Sunday, April 29, 2007

HerChurch Commentary

A bitingly sarcastic take on the ELCA ultra-feminist haven, "HerChurch"

Mike S. Adams writes, "My Conversion to the Lutheran Feminist Faith"

Monday, April 23, 2007

Unity and Truth in John 17

The Source of Our Unity

In John 17, Jesus’ great “high priestly prayer,” Jesus prays three times that His disciples and those who believe in Him through their word would “be one.” The model for that unity is not a scrupulous keeping of law or even point-by-point doctrinal agreement, but the unity which Jesus and His Father share. “I in them and you in me, that they may be completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” To argue, as some do, that we cannot have unity in our Synod until we reach precise doctrinal agreement on all matters of faith and life not only exceeds confessional boundaries, but makes a mockery of Jesus’ prayer. It is God who gives unity to the church! It is the church’s task to celebrate and maintain that unity. Why? Not because, (in the immortal words of Major Frank Burns on M*A*S*H) “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” Not so that we can all get along, and nobody has their feelings hurt, but according to our High Priest, “so that the world may know we are that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them...” (John 17:22,23).

So writes Rev. Donald F. Hinchey
in the latest edition of the Jesus First newsletter

What I find interesting is that Rev. Hinchey passes over verse 17, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." Before Jesus prays for their unity, he prays that they would be sanctified by the truth of God's word. That's doctrine.

It seems Rev. Hinchey is suggesting we can be united (just like Jesus and the Father are), but NOT be united also in the truth. That's odd.

I would think that Jesus and the Father would agree on the truth. I would think that
Jesus and the Father would want Christians also to agree on the truth, and be united in it.

We in the LCMS certainly have our disagreements. But we also have quite a bit of doctrinal agreement. Conflicted as we are, if it were not for the doctrinal agreement we DO have, many would have walked a long time ago.

Doctrine is what unites us. Not the Concordia Health Plan. Not the burgundy cross logo. Not even a love for "missions".

But there is room for improvement. And the way to improve is not simply to "be nice and have a beer together". We should strive for unity in the truth.

To me, the whole thrust of Hinchey's argument is a wrong-headed diminuation of the importance of doctrine as the basis of unity. All this, it seems, is intended to once again subjugate doctrine to "mission", a regular refrain from some in our synod.

May Newsletter Article: Confirmation

For our May Church Newsletter:

Most of us remember a day long ago when we underwent a rite of passage called, “Confirmation”. I remember my own confirmation day mostly because in our family it was traditional to throw a huge party, and for the confirmand to receive huge sums of cash and prizes. Confirmation was, so I thought, a time in which I had “earned” my “full membership” in the church, by suffering through years of classes with the pastor. I figured I had finally jumped through the hoops necessary to deserve the Lord’s Supper. Boy, was I wrong.

Now as a pastor, I am on the other side of the confirmation equation. And I find many children and adults think the same about this churchly practice as I used to. But since confirmation day is just around the corner, here’s some reminders for those of us who are being confirmed and for those of us who have already been confirmed:

Confirmation is:
  • Connected to Baptism. In fact, that’s what is really being “confirmed”. God’s promises made to us in the water and the word are recalled and reiterated through the rite of Confirmation.
  • The conclusion of formal training, which is connected with that baptism. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples… baptizing… and teaching them” (Matthew 28). The Rite of Confirmation recognizes this instruction.
  • A churchly tradition with a long history, but it is just that, a tradition. There is nothing that says we must have Confirmation a certain way, or even have it at all.
  • An opportunity for our young people to publicly confess their faith, both in renewing baptismal vows, and in a personal statement they have prepared.

Confirmation is NOT:
  • “Graduation” from church. If anything, it’s a new beginning, a new phase of even greater participation in the life of the church.
  • A Sacrament. Confirmation does not offer any special blessings to the confirmands that are not already ours in Baptism. But it does powerfully recall those Baptismal blessings.
  • A hoop to jump through to qualify for Holy Communion. While it is important that communicants are instructed, Confirmation classes usually teach much more than the bare minimum necessary for one to receive the Lord’s Supper. But none of us can earn or deserve such a gift. Instruction about Holy Communion is really more about appropriate preparation to receive the gift. (Some Lutheran churches even separate “First Communion” and “Confirmation”. However, most of us do combine both events into one.)
  • The end of our learning in the church. Much of the academic world today encourages “lifelong learning”. And the church has always done the same. We have never studied enough, learned enough, or heard enough of what our Lord has to say to us.

