The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday, 2017. Mark 16:1-8.
Easter Means Eternal Life


Easter Sunday, 2017

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



Note major storms are moving through, so Cox may conk out.

The Hymn #191               Christ the Lord                                  
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #188                Hallelujah                                

Easter Means Eternal Life


The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657            Beautiful Savior

The Easter lilies are in memory of our members and family who have passed into everlasting life, most recently Tammy Jackson's mother, Liliys Frystak.

Happy 26th Anniversary, Brett and Amy Meyer. "May every day be like your wedding day." German blessing.


KJV 1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

KJV Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.


Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst deliver Thy Son for our offenses, and didst raise Him again for our justification: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that He may rule and govern us according to Thy will; graciously keep us in the true faith; defend us from all sins, and after this life raise us unto eternal life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Easter Means Eternal Life

KJV Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

The Easter narratives are in all four Gospels, and Simon Greenleaf - an lawyer famous for his expertise in evidence - found them to be entirely without conflict. He tried to find contradictions and found harmony  instead.

As Luther said in his third sermon, knowing the history is not enough. That is why some of the rationalists like get people to focus on the history - or rather their own version of history -  and take them away from the meaning. But others have no interest in the facts and want to use Easter as an experience, so they write about the "Easter faith of the disciples." That reminds us of the people in the Bible who "thought they were sick, blink, leprous, and dead", but recovered as soon as they thought otherwise.

The Easter narratives can be compared to an elaborate machine that is found completely disassembled and scattered. That is how the disciples felt after the crucifixion of Jesus. In spite of His teaching, they had certain notions about Him and their lives with Him. But He was arrested, tortured, and killed, and they were scattered, as predicted in the Old Testament. "I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered." Zechariah 13:7

The task of the risen Lord is to take those same parts, the miracles and sermons and long periods of tutoring - and put them together again. There is a short time period for this, compared to the relatively leisurely three years they spent together.

Thus when Mary saw the empty tomb, she was stricken. As a grieving person, she wanted another chance to serve her Lord. So the emptiness of the tomb was a shock, adding more to her fears and confusion. In John, she did not recognize Him until He spoke her name, "Mary." Ah, He was alive, so she continue to serve Him as she did before. That is why Jesus did not let her cling to Him because "He had not yet gone to the Father." She was not longer a servant to Him, as Luther observed, but a messenger to the disciples who were locked up - for fear of the Jews. 

As they get over the shock and confusion, the risen Lord will put together their experiences and teaching and show how it all had to be, according to the Scriptures. The renewal of their training will send them out into a hostile world, preaching the crucified Messiah, the Risen Lord.

As we can see from Mark's account, the women were coming to the tomb to help, as women do at many churches. This was their funeral procession, bringing spices, and they were too stricken with grief to think about the obvious.



3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

The tomb was locked as far as they knew. A stone lid was placed in a groove in front of the tomb - not an enormous boulder that only Caterpillar could move (see some paintings). The idea was that several men together could move the stone, but the casual robber was prevented by the mass of the stone.

The women were prepared for something they could not do - enter the tomb. Nothing portrays the chaos of grief so well as this example of group confusion. The Gospels construct this picture of before and after the Resurrection, with a lot of details about the transition from fear to faith. The transition shows us how they reacted by returning to the normal mode of thinking, as if this were one more death, another tragedy in a world oppressed by the Pharisees and Romans.

The disciples were afraid and locked up, fully aware of what they had done at the hour of crisis. They could not even stay awake while Jesus was praying, or stand fast when He was arrested. They would call themselves the Intrepid Lutherans today.

And although Jesus upbraided the disciples for their actions and words, He was overall rather friendly and cheerful with them. I have known mothers who smile about how they deal with a toddler's fears, such as spraying water into the room that possibly hides a monster. Anyone can say, "There is no monster. Don't be a baby." But fear creates its own reality, as it did for the disciples.

How could it have ever entered their hearts that Christ would send such an affectionate greeting and such a kind good-morning to them who had been so disloyal and denied him, and would not only forgive everything, but also call them his dear brethren? Or who can believe and grasp it today? I myself would like to believe it at times, but I cannot get it into my heart so completely that I dare rely upon it wholly, and dare count it to be really true. Yea, if we only could, we would be in heavenly bliss already in this life, and would fear neither death, nor the devil, nor the world, but our hearts would constantly bound for joy, and sing to God an eternal Te Deum Laudamus, i.e. We praise thee, O God.

10. But alas, this is not the case upon earth; our miserable beggar’s bag, this old hide of ours, is too cramped. Therefore, the Holy Spirit must come to our rescue, not only to preach the Word to us, but also to enlarge and impel us from within, yea, even to employ the devil, the world and all kinds of afflictions and persecutions to this end. Just as a pig’s bladder must be rubbed with salt and thoroughly worked to distend it, so this old hide of ours must be well salted and plagued until we call for help and cry aloud, and so stretch and expand ourselves, both through internal and through external suffering, that we may finally succeed and attain this heart and cheer, joy and consolation, from Christ’s resurrection.

Even in God's creation, we do not see the obvious until someone points it out to us. A tiny example is what we should expect from certain plants. I became interested in the ones hosting beneficial insects, so much that I look for those little creatures when a new flower is introduced. I bought two Shasta Daisies for the bugs, not the flowers. I planted them and the flowers were adorned with various beneficial bugs, including one known (yet ignored) for its ferocious work - the Tachinid fly. They were always there, and yet not seen, disregarded as one more bug, like many episodes in the Scriptures which only teach us when we are ready to be taught.

4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 

When they finally realized they could never get into the tomb to do their work, they were just as rattled by the fact of it being open, then being empty except for the angelic messengers. Step by step we can imagine ourselves in the same mental situation, slowly adjusting to the miraculous. 

