April 2021

Dear People of God,

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! I can hardly wait for us to say that to each other on Easter Sunday, April 4th. We are all craving some good news in this long pandemic year of illness and death. Wow, do we ever need a Savior in times like these! Thankfully, God has sent Jesus the Son. Jesus entered fully into our human situation, even unto death and death on a cross, no less. Lent is good. We need the disciplines of lent, such as prayer, confession, fasting and deeds of charity to help us to truly appreciate Jesus’ victory over sin and death when we finally do celebrate Resurrection Day.

But, let’s be honest, lent can drag on. My Dad, Pastor Jerry Hickman, had a dry sense of humor. Years ago when someone asked what he wanted to give up for lent that year, he said bluntly, “Lent.” Some pastors have remarked that in this pandemic, it has seemed like a year-long Lenten season. There are signs of hope with the vaccines being distributed, but we still have quite a ways to go.

But, regardless of where our nation and world are in the vaccination race, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” By his death, Jesus has destroyed the power of death. And by his rising, Jesus has brought us into eternal life.

I remember PLU religion professor Ken Christopherson, who was Opal Solberg’s brother, recounting the time he was in Russia early Easter morn. Actually it was still the U.S.S.R. back then. Dr. Christopherson did not speak much Russian, but he figured out how to say, “Christ is risen!” So he said it to a Russian gentleman on the street. Sure enough, the gent replied back in Russian, “He is risen indeed!”

The resurrection of Jesus is great news for all peoples of all languages, cultures and nations. But the best news ever is too big, too cosmic, too wonderful to be confined to one day. So in the church year we celebrate Jesus’ Easter Resurrection for 7 weeks. There are 7 Sundays of Easter: a week of weeks: a Sabbath of Sabbaths: 50 days of rejoicing. And really every Sunday is a “little Easter”: a mini celebration of Jesus’ resurrection victory over sin and death for us.

And trusting in the resurrection, we are then called to be, as the reformer Martin Luther would say, “little Christs to our neighbor.” As forgiven and free people of our Risen Lord Jesus, we are called to share the love and great news of Jesus with other people in word and in deed.

Christ is risen! He is Risen indeed!

Pastor Dennis