Please pray for our young people who recall their baptism and confirm their baptismal vows this May 27th (Pentecost Sunday). Pray that God would continue strengthening them in their faith, through his word, and by his sacrament. Pray that they would remain strong and steadfast in Christ, and in his church, and grow to lead godly lives to his praise and glory.

Yes, I'm still here...

After a busy Holy Week and Easter, I was in St. Louis for a week, and you know how the week after you get back is always a catch-up time.  So hopefully now things will settle down a bit.

Seems like the Lutheran Blogosphere has been quiet lately, witness the slender new Lutheran Carnival.  I wonder if people aren't recovering from Easter like I am, or maybe it's that the nice weather has finally come.  

I did get a chance to do some bike riding this weekend.  My daughter likes to ride in that caboose-thing behind my bike and go down big hills.  Only problem is, dad is out of shape, and a 5 year old creates additional drag going back up the hill!

Confirmation comes on Pentecost Sunday, with 10 young people participating in the rite.  This has been a good class, lots of good discussion, including one last week which started with "what's the difference between Lutherans and Baptists?" and ended up with paedo-communion.

This summer will be a typical one, with Pastor Poppe and I trading vacation weeks like crazy.  In July I go to Houston for the Synodical Convention.  I can only wonder what will happen this time.  Let's keep our synod in prayers!

Oh, and we're moving (just to the other side of town).  Somewhere near the end of July or in August we hope to have our new house ready. Somewhere before that we hope to have the old one sold.  

Then in November I am taking a small group from church on a trip to the Holy Land (not St. Louis...).  That should make for some interesting blogging.

Looking forward to call day this week, and finding out where some of our bloggers like St. James and Winters will be going.  Winters' blog comments mentioned the "Around the Tower" student newspaper (with a link posted).  First of all, too bad they never had anything like this when I was a student.  Second, it was some interesting reading.  Take a look.

And man, did you see what the ELCA pastor said (or rather, DIDN'T say) at the V-Tech memorial service?  HT to Necessary Roughness who pointed out a conservative (non-Lutheran) blog site taking the man to task for his squishy message.  McCain has some good comments on it too.

Sermon - Easter 3 - John 21:1-14

Easter 3C
April 22, 2007
John 21:1-14
“The Same but Different”

Two meals. One in the upper room. One on the beach. One in Jerusalem, the other in Galilee. One of bread and wine, the other of bread and fish. Both hosted by the Savior. Both providing just what he means to give.

Much had happened between these two meals… Jesus took them to the garden to pray. Then Judas came with the armed men. Jesus was arrested, tried, mocked and beaten. Peter denied him that night in the courtyard, even calling down curses, “I DO NOT KNOW THE MAN!” Then the rooster crowed.

Early on Friday the trial went to Pilate, then to Herod, then to Pilate again. Finally to Golgotha, and to the cross, where Jesus was hung and where he suffered and died. They took him down, laid him in the tomb, and rested on the Sabbath. Sunday morning, angelic greeters told the good news, “He is not here. He has risen!”

Then he appeared. He appeared to Mary and the women. He appeared to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. He appeared to the disciples in the locked upper room. And a week later to Thomas as well. Jesus had not fled the scene. He was alive, and he showed it.

Now they had gone from Jerusalem, gone back to Galilee. The angel said Jesus would meet them there. So now another promise is fulfilled. As Jesus appears and once again eats with his disciples. He hosts the meal. He provides and prepares the food. He bestows the blessings, just as he did in the upper room, so he does now on the beach. It’s like before, only different.

Something else is like before. The disciples had returned to their previous way of life – fishing. And like one day about three years earlier, they spent the whole night laboring and the fish weren’t biting. And like that day, a strange man gave strange instructions that they should cast the net just one more time. And like that day, a miraculous catch filled their nets. This was all too familiar.

Only this time, it was a little different, too. The last time, the nets started to rip and tear – but not now. The last time, Peter fell on his face in fear in the presence of the Holy One – “Depart from me,” he said then, “I am a sinful man”. This time, he leapt into the water to approach his risen Lord.