Thus we visited a boy who was in dire circumstances in the hospital. It looked very bleak, and we prayed with his mother. When he recovered fully, that hardly seemed possible, that he could be close to death and then oblivious to such dangers. And we saw another boy - very weak at birth. So every time we saw him later, strong and active, we recalled that initial dread at seeing him so helpless in the plastic NICU box.

5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

Not expecting angels, they were frightened by the unexpected again. These little details are worth so much because the Holy Spirit is especially concise in the Gospel of Mark. The hot-air merchants want us to listen to them, so they pass by these telling phrases the way a cow walks by a sanctuary. They do not stop for the treasure because they want to sell their fool's gold as real.

Some will say, "God wants you to be a winner!" And others will say, "The entire world was absolved of all sin, the moment Jesus rose from the dead." No one stops to ask how that needed to happen again, after Jesus absolved the unbelieving world at His death. Thus people get used to foolishness and get increasingly used to false doctrine from all directions.

The women were frightened because we are always scared by the unexpected. That is basis for many pranks, such as jumping of a box. The reactions are not always pleasant, because we want to run or fight. One famous sub commander said he was in a "running and gunning battle." The Japanese were gunning and he was running.

So the same figure can be frightening or consoling. For many people, the Savior is frightening because He has always been taught as a condemning law-giver. But John says, "The Law came through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ." (John 1)

The angels should be consoling but they frighten the women. There are many messengers sent by God, coming in various forms. They are not always certified angels from heaven, but people who act on His behalf, even in a negative way. When I encountered church leaders hostile to the Word, enemies of their own rules, I thought, "This is a motivation to take the Word elsewhere." My natural wish was to stay in place, enjoy security, and have a very short resume. The sudden stroke of our previous landlord forced a move when the quasi-widow had to liquidate their properties at once. That landed us on a perfect street for us, where Sassy and I visited with all the people we knew best on one day, Holy Saturday. That even led to our late neighbor dying as a Lutheran believer rather than as a cult member.

But I also believe very much in angels who guard and protect us from many dangers. Many of us can say, "I was a fraction of a second from disaster." We told our son he kept all his guardian angels busy when he was young - but later as well.

The hostile angels are the ones who hate the Word and act accordingly. No one is as energetic, organized, and methodical as these. And yet they only harden their own hearts as they enjoy their moments of victory. The hostile angels make us appreciate the Scriptures, the Book of Concord, Luther, Chemnitz, and Melanchthon. They make us rooted and grounded in the Word.

One pastor wrote about his experiences with Justification without Faith. He is building up his congregation with sound teaching, his family with his love and support. He reminds me of Mr. Gardener who always wanted a zoysia lawn. That is a grass that grows so densely and deep that no weeds can find a place. The best attack against false doctrine is to leave it no place to grow. Zoysia grows so well that it is demanding of food and water, so a congregation based on sound doctrine must be constantly nurtured with the Word and the actual Confessions (not just a nod to them accompanied by pious pledge in Latin).

6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

This is a pleasant message for the disciples, not designed to scatter them but to build them up before Jesus appears among them. His repeated appearances and messages make certain that He is risen and has a message of joy and comfort for them. Otherwise, the followers might have thought it was a dream, a vision, a case of wish-fulfillment. 

This little phrase - "and Peter" - is quite significant. Peter denied Jesus three times. And yet Peter is given special encouragement by being named. Thus we should remember Peter (and Paul) as exemplars for us. Though we may have been the worst in denying and persecuting Christ in the past (as one member confessed to me, from another congregation) - Jesus calls people into the fold and builds them up again.

26. Formerly, when we were led astray and cheated with lies and false worship, we could hold fast and comfort ourselves with firm, though false, faith in all the saints and the brotherhoods of the monks; and joyfully said:

Help, dear lord St. George, or St. Anthony, and St. Francis, and let me enjoy the benefit of thy intercessions!

Regret should not make someone afraid of returning to the fold, nor should pride. Two of the best apostles - Peter and Paul - had the worst sins against Christ. The truth stood out more clearly in them because of their previous false thinking and bad actions.

8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

This lesson ends abruptly because Easter is treated so often. It is shameful that the modern Bibles want to cut off the last 8 verses of Mark. There are many indications of the complete chapter being valid (as it always was until the fraud Tischendorf became a god among liberal scholars and misled professors). According to the moderns, then, the last word of the Gospel of Mark is "gar." For some odd reason, Greek has many post-positive words. They are connecting words and never end a sentence, let alone a chapter or a Gospel. But these critics know better and have Mark ending with "for."

The Benefits and Comfort of Christ's Resurrection
Grief is a constant reality, especially as we get older. The young are not spared, either. I grew up aware that I had only one grandparent I could remember. Viet Nam took away friends. And so on, losing parents, two children, best friends, and church members.

The Resurrection of Christ teaches us that life has purpose, that we are part of His family, and brothers of Christ. We can the results of the opposite attitude - that life has no purpose. Then despair must prevail, because the good and the evil seem so meaningless.

One classmate from high school often writes about losing her husband after a long batter with cancer. Her friends tell her to drop the subject and not write about grief. I chime in with thoughts about the healing power of faith during grief, which never goes away completely. The dominant pain gives way to dominant joy with the ache in the background. This person has slowly transitioned into an active life, but also one where she helps others with grief.

The tiniest actions on our part can mean so much to people - for years. Attending the service, coming to the grave itself, sending a card. I have known people who fret about evangelism - that is evangelism. Going to the service and comforting the family is the Gospel in action. Remembering the loss is also evangelism. Denial and rejection of grief, especially when giving Job's comforter advice, does not help. Sympathy can be quiet, even unspoken.