Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter. . .

We have a new Cantor who has been working feverishly to try and figure out everything from choir to soloist to brass in a just in case search for what can be done today -- if it does appear any semblance of our worship services may be held.  I am in awe of his desire to see Easter be Easter even while I have feared that this day will have come and the circumstances that have gripped our nation and our world will continue to preclude the ordinary schedule of Divine Services.

But as we face an uncertain time, we do so with certain news.  He is not here!  He is risen!  That which grounds our hope and life as God's people is not a pious hope or quaint sentiment or possibility.  If that were the case, as St. Paul reminds, we would of all people most to be pitied for we built our house of faith on nothing real and true.  But Christ is raised from the dead.  Christ showed Himself to enough witnesses that it was not in doubt to the faithful then and it was considered true enough for secular historians to note the claim and the presence of witnesses.  I am not attempting to prove it to you -- the facts of faith are entered into by faith and not by argument -- but to remind you that we live and die on the basis of this truth.

It seems to me that in times like these the old pithy sayings have become new again.  I think here of Jaroslav Pelikan who said: If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not—nothing else matters.  Surely he is absolutely correct.  If Christ is risen, nothing else matters -- not sacrifices or suffering or pandemic or panic and certainly not death.  And if Christ is not risen, what has eternal significance?  Only death -- the death we carry in our bodies when things seem carefree and the death that we face when life falls apart.  Quite frankly, apart from the work of the Spirit and the gift of faith, I wonder what is lost to faith?  Have we lost something precious to this day?  If so, what can that be?  But we have gained eternity and a glorious body no more stained by sin or marked for death.

Whether there are choirs belting out Handel's Hallelujah Chorus or soloists singing I Know that My Redeemer Liveth or trumpets' fanfare announcing the day or calling our voices to sing the news, Christ is raised and because He lives, I live.  We dare not lose sight of this.  For the hope we have is not a fragile hope that must be protected against the assault of doubt and fear but the strong and sturdy hope that meets our doubts, fears, anxieties, and panic on the battleground of this mortal life and points us to that which is most sure and certain:  Christ is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!

If you are not able to receive the Sacrament on this Queen of Feasts, then as you watch an Easter Divine Service, you may want to pray this prayer (HT Will Weedon) as those on screen are receiving the Lord's Body and Blood.

Lord God, on the day before He suffered, Your Son, in His unfailing mercy and love, graciously instituted for us His holy Supper. Although we cannot now receive in our mouths His true body and blood, still we beg You to stir up our minds and hearts to a salutary remembrance of His benefits. Grant that by faith we may spiritually partake of Him as we recall the Words of His new and eternal Testament. For He promised us: “This is my body, which is given for you” and “this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” Grant us ever to rejoice in how Your Son once offered Himself upon the altar of the cross in our place—a Ransom pure, holy, and undefiled. Fill us now with His blood-bought forgiveness and pour every heavenly benediction and grace upon everyone who devoutly remembers on this day of His triumph, His holy sacrifice that has purchased our salvation and His glorious resurrection that has provided to us everlasting life. Gather us together from the ends of the earth to celebrate with all the faithful the marriage feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom which has no end.  Amen.

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