He Is Risen!

All you works of the Lord, bless the Lord -
praise Him and magnify Him forever.
You angels of the Lord, bless the Lord. . .
all you children of men, bless the Lord.
Song of the Three Young Men


Christ is Risen!

He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!


With these words, the Church breaks into Her Easter joy! Having kept the Lenten Fast, having meditated on the Passion of Our Lord, having sung of the Glorious Battle, wherein that Ancient Serpent Satan, who once overcame humanity by the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil was himself overcome by the Son of God in fullest humanity on the Tree of the Cross. . . Having rejoiced in all of that, the Church breaks into the fullness of Her Easter Triumph, through Jesus Christ.


Are you living in the fullness of that triumph, dear reader?


Do you hear the comfort of such words preached into you so often that shadows flee, and death takes flight, and your own thoughts, desires and living are set free from the bonds of sin, and you arise - anew - to live before God in righteousness and purity forever?

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What kind of preaching DO you hear? Does it speak of being successful, or does it take you back to the cross and on to the glory of Christ's resurrection? Do the liturgy, the hymns and sermons that you hear deliver to you - over and over - the Triumph of Good Friday and the blessed joy and strength of Easter?


Popular preaching aims to give you helpful, practical advice, but the preaching of Christ's Church is meant to deliver you from sin, death, and from the power of the devil, through the saving life, death and resurrection of Our Lord!


Popular worship aims to entertain you, but the Church at worship is the Bride of Christ, ever bowing to the Savior's healing, cleansing Service in His Word and Sacraments, and arising - forgiven, triumphant from the grave - to live before our neighbor in Christ's love.


We invite you to the On-Going Feast of Jesus in His Resurrection! Here, He never tires of delivering to you all that He has purchased by His Body and His Blood. Here, He never tires of being your Savior.


Below are two brief sermons preached for the Feast of Christ's Resurrection at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Click here for a third, which includes St. John Chrysostom's Easter Homily. Read them. Meditate on them. And know that with them go the Liturgy of Christ's Church, the Holy Mysteries of Baptism, Absolution and the Lord's Communion - along with the fellowship of saints - and a pastor who is ever ready to serve you with the Lord's forgiveness.


Please come and listen; come and learn; come and see. And by God's grace, be admitted to the Gifts the Risen Christ has for you . . . and LIVE!


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At the Font - EasterVigil-08

 

            We heard this on Good Friday – at 3 p.m. – the ninth hour, at which our Savior died.

 

            We heard it just before I put the sign of the holy cross upon the baptized – not in ashes but in the oil perfumed with frankincense and myrrh – the aroma of Christ’s death for our life.

 

            We heard this on Good Friday, because it comes from the preaching on the passion by St. Leo the Great.

 

            He lived in the 5th century. He was the bishop of Rome. But listen for the Faith that has been taught to you, dear Catechumens. It was not “invented” by Luther. It did not suddenly arise in the 16th century – or even in the 1st.

 

It is the Faith once delivered to the saints.

 

As we have heard tonight, it is the Faith revealed through types and shadows given under the Old Covenant – fulfilled for us and all the world by Jesus in the New.

 

It is the Faith God gave to Adam and Eve, to Moses and the Prophets. En-fleshed for us in Jesus Christ – true God, true Man. Hung upon a cross for our salvation. Poured out of His side, and still – tonight – pouring out to catechumens at the font – and at the altar: the Body and the Blood of Christ for us in bread and wine!

 

Listen!

 

“O wondrous power of the Cross! O ineffable glory of the Passion, in which is contained the Lord's tribunal, the world's judgment, and the power of the Crucified!

 

For thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord, and when Thou hadst stretched out Thy hands all the day long to an unbelieving people that spoke against Thee, the whole world at last was brought to confess Thy majesty.

 

Thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord, . . .for the veil of the temple was rent, and the Holy of Holies existed no more for those unworthy high-priests: so that type was turned into Truth, prophecy into Revelation, law into Gospel.

 

Thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord, so that what before was done in the one temple of the Jews in dark signs, was now to be celebrated everywhere by the piety of all the nations in full and open rite. For now there is a nobler rank of Levites, there are elders of greater dignity and priests of holier anointing: because Thy cross is the fount of all blessings, the source of all graces, and through it the believers receive strength for weakness, glory for shame, life for death. . . . for Thou art the true ‘Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,’ and in Thyself so accomplishest all mysteries, that as there is but one sacrifice instead of many . . . so there is but one kingdom instead of many nations.”

 

Thus far St. Leo the Great.

 

You who are about to die and rise in the waters of Holy Baptism, you come out of those many nations into the One Body of Christ.

 

You who are about to receive the anointing and confirmation in the Faith once delivered to the saints – Come to the Cup of Our Salvation!

 

Here is the fulfillment of all mysteries, types and shadows. Here is the Word of God made flesh, with all that He accomplished for you by His passion.

 

Tonight is for being bathed in that, and for drinking it deeply; for receiving His blessings, poured out like the oil of gladness. And as the oil tonight is fragranced by the myrrh and frankincense – so all His blessings to you, dear Christian, are the aroma of His death and resurrection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen


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Before the Feast - EasterSunrise-08

 

“Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

(I Cor. 5:6-8)

 

What does St. Paul mean by these words? He is speaking to Christians - in Corinth, in Greece. In their zeal for the Gospel, it seems they had forgotten what it means that Christ has conquered sin and death and the power of the devil.