Jesus is different too. He’s still the same Jesus. He even has the marks of his wounds to prove it. But he is also different. Now he is taking back his majesty and glory. He will soon be fully exalted to his rightful heavenly throne. Yet in his mercy he appears, makes himself known and recognizable to his beloved, bewildered disciples.

They had gone through a lot between that last supper and this first breakfast after Easter. They had seen the lows of Calvary and the highs of the abandoned grave. They had seen Jesus, heard him, touched him. Now again, they would eat with him, and he would give them blessings.

In a sense, we’ve gone with them. As we have followed these events in the course of our church observances, we too have experienced Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. We too have seen the lows and the highs. And now, for us, things are back to normal again, too. It’s the same as it’s always been. It’s as nothing has changed.

But Easter does change things. It changes things for every Christian.

It may not look like it on the outside. You see the statistics… Christians are just as likely as anyone else to get divorced, to struggle with alcoholism and other social problems. We see our churches divided and squabbling, in the congregations and even on the national level. You look at your own life, and you know full well your sins – that you are no angel.

So much of who we are and what we do is tied up in our sinful human nature – which really is the root of all our problems and struggles. Imperfect people in an imperfect world. So what’s different about Christians? What difference does Easter make? A lot.

It may not always look that way on the outside, but Christians are people of Resurrection. That is, we have been raised to life in Jesus Christ. Just as he died and rose, so our sinful selves were buried with him in baptism, and the new creation, the child of God is raised from those same waters. We are, like Jesus, back from the dead. And though we don’t always see ourselves this way, what’s important is that God does.

And this isn’t to say that Easter makes no visible difference in our lives. It should. It does. Never perfectly, but we do show Christian love and serve our neighbor for Jesus’ sake. The Spirit does move us to good works which exercise our faith. And God accepts this imperfect works of love which are also purified through Jesus Christ.

There’s one more difference that Easter makes. There’s one more resurrection to come. We who have been reborn in the waters will still die. Yet even though we die, yet shall we live. And we who live and believe in him will never die. Oh, our bodies will fail and be buried. But our spirits will rest with the Lord. And then the final resurrection will come, when Christ returns, with sound of trumpet and the dead rise again. When Christ, the firstborn of the dead, welcomes us – resurrected body and soul together – into our eternal home with him.

Easter gives us this hope. And it’s a hope that makes us different. It’s a hope that shapes our lives and gives us direction and purpose. It’s a hope that brings great comfort and peace. It’s a promise that makes all the difference in the world.

And that promise is renewed here today, for us. Where just like usual, we receive the blessings of Christ in a meal. Just like his earliest disciples did, we too gather for a meal, hosted by the risen Christ. We’re not in an upper room, or on a beach, but at a rail around an altar. But we still join in blessed communion with God and with others who share our faith. We still receive all the blessings and promises of God in Jesus Christ. Our sins are forgiven. And that means we get to live – now, and forever.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

This Grave For Rent

Christ Is Risen.  Alleluia!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sermon - Maundy Thursday - Mark 14:12-26

"Surely, Not I?"
Mark 14:12-26
April 5th, 2007

How could you, Judas? How could you betray Jesus? Of all the people that were out to get him, you'd think he could trust his own disciples. You'd think he could especially rely on the 12. You were one of them. But you had your own ideas.How could you do it with a kiss? As if you were there for a friendly reunion.

How could you bring them to that garden where you shared so many times of prayer together? How could you bring a bunch of men with clubs and swords and torches, as if the Lord was some dangerous criminal? It just goes to show how you didn't know him well after all.

And how could you sit there and eat this meal with him? How could you dip your hand in the same bowl, knowing... knowing what you had in mind? Truly, Satan somehow had hold of you, Judas. Surely, as Jesus said, it would be better for you never to have been born.

Jesus knew. He always seemed to know. He knew what you were up to. The others were clueless. When he said someone would betray him, they even thought it might be them. Each one in turn, asking, "Surely, not I, Lord?" But were they any better?

When the Shepherd was struck the sheep were scattered. They all ran away. All but John and Peter. Faith so feeble, fear so strong. Oh and then Peter, the apostle's apostle. Remember when he made that big scene - making a point about how he would never, everforsake Jesus? But Jesus knew. He knew Peter would deny him 3 full times before dawn. And when their eyes met in the courtyard, Peter also deserted the one he had denied.

