Monday, April, 4, 2016 | 7:49 PM | by June
"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of our Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God." Isaiah 35:1 -2
ALLELLUIA! HE IS RISEN!
What a wonderful weekend here at First Lutheran. My jaws still hurt from smiling. We were truly blessed.
I heard many of my brothers and sisters in Christ saying the same thing…”God SURE showed up.” I say “AMEN” to that. I also have been thinking about it ever since. I heard those words and even said those words from the perspective that it seemed the hand and blessing of God was on us and that we were experiencing something very exciting. And, WE WERE.
The more I thought about it, I began to think about God’s promises taking the comment/saying to a whole new level.
He was here as we gathered in His name…. (Matthew 18: 20) --“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”
He was here as we read and hear His word….(John 1:1) – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word was also a means of His amazing grace.
He was here as we received the Sacrament … (1 Corinthians 10:16) – “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? “ He is really present and giving another means for us to receive His grace.
I love the objectivity of these strong Words from our God. I can say, “YES, AMEN, HE WAS HERE!”
I want to go back to the real excitement that many were feeling over the weekend.
Maundy Thursday was a very intimate time of worship as we gathered with each other and the LORD to receive the body and blood of Jesus. It was a powerful and moving personal experience.
The Good Friday Tenebrae experience was equally powerful and moving. There was the experience of the darkening of the church … the extinguishing of candles….
The strong witness from the men of the Board of Deacons as they shared devotional thoughts on each of the works of Jesus on the Cross. (Thank you again gentlemen.)
Saturday! What can I say? That was over the top exciting. God overwhelmingly exceeded our expectations. Caldwell Park started filling early with neighbors that we never met. There was an air of anticipation. Neighbors were anticipating a good, fun, family day. Members were hoping to see a renewal of mission and a chance to meet the neighbors. By the hand and blessing of God—that happened. Food, games, Easter egg hunt, pictures with the bunny, music, and even a dramatization of the Easter event and the empty tomb provided an overwhelming experience. There was a buzz of emotion for everyone involved.
Easter Sunday we were greeted by rain. The outdoor Son Rise service was moved inside. However God’s hand of favor and blessing did not leave. Wonderful worship, music, Word, fellowship, friends, family, food, intergenerational Sunday school activity, smiles, folk’s wearing their Sunday/Easter best, and a lot of other factors added to a very memorable day. Maybe one of the most dramatic events of the day is when one of our sisters in faith became dizzy and frightened because of physical uneasiness, weakness and alarming symptoms, the people of God gathered around her. There were a number of gifted health professionals dealing with the physical symptoms, and …a number of blessed, powerful, committed, faithful prayer warriors engaged in the spiritual battle. Guess who won? Glory to God, it was NOT the enemy. The proclamations of the weekend were very evident in the hearts and minds of God’s people. “It is finished!” “He is risen!” “Alleluia!” “Death is defeated!”
As I witnessed the event my thoughts moved toward this verse about the Risen Christ’s actions as His people struggled through the event. (Romans 8:34) --“Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
YES!! God sure enough showed up! First of all, in a very objective way, according to the promises of our Lord in His Word He showed in Word and Sacrament and in our gathering in His Name. Praise be to God! At the same time, we, the people of God, by faith experienced His hand of favor and blessing. It was an amazing thought that the Almighty God, Holy and Righteous, because of His love for us, could demonstrate through some very real, physical, and personal experiences in a subjective way allow us to know that He showed up. Again, Praise be to God! We all knew that it was not that we prayed hard enough, worked hard enough, changed ourselves enough, or worked any formula to make this all happen. It was simply the love, mercy and grace of God. To HIM be the GLORY!!!!!!!
God be Praised!