 

They had fallen into the trap that is always a danger to those who actually believe the Gospel.

 

What IS the Gospel? It is NOT that Christ has done HIS part on the cross, and now, if you do yours, you’ll go to heaven.

 

That, dear Christian, is also a constant threat to Jesus’ Church. It was a threat to God’s New Testament people, those in Galatia - in Asia Minor, who did not rejoice that Christ fulfilled the Law, and so, we have been freed from the Old Regulations, the old leaven of the covenant at Sinai.

 

Some wanted converts to be circumcised. Some insisted that the old dietary regulations still should be enforced. Some would have imposed Sabbath rules and Jewish laws on Christians.

 

That was one threat – a Judaizing tendency – a need to drag the Law into the Gospel. St. Paul says: “Well, then, you’ve got no Gospel at all!”

 

The other threat is what we hear from Paul this morning – when he addresses what was going on in Corinth. Christians there, thinking that the Gospel means we’re free to live whatever way we want, Christians in Corinth were forgetting that there is something ELSE that we are separated from as well.

 

As surely as Jesus came to free us from the LAW, He also

came to free us from our SIN, and from a life of sin that leads to death – eternal death.

 

A man was sleeping with his father’s wife, and that is not the way God’s people live. We are no longer bound to shadows and types, but please – don’t think that the reality is so much different from what came before that it bears NO resemblance to its shadow.

 

Sexual immorality, promiscuity, greed, jealousy, selfishness, hatred, disrespect, false ways of worship and living – these were reprehensible to God before Christ came, and they are reprehensible to God now THAT the Lord has come.

 

If not – then what has Christ forgiven?

 

If not – then what has Jesus overcome?

 

If not – then what does it now mean for us that we have come to the Feast of Jesus’ Resurrection, and the Christ Who bowed to wash the feet of His disciples STILL is washing His disciples, cleansing us in Holy Baptism, Absolving us and feeding us His Body and His Blood?

 

If sin is not still sin – then what’s the purpose of a Savior?

 

St. Paul preaches that the Christ Who died and Rose again is STILL the One Named Jesus – Who saves His people from their sins.

 

He was named that at His birth. At His baptism in the Jordan, St. John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the – SIN – of the world!”

 

We have kept the FAST of Lent, now it’s time for the FEAST!

 

We have seen what our sins have cost Him. We have meditated on His passion. Our Catechumens have received the washing of regeneration, and sealed by God’s own Holy Spirit, they have knelt to eat and drink Christ’s saving Flesh and Blood.

 

And from that? From that we arise with them to live before God in righteousness and purity forever – that is, in Jesus.


Does this mean we add our works to His as if HIS work is not complete? As if WE must add OUR works to make salvation sure?

 

God forbid! That is the preaching of many. It is NOT the preaching of the Faith that Christ delivered to the saints.

 

We preach the age-old Gospel, which we heard last evening:

 

Rejoice now, O heavenly choirs of angels;
Rejoice now, all creation
Sound forth, trumpet of salvation,
And proclaim the triumph of our King.

Rejoice too, all the earth,
In the radiance of the light now poured upon you
And made brilliant by the brightness of the everlasting King;
Know that the ancient darkness has been forever banished.

Rejoice, O Church of Christ,
Clothed in the brightness of this light;
Let all the house of God ring out with rejoicing,
With the praises of all God's faithful people.

That is the Exsultet, from the Easter Vigil. In it, the angels are called on – with all creation – to rejoice in and proclaim the triumph of our King! Like the earth, bathed in the radiance of the sun’s light, God’s people emerge from the ancient darkness of sin, and blossom and bloom in a life that gives glory to God.

 

The Gospel does not lead us back into the darkness. By the Gospel – that ancient darkness of sin has been forever banished!

 

St. Paul had to remind the Corinthians of that – because we poor sinners will take our freedom and turn it into a license to kill – and cheat – and lie – and sin. God have mercy on us sinners!

 

The answer is NOT to impose more Law, as if the LAW could rescue us – when the Gospel already HAS!

 

The answer is – as always – JESUS! By Whose fasting and temptation, by Whose agony and bloody sweat, by Whose passion, death and now, His resurrection, we are brought into the Feast!

 

Dear Christian, Christ is risen! (He is risen, indeed!) And so, you are not only cut off from your bondage to the Law. You are cut off from your death and slavery in sin. You are buried with Christ by baptism into His death, and now – just as HE was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father – you too walk in newness of life.

 

HOW alive? Ah, dear Christian – learn the Gospel. You have not come simply to a pretty morning. You have come out of the shadows – out of the night.

 

Ask how alive and free you are to keep the Festival today and ALL your days as Christians, and I will point you to the night we’ve just been through. In the words of Asterius of Pontus, a fourth century father of the Church . . .

O night that is brighter than day,
O night more dazzling than the sun,
O night more sparkling than fresh snow,
O night more brilliant than all our lamps!
O night that is sweeter than Paradise,
O night delivered from darkness,
O night that dispels the sleep of sin,
O night that makes us keep vigil with the angels,
O night terrible for the demons,
O night desired by all the year,
O night that leads the bridal Church to her Spouse,
O night that is mother to those enlightened!
O night in which the Devil, sleeping, was despoiled,
O night in which the Heir brings the co-heirs to their heritage.

Because of such a night, dear Christian - what a DAY and what a FEAST and Festival this is! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!


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Call Pastor Sawyer at (601) 992-4752, or email him. He'd be glad to speak with you about the Historic Christian Faith.


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