t fully understand it yet.

Just like St. John’s here and now moving forward following the path God has put before us. Seemingly unsure about what has happened and what might happen next. But I have been there several times, where you really can’t see that next step because of the fog or the haze or your vision is unclear. And that is the time we come together and step out in faith.

So hold on, and know the promises are true, just as we know in a few days we can again say Alleluia!

Christ is Risen!

 

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Woke!

As I sit at my desk and think about what to write for the April Newsletter this Tuesday of Holy Week I remembered an email I received from Old Lutheran. Their idea or concept for this Easter is Jesus Woke. And so they sent this in an email to explain that.

“Woke means to be aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues. It is in that context that we know that Jesus is WOKE to injustice and WOKE to indifference. Not only on Easter Sunday when Mary and the others went to the tomb and discovered that he was WOKE but Jesus is WOKE to the sins of humanity. In Jesus Resurrection we are all WOKE in Christ.”

I think of Easter being April 1, April Fools day and wonder, would Jesus joke with the disciples on this most important morning. Jesus came out of the tomb and saw His shadow and said, “Sorry guys, 6 more weeks of Lent!” This is a Jesus who is woke.

Jesus was aware and attentive to the issues in the lives of the disciples and all of those around Him, then when He walked this earth and now, as He walks it with us. Jesus is aware of what is happening in all of those who trust Him lives and seeking to help them and guide them through the ups and downs of life.

I wonder if we are woke to anything other than ourselves? When things don’t go like we want them, or we don’t get our way how do we respond? Are we attentive and aware of the issues in the lives of the people we are close to? Do you know what is happening in your neighbor’s life? Or are we so wrapped up in our own issues we can’t see them?

Jesus just died when He could have stopped it, but He knew it was not about Him, even though it is all about Him. Jesus woke and was woke all of His earthly and God’s kingdom existence.

So are you Woke? Because in His Resurrection we are all Woke in Christ!

Grace,

PJ

 

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Alle… Oops…

Alle…

Oops. Hold on…

As you are reading this article it is still Lent. But it is April and Spring and it should be Easter!

And yes that celebration is coming. This year Easter is almost as late as it can be. The latest Easter can be is April 25.

We are in that already but not yet, we already know that Jesus will rise from the dead, or has risen. Even though now we are in the waiting of Holy week.

And isn’t that really the life of the Christian, the disciple of Jesus. We are already living eternally with God through our baptism, yet we are still here stuck in our sinfulness.

Already, but not yet.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known, Paul tells the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 13:12) We are there but can’t see it all around us, and yet we are not quite there yet. We know that we are a part of the kingdom, but we can’t fully understand it yet.

So hold on, and know the promises are true, just as we know in a few days we can again say Alleluia!

Christ is Risen!

 

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Alle…oops

Alle…

Oops. Hold on…

As you are reading this article it is still Lent. But it is April and Spring and it should be Easter!

And yes that celebration is coming. The end of this week we will gather to celebrate Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and then finally Easter! The resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

We are in that already but not yet, we already know that Jesus will rise from the dead, or has risen. Even though now we are in the waiting of Holy week.

And isn’t that really the life of the Christian, the disciple of Jesus. We are already living eternally with God through our baptism, yet we are still here stuck in our sinfulness.

Already, but not yet.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known, Paul tells the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 13:12) We are there but can’t see it all around us, and yet we are not quite there yet. We know that we are a part of the kingdom, but we can’t fully understand it yet.

So hold on, and know the promises are true, just as we know in a few days we can again say Alleluia!

Christ is Risen!

 
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Posted by on 2015/04/01 in Newsletter Article

 

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Do not be afraid!

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’ (Matthew 28:1-10, NRSV)

Do not be afraid! Right!

I came to this place expecting to find the body of Jesus and instead there is an angel, telling me He has risen and is going ahead to meet the disciples in Galilee… And I’m not suppose to run away afraid!

Well the good news is it is all true! Everything Jesus told us, is true and the promises of God are coming to fruition.

And the interesting thing here is that women are the ones who witness Jesus’ rising! You see God is bringing the things that the world looks down upon and raising them to a new level!

Shepherds at His birth. Tax collectors, fisherman, and those the world would not trust as disciples. And here at His resurrection women are the first to see!

God uses the weak and the lowly to be the strong and the highly exalted to be the first! For when the world makes you last, in God’s kingdom you will be first.

Jesus died and rose for all! And thanks be to God that He loved me enough to die and rise so that I might be with Him!

 

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It’s Pentecost!

And see here for an explanation of where this video came from and another wonderful video from Peter Rollins!

 

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Spiritual fruit ≠ Religious nuts

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.(Galatians 5:16-25, ESV)

I have heard it before that God wants us to be spiritual fruits, not religious nuts. We need to be set on fire by the Spirit, not bound by the laws of a religious system. You see when Jesus was here He turned the religious system on it’s head and we now say that it was done once and it will not happen again. Does that mean that God is not going to do something that we do not expect? I hardly believe that.

God is calling for us to be set on fire by the Holy Spirit to be blown where she will send us.The Spirit is a consuming fire that will set our lives on fire and send us out to fill the world with love!

