Friday, March 1, 2013

March 2013

Death and resurrection. Sacrifice and restoration. Abandoned cries from a bloody cross and angel songs in an empty tomb. Christ has died and Christ ls risen. These are the patterns of the Gospel. This is the story of our God. This is what we are baptized into: Jesus dying, Jesus living, for you. This ii the pattern that gives shape to the cross-formed, Christ-redeemed life of the church. We are those who have been caught up in this work of our God: a work that creates lives of death and resurrection, suffering and joy, sacrifice and restoration.

This life forming message that comes from God's own heart is given its greatest focus during Holy Week. In the last week of March we will be gathering for worship on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday to remember, mourn, pray, and celebrate the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. We find ourselves, not as mere observers of this story, but as participants in it. We find ourselves on Palm Sunday singing Hosannas as we welcome Jesus to Jerusalem where He will be crowned with thorns. Then, just as He humbly served Peter and the apostles by washing the mud and filth from their feet, we gather around the altar on Maundy Thursday where Christ humbly serves us His body and blood in the bread and wine to wash the filth from our sinful hearts. We leave that table and follow Christ to His cross on Good Friday. We sit in awe and fear as the Holy Spirit fixes our eyes on the sinless Jesus suffering and dying as a sinner, in the place of sinners., by submitting to God's wrath. Christ is taken from the cross, dead. We follow His body to the tomb where it is laid to rest. We go home in silence.

It is worth noting at this point that there is no benediction in either the Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services. The benediction (Latin for "good word") is a word of sending. It is a word you take with you when the Divine Service comes to an end. According to the tradition of the church, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services do not end until Sunday morning. It was understood that these services (which historically have included a late-night Easter Vigil on Saturday) constituted one service that begins on the night when Jesus was betrayed and o'ends" on Easter Sunday. The "good word" is not spoken until Christ is raised from the dead!

How marvelous! The service doesn't end because the story doesn't end on Good Friday. To be sure, there is an end on Good Friday. The cross is the end of our sin, our judgment, God's wrath, and our death. But it is not the end of the story! No, it only prepares us for the true end, which is really a new beginning. It prepares us for the crucified Jesus to walk out of the tomb and into the garden where He begins to make all things new. Christ is risen! The old is gone, the new has come! The repentance and sorrow of Lent are overwhelmed by the glorious Alleluias of Easter! We find ourselves in the story once again: grasping with Mary at Jesus' feet; running around with the disciples, trying to make sense of it all; having our unbelief turned into a confession of faith with Thomas; leaving the tomb with the women while proclaiming a joyful message that brings hope and restores life! This is the story of our God, and it is a story for us!

It is my prayer that you will make it a point to join us for all three services (or should I say, the one service) this Holy Week. Each service drives you to a deeper appreciation of the others. You cannot fully rejoice in the resurrection without the cross.

Pastor Bob

Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email