Easter Greetings

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“Here the true Pascal Lamb we see, Whom God so freely gave us;

He died on the accursed tree – So strong his love to save us.

See, his blood now marks our door; Faith points to it, death passes o’er,

And Satan cannot harm us. Hallelujah!

Martin Luther’s hymn - Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands

 

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you this Easter Sunday in the name of God the Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As you celebrate the Festival of the Resurrection, I pray that you will come to know the peace of our Lord Jesus and the power of his resurrected life.

In John’s Gospel the last thing our Lord says from the cross is, “It is finished,” then he bows his head and dies (John 19:30). Jesus finished the mission God gave him. He came into this world to become the ultimate Passover Lamb, to give up his body and life to save this world from sin and destruction. At the cross Jesus shows his great love for us. There is no amount of pain or suffering that can come between us and his love for us.

Here’s where it gets interesting. On the sixth day of Creation, a Friday, God completed his labors and called everything good. On the seventh day, God rested.

In the story of Holy Week we heard that Jesus finished his work on the sixth day, Good Friday, giving up his life to save us. On the seventh day, Jesus lay still in the tomb. Early on the first day of the week, Sunday, something new happened. God changed everything in the resurrection.

In Jesus Christ there is a new reality and a new creation. Those things which have plagued us and sought to destroy us are not the true power in this creation. Jesus has risen. Jesus is alive. Sin, death, and evil could not keep in the tomb.

Jesus is stronger than anything that comes to try to defeat us. When Jesus rose, he opened his nail scarred hands to those who denied him, betrayed him, and crucified him. In Jesus, evil has no power because he changed the rules of life and death with his own life, death, and resurrection. He quite literally blew the doors of death wide open and made a way for us to have life and have it abundantly.

Jesus claims us in the waters of baptism, sends the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us, and promises us life eternal. Whether we live or whether we die, we belong to Jesus.

            Consider then, what this means for our life as Christians and our life as Christ’s Church here in this world. We are called into this life by Jesus Christ to share his love and mercy with the world. Jesus will not fail, and he is dragging us along with him. We may face challenges, we will see things that have to change in our lives and in our ministry, but we will be successful in sharing the gospel and the love of Jesus. Because Christ Jesus is with us in our lives, in our congregations, and in our synod. 

What it boils down to on this Easter Sunday is this: Jesus Christ is risen and that makes all the difference because he has called us, claimed us, and made us his own.

May you have a blessed Easter season and may you rest in the peace of our risen Lord.

 

+Bishop Michael L. Rhyne

Allegheny Synod, ELCA