Tag Archives: Easter

Fast-Forwarding Through Suffering?

fast forwardKathryn A. Kleinhans, dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, posits, “It’s tempting to fast-forward through Jesus’ suffering and death to Easter lilies and the happy ending. In a broken world, we long for happy endings” (“Easter: The Best News in the World,” Living Lutheran, April 2018, 45).

In fact, the disciples themselves wanted to fast-forward through Jesus’ suffering or avoid it altogether. One time after Jesus explained to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die … and then rise. Peter proclaimed, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22). And two other times Jesus told the disciples that his suffering was coming before his resurrection, but they did not understand.

In our lives today we too often seek to push a fast-forward button through the inevitable suffering in our lives, But there is no such thing as a fast-forward button through the suffering in our lives. Part of being a Christian in the world entails suffering. Martin Luther even calls it a mark of the Church. And as humans in a sinful world, suffering is the result of our brokenness.

The Bible even says, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29). There is no getting around it for Jesus or for us.

But we are assured that there is value in the suffering. As St. Paul tells us, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). We are made stronger people through the suffering.

The best news of all is the suffering will not last forever. Just as Jesus rose from the dead three days after his suffering and death, the day will come when suffering will end and we will rise, too, to the overflowing joy of heaven.

As St. Paul declares, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). The happy ending of heaven will be even sweeter for us because of the suffering.

So though we cannot fast-forward through suffering, we can move through it with grace and resolve because Christ fought through the pain to free us forever. Alleluia!

 

Victim and Victor

victorSt. Augustine famously said of Jesus on the cross: “Victor quia victima!” which means “victor because victim.” On the cross, Jesus turns the ancient thinking of battle on its head. Usually in war, the defeated is the victim and the executioner is the victor. But as the victim on the cross, Jesus became the victor over the enemies of sin, death and the devil. St. Paul points out this amazing reversal:

Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” —1 Corinthians 15:54-55

Then in Hebrews 2:14-15, St. Paul describes the divine combination of Christ’s being victim and victor this way:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

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Butterflies

butterflyTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

The company logo of Creative Communications is the butterfly. I see it so much that I take it for granted, but on this Easter Day, I look at it with fresh eyes and see the miracle it represents.

The butterfly is truly a “new creation” that comes out of a cocoon (a tomb of sorts) after a period of time. What once was a scrawny, wormy like creature that was only able to crawl on the ground is now a colorful, beautiful, glorious creation that can fly to great heights.

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Now and Not Yet

open tomb

Jesus celebrated on E-Day.

Living in this time between Christ’s resurrection and his return can be difficult for us as Christians. This period is often called the “now and not yet.” It is hard to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel when you are dealing with problems and trials in your present situation.

Ed Stetzer, in his book, Sent: Living the Missional Nature of the Church, helps us to visualize what is going on here. “Think of it like this,” he says. “At the end of World War II, there were two historical dates. The first date is remembered as D-Day—June 6, 1944. The Allied Powers stormed the beach at Normandy and secured the victory, and it was just a matter of time until the war was over. However, the official war continued on until May 7-8, 1945, when the Allied Powers accepted the unconditional and full surrender of Germany. Then the fighting stopped completely” (p. 36).

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What Color Are We In?

green trees

We are in the green season of Pentecost now.

Now that we are at the beginning of what is called “the long green season of Pentecost.” I find it beneficial to review for myself the significance of the color of this season and the colors of all the seasons of the Church Year.

Whether you know it or not, church tradition has established colors to correspond with each season of the Church Year. Currently, we are in the “green” season of the Sundays after Pentecost (which will end in November.) Green is a symbol of growth and maturity. This is a time for us to grow in and become more grounded in our faith. Green helps us to remember that Christ is the Vine and we are the branches, so we need to continually rely on him through prayer, worship, devotion and Bible study. We are always to be lifelong learners of faith. Let this be your mindset and mood during these weeks.

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Risen

I saw the movie Risen in the theater a couple weeks ago, and was especially struck by how the actors portrayed the disciples’ individual reunions with their Savior. There was utter joy on their faces at seeing their Master again and Jesus responded with pure exuberance at seeing them again as they embraced one another. The movie’s portrayals of these interactions spoke to the depth of the bonds that Jesus had with his disciples and the eagerness they all had to be together.

empty tomb

He is risen indeed!

It reminds me that Jesus desires the same sort of relationship with me and with each one of us. But I find myself not as quick to respond as the disciples did. I moan a little when I wake up on some Sundays before heading to church. I hesitate to pray before a meal or at bedtime, because I feel uncomfortable about engaging in the activity.

But worship and prayer should be something that come naturally to us as Christians. They should be things that we crave and that we are eager to involve ourselves in. Why? Because they give us more personal time with our best Friend, Jesus. They help us to grow closer to him, to build a stronger relationship with our Lord who only wants to be with us and love us. Continue reading →

Easter Eggs

I am always fascinated by the attraction to Easter egg hunts. Why do we get so excited about them? I know that lots of parishes hold them every year, and even the Easter Egg Roll at the White House on Easter Monday is a huge event with thousands in attendance.Easter eggs

I thought to myself, “What does an Easter egg hunt entail?” First, there is the act of first dying the eggs in various colors for the hunt. Then there is the hiding of the eggs, and finally the finding.

Then it hit me: the Easter egg hunt is a microcosm of what happened that first Easter.

First, Christ died for us and drops of his red blood fell to the ground, much the same way dye drops onto the pure white of the egg. After Jesus dies, he is hidden, buried in a tomb behind a large Continue reading →

In Good Time

Lamb of Bod

A stone bass relief of a Lamb of God image

In an article “Shape of the Future” in the January 23, 2016 edition of World magazine, essayist Andrée Seu Peterson talks about how Christ chose to lay down his life for us on the cross during the Jewish Feast of Passover. It is no coincidence then that Jesus is referred to many times in Scripture as the Lamb of God and the Passover Lamb, who was sacrificed for the sins of the people.

Interestingly enough, Peterson points out, two other Jewish feasts tie perfectly to the events that follow in the story of Christ. The Resurrection, like the Firstfruits Feast, occurs next, and then the Continue reading →