"Surely, not I?" was the question. But surely it was them. Surely it was also you, here today. And surely it is all of us. We, the people of Grace Lutheran Church. We who know the Lord and follow him daily. We who talk to him in prayer, and gather with other disciples to pray. We who share the meal with him here at his altar. "Surely, not us?" Surely, so. We have forsaken. We have denied. We have betrayed.

"Surely, not I?" you might say. "Surely, I pay my taxes. Surely, I don't beat my wife. Surely, I listen to the sermon. Surely, I do as well as the next guy." Only the next guy doesn't do all that well. And you don't listen so well. And you may not beat your wife, but you don't love her like you should. And you may pay your taxes, but what about how you spend the rest of your money?

And what goes on in your head, and your heart? How many times do you forsake and deny and betray your Lord? How could you? After all that he has done for you? How can you sit here in his house, in his presence? How can you bring such filth into this holy place?

Out there in the world, when you act like you're not a Christian. It's like you're denying him. When you go your own way, you forsake him. And when you do what you know is wrong but you do it anyway, you betray him all over again. You make your excuses and rationalizations. But none of it can explain away your sin. None of it canjustify the unjustifiable. We are without excuse, and left only with blame.

"Surely not I?" No. Surely you, too, have forsaken and denied and betrayed. But back to ancient Jerusalem.... where Jesus' disciples weren't the only ones to forsake him. They weren't the only ones to turn their back on him. Someone even closer: His own Father. His heavenly Father, who could have stepped in to stop all the nonsense. Who could have taken the cup of suffering away.

But that was not his will. His will was for his own beloved Son to shed his holy precious blood. His will was for him to suffer, and be crucified, and forsaken by friend and foe alike. And God himself turned his back on Jesus. "My God,why have you forsaken me?" was the cry of the anguished Christ. "How could you?" How could he not? This is his power made perfect in weakness. This is the depth of his love for us.

Surely, not you or I would want such a fate. Surely we wouldn't want to die for our own sins, much less the sins of someone else. Surely not you or I could earn God's favor, even with such a noble sacrifice. But surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows, and with his stripes we are healed.

Surely, truly, he gives his own body to suffering and sheds his own blood even to death, for you. Surely, he gives his own body as bread, and his own blood as wine, for you, for the sure and certain forgiveness of your sins.

After his resurrection, Jesus once again forgave those who had forsaken him. He met with them, showed them his wounds, called them to believe. He gave them His Spirit and charged them with his message, and the authority to forgive sins. He sent them out to make disciples and to baptize and teach the nations.

He even restored the one who had denied him. Though Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus restored Peter three times. "Peter do you love me? Then feed my lambs."

Only Judas, in sorrow but not repentance, had sealed his own doom. When he hung himself he showed hiscomplete loss of faith in the only one who could have forgiven such a sin as his.

But for the other disciples, and for the disciples here today, Jesus has a word of forgiveness. Surely, for you, too. His promises in Holy Baptism and in Holy Communion are just as surely for us, gathered in his name. Where else can we meet God so surely as in his Word and in his sacraments? Where else can we see and hearand touch and taste his grace, than in those means he has provided?

Today we come forward to receive this ancient meal of promise which Christ has provided. We come, like the disciples, bearing sin and guilt, for we have forsaken and denied and betrayed him. But we also come in faith, knowing that this forgiveness is for us. That this body and blood, given and shed on the cross, risen from the dead, is also for us. Surely for us, each of us. And we go in peace, knowing all is well with our souls, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Typical Easter Hit-Piece on Jesus

From USA Today:

Theologian urges a new way of looking at Jesus

(This fluff piece about Marcus J. Borg is clipped part-way through, along with my own commentary added)

Borg sees Jesus differently. TC: "Different" is always a red flag.

As a historian and biblical scholar, Borg was a member of the Jesus Seminar, a scholarly group that spent years evaluating historical evidence of Jesus' life and sayings. Borg emerged from the process with deeper faith in Jesus and a different understanding of Scripture. TC: "Jesus Seminar" is an even bigger flag. This group didn't evaluate the historical evidence in light of scripture, they evaluated scripture in light of evidence and their own opinions.

