By Pastor Wes Poole
Then let us feast this Easter Day on Christ, the Bread of Heaven;
The Word of Grace hath purged away the old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed. He is our meat and drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other.
from Martin Luther’s hymn Christ lag in Todesbanden
I recently read a true story about a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. Some of his friends asked him, “Why have you become a Christian?” He answered, “Well, it’s like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn’t know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive…which one would you ask which way to go?”
Which man indeed?! It is at the most holy celebration of Easter that we see the true depth and power of our God and our Christian faith. There are many religions in this world. Most of them exhibit some degree of truth. Most provide, at least to a degree, good and wise direction with which the believer can order his or her life. Similarly, there are many enlightened philosophies that have developed in the course of human history. I am certainly not going to stand in judgment of any of them, and will have words with anyone who does! They also give their adherents much that is positive and wise; helping people to work to live together in peace, freedom, and dignity. However, our Christian faith brings something to the table that is unique. We are not just another enlightened philosophy, nor are we the typical religion, worshipping an intangible and unseen god or gods. For us, our faith is centered, indeed is completely grounded in an actual person…Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Son of God…God Incarnate….Our Resurrected Lord who sacrificed his life for ours.
It’s easy to think of faith and belief in God in otherworldly or ethereal terms. Many fall into the trap of regarding God as if He were imperially regarding us on high “from a distance” and not actively engaged in our lives. Easter shows us once and for all that this simply is not true. This is the God who literally became one of us so that He could free us, as Luther put it, from the “bonds of death”. No, Our God is a hands-on God; never leaving us alone to our own device; never separating us from His love and forgiveness.
For family devotions, Martin Luther once read the account of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar in Genesis 22. His wife, Katie, said, “I do not believe it. God would not have treated his son like that!” “But, Katie,” Luther replied, “He did.” Yes, the God of Easter is the One who has and will continue to give His all for His beloved children. Like the devoted parent who would never think of turning his or her child out into the world unloved and unaided, so has God regarded us. Christ’s Resurrection is also the promise of our own resurrection; the new and unending life we now have in Him! It’s a real life…a life lived in the present…and it’s ours in the person of Jesus Christ! Christ Is Risen Indeed! Thanks be to God!
Let us pray…
God of life and hope, we thank you during this Eastertide for the gift of your active presence in our lives. Just as you sent your Son to redeem us through his own death and resurrection, you remain with us; emboldening us for service by the power of your Holy Spirit. Continue to refresh us during these 50 holy days of Easter, that we might be Christ to our neighbor, and beacons of hope for a weary world. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Be well, be kind, and be safe! See you in church! (I just LOVE saying that!)
Your Partner in Christ,
Pastor Wes †