God’s Beloved People,
During Holy Week, April 2-9 this year, we come to the main things of our Christian faith: namely the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus.
On Palm/Passion Sunday, April 2nd, we celebrate Jesus triumphant ride into Jerusalem. And we remember that shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David” soon turned to “Crucify him.”
On Maundy Thursday, April 6th, we remember Jesus’ command to humbly love one another as he washed his disciples’ feet and began the Lord’s Supper.
On Good Friday, April 7th, we remember Jesus’ death on the cross as he forgives our sin and the sin of the whole world. We remember with sadness that there has to be a death before there can be a resurrection. God redeems the whole world through the cross of Christ.
And then: Halle, Halle, Hal-le-lu-jah! Halle, Halle, Hal-le-lu-jah! Halle, Halle, Hal-le-lu-jah! Hallelujah, Hallelujah! (ELW # 172). The word means praise God or praise Yahweh: Hallel—praise: and jah —short for Yahweh. We refrain from singing Allelujah/Hallelujah during the season of Lent. We “fast” from Hallelujahs in anticipation of the great and glorious day of Jesus’ resurrection. Then at Easter, we bust out all the Alleluias to praise God for the resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior.
Resurrection Day (Easter) is the day that changed the world forever. Jesus’ death means the forgiveness of all our sins. Jesus’ resurrection from death means new and everlasting life for all who trust Jesus. Jesus’ resurrection means we no longer have to fear death, but are free to boldly love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus’ resurrection means (as he said), “I am with you always” Matt 28:20. Even when things may not be going well in life, Jesus is with us always. The one who went to the cross for us is with us in all suffering and pain. We sang the hauntingly beautiful hymn, “Shepherd Me, O God” (ELW # 780), at my Dad’s memorial service. “Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.”
Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!
~ Pastor Dennis
P.S. A “theology of success” or a “theology of glory” always falls short when life may not be going all that well. These theologies (you hear them a lot from televangelists) finally put the blame on you for the pitfalls in life. That’s why Lutherans and many other Christians insist on a “theology of the cross.”