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Lenten Devotions: Go, Tell, and See

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devosAudio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

'Easter Cross ~ Alleluia ~ 'Praise the Lord'' photo (c) 2013, Sharon - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Easter Sunday 
April 20, 2014
 
The following is Pastor Ron Glusenkamp's Easter Sunday sermon, given April 20, 2014 at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. 

"After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you."
So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me" (Matthew 28).

Grace and peace to you from our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
Welcome and thank you for gathering together to celebrate Easter here at Bethany Lutheran Church. It is a holy day, and that's why we say, Christ is risen! "He is Risen, Indeed, Alleluia." Christ's victory over sin, death, and the grave calls for a response. So, in honor of that, and also because this message is too big for one preacher to carry by himself, every time I say, "This is the day that the LORD has made," I'd like for you to respond by saying, "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
 
We do rejoice and are glad in it. That's why we have such lovely music filling the sanctuary today. That's why the chancel area is dressed up in its Easter garments. That's why you and I have come here to participate in what is REAL! Namely, that Jesus is alive!
 
"This is the day that the LORD has made."
    [People] "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
 
Two weeks ago, the Bethany Foundation gave away $5,000 as seed money, so that we might grow it and bring it back next week. It's a powerful--if not risky, crazy--reminder that God gives us blessings, and we are called to invest ourselves in those blessings in order that we might share them with others. For when you think about it, we have"an avalanche" of grace, hope, and love.
 

 

"This is the day that the LORD has made;"
    "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
 
As a baker, I have learned, especially in making hot cross buns, that it is in those spaces and places where the depression or the imprint of the cross is the greatest, that's exactly the place where the sweetness of the icing runs to first. It is the same with the gospel message of our Risen Lord and Savior--it's in the markings, the cuts, the scrapes, the brokenness of life that the sweetness of Jesus comes and makes whole. It is in those very depths of our world--hunger, homelessness, illness, separation, and brokenness--that you and I, like the women, like the disciples, are commissioned to GO, TELL and they will SEE! 
 
Take a look at the bulletin, and the names of loved ones who now celebrate the feast of victory--you know that, because of Easter, Jesus is with them and they are with Jesus. Ultimately, one day we will all be together again.
 
"This is the day that the LORD has made;"
    "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
 
It doesn't matter if it's been years or just recently that you've lost a loved one. Maybe you're wrestling with your vocation or a health issue for yourself or another. Easter is about "all things being made new." For "with God nothing is impossible." Nine years ago this week, my mother, Levera, died. She and my grandmothers are the ones who taught me how to bake. As my mother was dying, my siblings and I stood around her bed. One sister is a social worker, one is an attorney, and my younger brother, Bob, is an architect. Our brother, Tom, pre-deceased our parents. As we stood there, my sibs all looked to me and kinda motioned, "Do something religious." I asked them, "What do you want me to do, take an offering?" But, I knew what they wanted, so I asked, "Mom, do you want to sing a hymn?" And without missing a beat, she said, "Yes, 'I Know that My Redeemer Lives.'" We sang that song like nobody's business. It was a holy moment. So, I thought I'd keep it going. I said, "Mom, is there another hymn you'd like to sing?" Once again she shook her head and said, "Yes, 'Don't Sit under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else but Me.'" And so we did!
 
A crazy story, but it doesn't hold a candle to the story we've seen in the Bible this Lent.
For way back in the beginning in the garden of Eden, we heard about Adam and Eve breaking bad and falling away. And what is amazing is that as we follow the family tree that we're connected to, it is also in an apple that we see a star-- which points us to the manger, to the cross, to the empty tomb. Throughout it all, there is this red thread of redemption and the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.
 
"This is the day that the LORD has made;"
    "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
 
Former Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson used to say, "It is in the church's DNA to say BNA!"--be not afraid." Both the angel and Jesus said, "be not afraid." I think that's just wonderful, because no matter who you are, there probably is something that you're afraid of. When we look around at our world, there's plenty to be afraid of; but when we look around at the empty tomb, when death has been conquered by life, when darkness has been cast out by light, when hate has been dismissed by love, and when fear has been shattered by hope, we know that...
 
"This is the day that the LORD has made;"
    "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
 
Let's SING about it! And then "GO, TELL,  and they will See."
 
"From the first bird of the morning
'Till I lay me down the day
I walk this road and pray for light to show me the way
 
The heavy load I carry
My treasure and my loss
I weary and I fall who will hold me
 
Longer than shadows
Closer than emptiness
Oh.... Mighty this love
Oh.... Mighty this love
 
It led me to peace at the river
It woke me in the rage of the wind
Called me up to the mountain back through the valley again
 
I knew it in the touch of my Mother's hand
I crumbled and it held me fast
My first song of the morning it will be my last
 
Patient in winter's sting
Restless as coming spring
Oh.... Mighty this love
Oh.... Mighty this love
 
This love is .... Strong enough to be weak
Brave enough to speak
These arms are longer than we can believe
Kind enough to lift you off your knees
Oh.... Mighty this love
Oh.... Mighty this love."
 
Lyrics from "Mighty This Love," by Peter Mayer

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