Borg interprets the Bible and its descriptions of Jesus as a mixture of memory and metaphor, better suited to preserving meaning than as a list of beliefs fashioned by Jesus' followers that Christians must believe. TC: Sounds like "goulash"

"For me, to believe a set of statements is impossible," Borg says. What is possible, he argues, is to "belove" Jesus and walk in his path. TC: Impossible because it would imply absolute truth, which is anathema to these postmodernist types (absolutely, of course!). Instead we get to hear all about this "belove" term, which is really just a new way of saying - works righteousness.

"For the past 300 years," Borg says, "faith was a matter of believing a list of beliefs about Jesus. The list varied among Christians — that Jesus was the son of God, that he was born of a virgin, that the tomb was empty on Easter morning. TC: You know, everything Scripture teaches.

"But in the pre-modern world, before about 1600, the object of belief was never a statement," he says. "It was always a person. To believe meant to 'belove' a person. To 'belove' Jesus means more than simply loving Jesus. It means to love what Jesus loved. That is at the heart of Christianity." TC: It's true, Jesus is the object of our faith. But this sounds more like a dressed up, "What Would Jesus Do?"

Faith, Borg says, is a matter of living in relationship with Jesus and working politically, first for justice and then for peace. TC: And here is the bottom line. Faith=leftist politics.

Borg has taught religion at Oregon State for 28 years. He'll retire this spring and continue his writing and speaking, but says he knows already that he'll miss his weekly encounters with undergraduates.

"There is something wonderful about their openness," he says in his cluttered office on the Corvallis campus. TC: Young people who are easily led astray being every wind of false teaching.

His fans, the ones who read his books and fill church halls as he travels the country talking about Jesus, express their admiration with a sense of humor. They wear T-shirts proclaiming themselves "Borg Again Christians" and, borrowing from Star Wars, "May the 'phors (as in "metaphors") be with you." TC: Ok. Funny. But since when do theologians have cult followings? Something's "funny" about that.

"There is a hunger for something other than a fundamentalist, literal understanding of the Bible," says the Rev. Tom Tate, pastor of Portland's Rose City Park United Methodist Church. He says he doesn't always buy traditional views, and "Borg has given me the courage to come out and say certain things." TC: Itching ears love to hear what they love to hear. The Old Adam wants the law - to be convinced he can save himself. Then we don't need the Jesus of the Bible because we have the Jesus of lefty politics.


Paul Metzger, a theology professor at Multnomah Biblical Seminary, is very clear about where he disagrees with Borg.

"I appreciate Professor Borg's emphasis on Jesus having been crucified for his identification with the poor and oppressed, a point often lost on many conservatives," Metzger says. "But there is more: Jesus' suffering was part and parcel of his dying for the sins of the world. Jesus was also raised bodily from the dead to bring new life." TC: That's not just bonus material, that's the main thing! Concern for the poor and oppressed flows out of a right understanding of what Jesus was about in the first place.

That said, Metzger appreciates the serious and civil debate that Borg encourages. The alternatives to that are dangerous, he says.

"If people don't dialogue because they think that only their ideas matter, or if we put all the ideas to the side and just go for some neutral frame of reference, neither is meaningful."
And meaning, Borg would say, is the point of the Bible, of Jesus and of Christianity. TC: I'm sure the serpent in the garden was quite civil when he beguiled Eve. Imagine if she dismissed his "new ideas"? WOw... that wouldn't be very meaningful would it?

Jesus "is for us the decisive revelation of God — of what can be seen of God's character and passion in human life," Borg says. "But for followers of Jesus, the unending conversation about Jesus is the conversation that matters most." TC: Jesus the example, and now Jesus the conversation. Pray that people will ignore these lies and see Jesus instead as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

A Blessed Holy Weekend to All

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sermon - Passion Sunday - Luke 23:19-25

Palm/Passion Sunday – April 1st, 2007
Luke 23:19-25
“In Place of Barabbas”

One of the fundamental basics of our concept of justice is getting what you deserve. If you upset the hornets’ nest, you deserve to get stung. If you tease the dog while he’s eating, you should expect to get bitten. If you cheat on your spouse, you deserve it when they divorce you. It’s only fair.

