Translating God's Word for a new generation
“Christ is Risen!” It’s as familiar as “Good Morning!” and “How are you?” Familiarity is a big part of Easter at Concordia. Familiar songs. Familiar sights and smells (Easter Lilies!). Even familiar words of Resurrection joy from Scripture. Familiarity is good, until it isn’t. This Easter weekend, we will enjoy familiar patterns and habits of worship, but we will also be challenged to embrace the supernatural, the unfamiliar and unexpected. When God touches a human life, nothing is normal again. And that is reason to celebrate. Get ready to experience something superbly supernatural this Easter!
As you enter worship tonight, you are given a smooth black stone. In an ancient court of law a black stone represented a guilty verdict. A white stone represented an innocent verdict. Consider the guilt you bear for which this stone is a reminder of judgment. Later in the service you will have an opportunity to lay this guilt aside.
The bread and wine we consecrate and distribute, we believe, is a miracle--a miracle because in some mysterious way, the risen Lord Jesus Christ attaches His very self, His broken body and shed blood, to this meal. It is a meal to be received in faith--faith that your sins have been forgiven and faith that what Jesus says about this Supper is true.
The Sunday before Easter is known by two names: Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. The one name narrates the single day Jesus entered into Jerusalem. The second, Passion Sunday, narrates the entirety of Christ’s suffering and death in preparation for the day of Easter Resurrection. At Concordia this weekend, we bend toward Passion Sunday while still waving palm branches and remembering Christ’s entry into our world’s suffering.
Lent and Easter shine a bright spotlight on who God is and what He has done through Christ. How we go about bringing that faith into the lives of others, while remembering it in our own struggles, is a question Jesus answers for us this weekend through a noontime conversation with a very different kind of person. Pastor Seidler leads us into the life of a woman whose world was a complete mess--a life Jesus came to restore and return to God. Together, we will learn Jesus’ Method for Leading People Back to God.
Do you remember playing “Follow the Leader?” Depending on the imagination and skill of the leader, it could be a lot of fun. It could also be used to teach trust. In Sunday’s lessons, we follow God--our Leader--all the way from Abraham’s home in Haran to Canaan and, ultimately, to the home of a sinner named Nicodemus. As we follow Him, we grow in our faith and trust in Him as Leader. He will not lead us into temptation, but will deliver us from evil. As John says, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” Jesus, Lead Thou On!
While human beings have always lived in difficult times, every generation believes its times must surely be the most difficult. The cultural upheaval in America and the confusing globe confronting us, from gender-identity debates to radicalized terrorism stretching from Waco to West Africa--this is as difficult an age as the earth has seen. This week in worship, we begin a 40-day period of reflection on how God moves this world from an ash heap to a chorus of Alleluias. God’s saving work in difficult times is a given--then, in the days of Jesus, and now, in the days of spiritual renewal in America. This weekend, Pastor Meggers introduces us to our world and this worship series in his message, “Trusting in a God Who Works.”
In our Epistle for this week, Peter calls us to pay attention to the truth of the Gospel. He reminds us that He was an eyewitness to God’s approval of His Son on the mountain. He reminds us that prior to this, God was at work through the writings of the prophets. In, with and under these words of truth from Peter are “high stakes” questions for us to ponder: Will we listen and permit ourselves to be carried along by God’s truth? Will we let the Holy Spirit guide us in God’s will and grace? And, if not, have we honestly considered what is at stake?