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Pastor Marcus Mackay

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Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Senior Pastor Marcus MackayHe said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 16:6-7
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Alleluia! Amen.

The women were alarmed and afraid. Who could blame them? They had witnessed the disturbing events of our Lord’s Passion: betrayal, whipping, scourging, physical exhaustion, dehydration and excruciating capital punishment in the form of Roman crucifixion. Their family member, friend, Master and Lord had experienced all of this and was now stone-cold-buried-in-the-ground dead. But . . .

You have likewise witnessed trauma of varying degrees in your life. Perhaps you are experiencing it now. It leaves an ache, a void, a pain that no words could ever express. And perhaps like the women at the tomb, you hear the precious Good News that Christ is yet alive! But like the women, you are still seized by trembling and astonishment who even after hearing such remarkable hope and joy-filled words . . . said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
I often find that the hardest truth for Christians to accept is that death (physical) and life (spiritual) go together. Pain and pleasure. Sorrow and joy. Sinner and saint. Law and Gospel. Confession and Absolution. Water and the Word. Bread and Body. Wine and Blood.

My mother likes to sing. She would wake us up in the morning with silly songs that she made up on her own. She would sing old radio and TV commercials from her childhood. She would sing hymns and spiritual songs. It was often annoying! But regardless of the current events in a busy and tumultuous household, she found some way to strike a balance. Her faith in Christ was and is her one true joy. And so I now annoy my own children from time to time!

We sinners need balance. We need some way and means of truly dealing and wrapping our head around the events of our life.

Christ is your balance. Silly songs and other such things have their place in our day to day lives, but they are but a result of what and who our faith grasps and hold dear. Ultimately, in the grand scale of death and life, our Savior is the only way to strike a balance and forge a path forward.

Consider Pastor Apostle Paul, who in the introduction of his first letter to the Corinthians says this: we preach Christ crucified. That’s all about death, pain, sorrow and sin!  But yet later in the same letter he says: if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. These are seemingly two completely different things! Death and resurrection. But in Christ, they are one. For you.

“Our hope comes from God. May He fill you with joy and peace because of your trust in Him. May your hope grow stronger by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

The women at the tomb did not yet grasp this or even possess such a balance. But Jesus keeps His word. He appears to them in Galilee, showing forth His resurrected body and even eating food with them to prove His yet intact divine and human nature. Marvelous!

If this Easter season finds you and your household in a good place, thanks be to God. If this Easter season finds you yet struggling with trembling and astonishment, thanks be to God. For your Lord yet comes to you! This is the heart of our Divine Services, every Sunday morning, where we gather on the weekly day of His resurrection. It is here that He meets us poor sinners. It is here that He brings joy and encouragement. “I forgive you” He speaks to you. “Peace be with you” He says through the mouth of your pastors. Through His Holy Gospel He comes and even stands among you and speaks to you in our Gospel Processional. “Take and eat, take and drink” He says of the bread and wine now also His body and blood . . . for the forgiveness of your sins.

He also continues to go ahead of us, preparing a place in heaven and the resurrection of our very bodies yet to come. So bring your alarm, your fear, your worries and your very sin and gather with others who confess such a simple truth, even in the midst of such a culture that calls such a faith “folly” and nonsense. He who was dead is now alive! And so shall it be for us. For He comes to be with us in Word & Sacrament. There you will see Him, just as He told you. Even still today. For you.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Pr. Mackay

P.S. Ponder once more the depth of this simple words sung by our women here at Advent as we began our Easter celebration at the early service in the dark. Marvelous.
Christ is Arisen  Christ ist Erstanden (c. 1100)

Christ is arisen from the grave’s dark prison.
So let our joy rise full and free;
Christ our comfort true will be.

Were Christ not arisen, then death were still our prison.
Now, with Him to life restored,
We praise the Father of our Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia!
Now let our joy rise full and free;
Christ our comfort true will be.