On the other hand, our sense of justice is bothered when someone gets something they don’t deserve – for good or bad. Some incompetent employee gets the promotion ahead of you, when you’ve put in so many more years. It’s not fair. Another person’s children turn out just fine when they weren’t the best parents, but you do everything right and still your children go astray. It’s not fair. You go to church, you pray and give offerings, you try to be nice and kind to everyone, and you find yourself on the receiving end of trouble and suffering, and you think, “it’s not fair!” But is it?

Today, Palm Sunday is also designated the Sunday of the Passion. Today we consider Jesus’ arrest and trial and suffering and execution. And there is much we could say about all this. One observation we might make is this: that none of this was very fair.

It was a miscarriage of justice, that the Pharisees arrested Jesus and tried him at night. Trials were to happen during daylight hours, according to the law. It wasn’t right that so many false witnesses testified against him. It wasn’t fair that Herod judged him only on whether he would do a miracle or not. It wasn’t just or right or fair that Pilate had him mocked, and flogged, and killed.

So Jesus stands humbly before the Roman governor and says very little. Only when pressed does Jesus admit he is, in fact, a king, though not of an earthly kingdom. If Pilate only knew that before him stood the King of all creation – he would know just how unfair it was for him to render a sentence on Jesus. Judging the one who will come to judge the living and the dead.
Pilate’s corruption of justice is also seen in that he knew Jesus was innocent, but sent him to death anyway. He didn’t want a riot to break out, after all. It may not have been fair, but it was expedient.

It wasn’t fair that Jesus, an innocent man, completely free from sin, was tried and convicted and sentenced to death – when a murderer named Barrabas got off scott-free. Perhaps this is the height of the irony here.

What a contrast between Jesus and Barabbas. Barabbas was part of the armed rebellion against the Roman occupiers. He was a fighting man who wanted freedom for his people. . Barabbas was a take-charge kind of guy - a man of action. He would get things done, no matter what the cost. Even if it meant murder. Yes, Barabbas had committed the ultimate sin, and truly deserved the ultimate punishment.

Jesus was humble and soft-spoken, like silent lamb being led to the slaughter. He told his disciples to put away their swords. They were to turn the other cheek. He said to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. He even did miracles for some of these Roman invaders – rather than killing them in rebellion. He was a man of peace. Loving, kind, compassionate. We know from scripture that Jesus was fully without sin. And so he deserved no punishment.

Barrabas was what so many wanted Jesus to be. So many wanted a Jesus who would do the same as Barrabas, only bigger and better – a military deliverer who would lead them to triumph over the Roman foes. So they called out for Barrabas to be freed and Jesus to be crucified. It was the ultimate injustice. But… it was also God’s plan.

As a Christian who reads this account, you can quite naturally put yourself in the shoes of Barrabas. For in God’s cosmic courtroom, you stand condemned by your sin. You are a thief, a liar, a rebel and a murderer. A criminal, not against Rome or the United States, but against the King of the universe himself. And the sentence you would face is clear- only death will do. You are Barabbas. We all are.

And Jesus does the same for us that he does for Barabbas. He takes our place. He the innocent man takes the place of the sinner. The Lord goes to the cross, and to punishment, and to suffering and to death. And you and I go free. We are cleared of the charges against us and released from the bonds of sin’s prison. We are given a clean slate, a new beginning, an overturned verdict… all on account of our substitute, Jesus Christ.

And it’s not fair. We should be the ones condemned, not him. Fair would be for him to be judged innocent and us to be guilty. But in this divine plan, God’s justice and his mercy are both satisfied. Sin is paid for – that is his justice. But we are shown mercy for the sake of Christ. Our human sense of fairness falls short in the face of such a divine mystery.

Finally, just as Jesus takes our place on the cross, so he takes our place in the tomb, and so also he leads the way out of the tomb. Next Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. Easter Sunday is the highest holy day we Christians observe. Because on it, Jesus Christ who took our place in death, secures our place in life. He goes to the grave for us… and conquers it! He takes our place in death and then takes death itself away. As the firstborn of the dead, he shows what we who trust in him can also expect for ourselves – a resurrection from the dead, and an eternal victory.

In this Holy Week, as we listen and pray and sing and reflect, consider God’s justice, and his mercy. Consider your place, and what you deserve. But remember also that Christ took your place in death, and that he now makes a new place for you in life.

In His Name, Amen.