That is what I love about the picture above. All of the fruits are written on

 

hearts! You see, I have heard it said that there is one fruit of the Spirit and that is love, and all of the others are descriptions of the love that we have in the consuming fire of the Spirit! I am not saying that this is true, but in some ways it makes sense. Love is the thing that draws us to God, Love is the thing that fills us, love is the thing that changes us, and all of the other “fruits” are very good descriptions of how one is if they are on fire with the love of God.

So allow the unstoppable, consuming, passionate, bright, pure, hot, wild Holy Spirit fill you and lead you to where God has called you!

 

 

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Why can’t we?

Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. (Acts 9:32-35, ESV)

Do you read passages like this and wonder why they don’t happen today?

Do you ever read passages like this and wonder why can’t I do that?

We want the powers it seems the disciples of Jesus had. It is almost like they had something special because they were touched by Him…

But didn’t Jesus say to them (and us) that “we would do greater things than He did”?

The problem is in our inward thoughts…

Why do you want to be able to do the things you read about? Is it selfish or selfless?

Paul healed everyone because Jesus came to heal everyone. They did not withhold from anyone the power the disciples yielded was Jesus’ power and that is why it worked. If we are giving ourselves away selflessly than the things that happened then will happen now, and they do.

We maybe doing things we do not even see, but our job is not to want to do the miracles  our job is to follow Jesus and do what He needs us to do.

You can! And Jesus will through you, just follow Him!

 

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Doubt vs. Faith?

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:22-30 NRSV)

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. It is the 4th Sunday of Easter and we read (those who follow the Revised Common Lectionary) Psalm 23 and a Gospel lesson from John 10 every year.

I was struck this week with the opening verse for Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

As I read this I wondered if I truly was a sheep of Jesus’ fold. Because I will be the first to admit I Want! I wrote a post on it a few days ago, which you can see here. I want health, wealth happiness, you name it I probably want it. We all want things, if we are honest with ourselves. And if we are really honest deep down in those dark places of our lives we want to know that our faith will pay off in the end. That all of the promises that God has made are really and we can truly count on Him to get us through. We want to know this.

Which brings us to our gospel lesson for the day. You see Jesus’ people wanted to know plainly if He was the Messiah, the Christ, or not. They were questioning Him, in the Portico of Solomon, the place a king would give judgments of justice. They wanted to know. The idiom used here in John in the original Greek today means, “How long will you continue to annoy us?” They were questioning Jesus and I bet He was getting tired of it.

Have you ever been asked questions by someone and been annoyed by it? We all ask questions, and it is good to question. We have setup in our congregations and worship places and communities of worship that faith and doubt or questions do not live well together. We want to think a person of faith would not doubt and that questions are bad. But the people in today’s reading who are questioning Jesus are asking Him to verify His power, that He is actually God. And don’t we all want verifiable proof of this? We all want to know the promises are real!

I’ll be the first to tell you that doubt if not the opposite of faith! I have had many doubts and have gone to many dark places in the past years as I wait on God. I have no fear that God is with me and walks and prepares a place for me. He is always with me and will always be with me, but I doubt my abilities as a husband, as a father, as a preacher, as a ministry worker. I doubt I have the abilities to make it! I have been to dark places and wondered how I would get back out. We need to admit that doubt is there. As people of faith it is OK for us to doubt. It is OK for us to question, because God is big enough to take our doubt and our questions. We need to know that others among us, who sit next to us in the pew, on the bus or train, in the next cubical, across the restaurant  are hurting and wondering how they are going to make, and if God really loves them. It is OK to question if God is with you. Doubt does not make your faith weaker, if you always fall back on your faith, it will make it stronger. Your questions will push you towards God and deepening of that relationship.

I have had doubts and I will always have doubts until He comes again, but I will never fear that He has left me. He always walks with me.

Remember that you shall not want, because He will provide everything that you need. And He is always with you.

The last line of Psalm 23 tells us this:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Goodness and mercy will follow you… Sounds like a little puppy following on your heals. But is should be more like “surely goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life…” We think that the only think that pursues us is darkness, pain, evil, but here the psalmist tell us that God pursues you. He is chasing after you where ever you go. He loves you too much to let a little doubt or question get in the way.

Live in the question and the doubt and allow God to pursue you and fill you with His peace. It will not make everything perfect, but it will get rid of fear!

 

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Defense…

So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense: “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently. “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:1-18, ESV)

What would you say if you had to defend your faith?

What would you say if a friend or neighbor asked you about your community you worship in?

We say (and it is biblical) “The Holy Spirit will give me words to speak…” That is true, but that does not mean we should not be prepared to give a defense of our faith.

Do you know what you would say to someone who questioned your beliefs, or asked you why you did the things you did? Paul had a clear understanding of who he was as Saul, and that understanding of self got even more clearly defined when he became Paul. You see Jesus has a way of helping us know who we are, because as He created us is the most perfected version of us, and the only way to achieve that person is through Him.

So pray and ask Him what your defense would be, and ponder how you might answer questions of your faith. But know that He will be with you as He was with Paul, to give you strength in times of need.

 

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