This Sunday has a few names in our tradition. Our Sunday Lectionary calls it the Second Sunday of Easter. That’s because last Sunday was technically the First Sunday of Easter, or Eastertide, meaning the time or season of Easter. But that has been only since 1970. Before that it was called the First Sunday after Easter.
Some people call this Low Sunday, because the attendance is typically lower than last Sunday. We might even call it St. Doubting Thomas Sunday. Continue reading
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Tonight we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from death and grave to eternal life.
But, for many people, Easter means so much more.
As I was watching television earlier today, I saw an ad for a Golden Easter Bunny made of chocolate. The tag line was something about the Magic of Easter. It occurs to me that for most people, that is what Easter is all about. Continue reading
Today is Palm Sunday, but you will notice in your bulletin it has two names. “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday”
This because there are two distinct parts to our celebration today. The first being a commemoration of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Continue reading
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” From St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is considered one of the greatest books in the Bible. Martin Luther described it as “the chief book in the New Testament and the purest gospel.” John Knox, a modern American professor, says that it is “unquestionably the most important letter ever written.” A Scottish New Testament professor by the name of A. M. Hunter declares it to be Paul’s magnum opus.
The book of Romans inspired the readers of St. Paul’s day, and continued to do so during the early days of the Church, and still impacts us today.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
St. Paul’s letter that we heard today begins with this simple guidance for the Christian life. Be imitators of God, as beloved children.
I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “Children learn what they live.” In 1954, Dr. Dorothy Nolte, an educator and counselor, wrote this inspirational poem that was published and printed in many formats, including posters, refrigerator magnets, and was even distributed by a formula manufacturer.
“Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand;” from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans.
Last week, I touched on the concept of faith and belief. The Greek word translated to belief is pisteuō, which is also translated to the word faith.
This is more than a casual belief that something exists, but it implies a deep level of trust.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” from the Gospel according to St. John.
These words from the Gospel according to St. John are among the most well known in the Bible. They are filled with hope and love, and reassurance that God loves us, and wants us to live eternally; however, these verses tend to be isolated from a larger section of this Gospel that really needs to be read as well.
“After Jesus was baptized, he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” From the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
On Wednesday, we began annual Lenten fast in which we participate in the 40 days journey in the wilderness with Jesus. I did not say that we will commemorate this event. Rather, we are called to participate in it.
In most modern Protestant churches, that was just another Wednesday, and the next seven weeks will be as any others. Why don’t they celebrate the seasons like we do?
“Six days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.”
Of all of the things we humans dream about, climbing a mountain is right up there on the list. When I was in Boy Scouts about 50 years ago, our troop made an annual trek to Colorado to the Lincoln National Forest to camp out for a week. Each day we would take hikes through the wood, each one a little longer than the last. We were working up to the big hike the last day.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven;” from the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
In today’s reading from the Gospel, Jesus continues to upset the norms of society. The people had a concept of justice formed by the Law of Moses, and by the interpretations of that Law. The Pharisees were the arbiters of the Law, and they did not much care for any challenges to their authority.