by Pete Schrank
Easter is far and away the most important Christian Holy Day (Holiday). However we seem to make so much more of the Christmas Season than Easter Season. I know the liturgical season of Lent is about remembering our sin and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, so we are reflective and repentant during this time. Advent is about the birth of a baby that will save the world, and everyone celebrates the birth of babies like no other event in our life. However, in my opinion after the resurrection we need more celebration of our salvation. Christmas has the 12 days of Christmas from the birth to our Lord’s Epiphany. We use Advent calendars with a small piece of chocolate for each day that my grandchildren love to open. We have lights, candy canes, and carols, and gifts for the baby Jesus like gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But what can we say about our Easter celebration?
As Pastor tells us, the 40 days of Lent do not include Sundays. Those days are still a day to celebrate God’s grace and mercy given to us through Christ’s death and resurrection. The liturgical season that starts after Easter is sometimes call “Eastertide”, and covers the six weeks after Easter. The first Sunday after Easter also has a special name, the strange sounding Quasimodogeniti Sunday. The origin of this comes from the opening words of the Latin introit for that day, quasimodo geniti infants, “as new-born babies”. This is a reference to 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation”. The Easter season is the season of salvation, that salvation made possible by the beating, humiliation, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Another name for the Sunday after Easter is the Octave of Easter. The Octave of a feast refers to an eight-day festal period commencing with that feast (Easter). So our joyous celebration of Easter needs to last eight days. This may not be as long as the 12 days of Christmas but we are getting there. The rest of the Sundays of Easter are just listed the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and the 6th Sunday of Easter. Then we celebrate the Ascension of Christ as He returns to Heaven and awaits the end of the age. In the Latin Church there are numerous saints and Bible stories that are emphasized in these 6 weeks and they even have special Latin names, but in the LCMS congregation we focus on the prescribed lectionary lesson.
Perhaps the pain, sorrow, sin, and death that is washed away by the cross is too somber to bring forth celebration, even after the victory of Jesus on Easter. We know the cost that was paid by our Lord, so rather than celebration, we think of giving thanks and not of giving gifts. Remember the resurrection is the foundation of our salvation, the good news of the Gospel. Although Christmas gets all the accolades and warm fuzzy feelings, we remember Christ has arisen indeed.
by Barb Mazarakos
Plans. We all make them. Plans for vacation, plans for home repairs, plans for the future. Sometimes things don’t go quite the way we had hoped the first time, so we default to Plan B. (Sometimes Plan C. Or D. Sometimes it’s a good thing we have 26 letters to work through before we get it right.)
Jesus, in His human form, wasn’t all that different. At least not that night in Gethsemane. You know the one I mean- He had just finished The Last Supper with His disciples. It was more than a meal, of course. That was the night that He reminded them that He would always be present in the bread and wine, and also the night He rightly predicted that one of them would betray Him while the rest would abandon Him.
We can only start to imagine the suffocating weight that landed on the shoulders of the human Jesus as He went to Gethsemane that night with Peter, John and James to pray. His request of them was simple: to stay awake and pray. As He moved a bit away from them, Jesus was overcome with anguish at what was to happen next. He prayed for a Plan B- “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39b) He didn’t want to die; sometimes we forget that. But He knew if it was the plan of His Father that He NEEDED to die. For you. And for me. Because that was the plan all along. As His disciples slept, He prayed two more times for the original idea to change; mercifully for us, it didn’t.
Sometimes it’s hard to go by faith alone, because we are only human. Just like Jesus once was. Even He struggled with doing what the Father called Him to, so don’t be surprised when it’s hard for you as well. We are called not only during Lent, but every day, to walk in Faith. To trust in the Lord. So make a Plan B when it comes to that camping trip during rainy weather or the kitchen remodeling project you are finally ready to tackle; not having an alternate strategy if things go wrong could cost you. But when it comes to your salvation, there’s no need for a Plan B. That price was paid long ago, after a night in Gethsemane when Jesus submitted to the plan of His Father. He bled for us. He died for us. He rose for us. It is finished.
Plan A worked.
by Heather Green
Everywhere you look at Christ Lutheran, there is evidence that the Easter season is in full swing. From the Thursday morning and evening Lenten services with Holy Communion, the preparations by the Sunday School children for their Easter performance, and the rehearsals of the choirs and orchestras, to the donations of candy for the Easter Eggstravaganza and the sign-up opportunities for ordering lilies to decorate the sanctuary on Easter Sunday, there are so many fun and unique Easter traditions at Christ Lutheran.
The Easter season officially kicks off with Lent, and Ash Wednesday. If you haven’t already attended one of the Thursday Lenten services (11:00am or 7:00pm), you really should consider going. Each week this year is a recurring theme of The Beatitudes beautifully brought to life by a dialogue between Pastor Ray and one of the Lectors from the congregation.
We don’t have an Easter Egg hunt at Christ Lutheran – instead we have the Easter Eggstravaganza. Held every year on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, the event is open to the public. The event opens with music by Sweetwine, a singing group from Valparaiso, followed by a Christian themed puppet show. Children are then led to the back lawn of the church where they run around and pick up some of the 8,000+ eggs scattered over the grass. Before they begin collecting eggs, children are told how many they can get so there are no fights and everyone gets an equal share. After they have collected all their eggs, the children (and parents) come back inside where they can have cookies, jui
ce, and other snacks. This year’s Easter Eggstravaganza will be held on Saturday, April 13th at 10:30am.
Palm Sunday, April 14th, marks the start of Holy Week at Christ Lutheran. We have three services on Palm Sunday (8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am) all with Holy Communion, that will be filled with music from our Joy and Praise and youth choirs, which are scheduled to sing at all services. The Thursday Lenten services switch focus to Maundy Thursday, with the 7:00pm service concluding with laying bare the altar. Good Friday offers the “Tenebrae: Seven Last Words of Christ” service at 11:00am, and the “Tenebrae: Portraits in Grace” service at 7:00pm. (Please note there will not be a Saturday evening service during Holy Week).
Easter Sunday begins early at Christ Lutheran, literally. The Sunrise service takes place at 6:30am, followed by an Easter Breakfast which is hosted by the youth of the congregation. The next two services, the “Family Easter” service is at 9:00 and the “Festival” service is at 11:00am. All the Easter Sunday services will offer a plethora of music and Holy Communion.
If you have any questions about any of these services or events, please contact the Church office.
by Pete Schrank
The focus for Easter is our salvation in Jesus, and His three-year ministry starts with His baptism in the Jordan River. Christ’s baptism was as an adult. John the Baptist was baptizing many people out in the wilderness by the Jordan River during his ministry. Baptism was the symbolic washing away of the sins of a repentant person. John was asking all the people of Israel to repent and be baptized in preparation for the coming Messiah. John knew that his baptism was with water and Jesus was coming to bring a baptism by the Holy Spirit, God’s Holy Spirit. We see many adult baptisms in the Bible: the Ethiopian eunuch, the three thousand (Acts chapter 2), and all of those early converts.
So the question for Lutherans is why infant baptism?
Lutherans practice infant baptism because they believe that God mandates it through the Great Commission: Jesus Christ says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, in which Jesus does not set any age limit. The Bible speaks of early Christians receiving the words of the Apostles and the entire group being baptized. We read about an entire household- men, women, children, servants, and slaves- getting baptized.
We also cite other biblical passages such as Mark 10:13-15, Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38-39 in support of our understanding of what Jesus said in Scripture. We see Peter preaching at Pentecost and including children in the promise of Baptism: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children”.
For Lutherans like you and me, baptism is by the grace of God. The efficacy of our baptism does not depend on the faith, strength, status, or good works of the person being baptized. Since the creation of faith is exclusively God’s work, it does not depend on the actions of the one baptized, whether infant or adult. Even though baptized infants cannot articulate that faith,
Lutherans believe that it is present all the same. Because it is faith alone that receives these divine gifts, Lutherans confess that baptism “works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare”. In the special section on infant baptism in his Large Catechism, Luther argues that infant baptism is God-pleasing because persons so baptized were reborn and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Lutherans believe that babies are conceived and born sinful, as we all bear the burden of Adam’s original sin. Therefore they need to be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. Through Baptism the Holy Spirit works rebirth, creates faith in them, and saves them (1 Peter 3:21) And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you-not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God fora good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, so babies need the protection of baptism as soon as possible.
Adult baptism, or what can be call “believers baptism”, relies on the person being baptized confessing a belief in Jesus and is practiced by many faith groups. However this by definition places some of the efficacy of your baptism on you. This is the same slippery slope that we see in the gift of salvation on the cross. You can do nothing to earn your way to salvation and you can do nothing to increase the cleansing of your baptism. It is all simply a gift from God.
by Barb Mazarakos
Easter is a busy time around Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, and there are plenty of opportunities for worship during Holy Week.
We begin with Palm Sunday services on Sunday, April 14. Holy Communion Services in anticipation of the Passion of our Lord will be at 8am, 9:30am and 11am that morning.
As we move through the week, you can join us for worship on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday at 11am both days, as well as 7pm Maundy Thursday for the stripping of the altar. On Good Friday, April, 19th at 7:00PM, the Christ Choir of Christ Lutheran Church will perform the Good Friday cantata, “Portraits in Grace”, written by Joseph M. Martin. This Tenebrae (a service in gradual darkness) includes choral music, hymns, narration, readings and congregation participation.
There will be no 5pm service on Saturday, April 20, as we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection on Sunday morning. Easter Sunday services will be held at 6:30am (Sunrise Service), 9am (Family Service with Holy Communion) and 11am (Festival Service with Holy Communion). If you are coming to one of the first two services, don’t forget to make time for the annual Youth Pancake Breakfast, hosted in the gym of Ledogar Hall between 8 and 9am.
Of course we want to make sure we give our office staff time to celebrate Easter with their families, so the church office will close at noon Good Friday and remain closed until Tuesday morning, April 23. We thank you in advance for your understanding.
May the Lord be with you as we travel the final length of the journey to the Cross and the return of the “Alleluia”. Easter blessings from the Stewardship Committee to all of our Christ Lutheran family this joyous Easter season.