April 5, 2017
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from our Lord who suffered that your sins be taken from you,
The resurrection of our Lord is almost upon us. Lent, with its gloom, is drawing to a close. This Sunday coming up is Palm Sunday with its initial jubilation. However, Christ our Lord’s entry to Jerusalem draws Him one step closer to His cross.
Holy week—for our Lord—was the annual Jewish festival known as Passover. It marked the remembering and partaking of God’s leading His people (them!) out of slavery in Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea, into the glorious freedom of the land He promised them.
They celebrated that Passover on Thursday, at which our Lord instituted a new meal, a whole new covenant, not just one that was to be marked annually, but often—“oft as your drink of it”. (Just as we will at 7:00pm that day.)
But though they sipped His blood and ate His body before He’d even sacrificed Himself in time, He still had to go to the cross, so that the New Covenant in His blood could be put in place. (So we, too, will mark that event on Friday, 10:00am).
And after sleeping the sleep of the righteous on Holy Saturday, He rose in victory over sin and death, putting into effect the New Covenant in His blood. And every thing was different. Judaism was different for the Old Covenant was completed. It’s laws no longer in force. A New Covenant had come with a once and for all sacrifice. (Hebrews 10:10) No more need for daily sacrifice in the Temple for sin. No more need for a temple. For Christ’s mystical body, the Church, is His temple now. (1 Cor. 3:16) A temple He builds regularly as we receive His New Covenant in His blood.
No longer did the believers in Christ our Lord need to rest on Saturday, for they were set free from the laws of the Old Covenant. Instead, every time you come to our Lord whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light, you find rest for your souls. That means, we who are burdened and heavy laden want to come to Him often. We want to receive His New Covenant in His blood repeatedly. We desire Him who is our rest. (Matt. 11:28-30)
And that’s what Jesus’ disciples did from that very first day of the Resurrection. Four days after He had instituted His Supper they were gathered again in that same room and He appeared in their midst. (John 20:19-25; Luke 24:36-42) He did this shortly after revealing Himself to two of His followers by celebrating His Supper with them. (Luke 24:28-35)
And guess what they did the next Sunday. They gathered again, and He appeared in their midst again. (John 20:26-29) And so the Church has been doing ever since. (Acts ) We gather every Sunday in order to meet with Christ our Lord. For He has promised to be there (Matt. 18:20) in His Word (John 1:14) and by His Sacrament (Matt. 26:26-28) forgiving us our sins.
And so in celebration of our Lord’s victory over sin and death, and in thankfulness for His new Covenant in His blood this Easter season we offer that New Covenant to you every Sunday. That means we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper for all 7 of the 7 Sundays of Easter. (April 16-May 28)
For those of you who are not able to make it every Sunday, this will improve your chances of receiving the Lord’s covenant in His blood for the forgiveness of your sins. For those of you who are here every Sunday, may this practice increase your joy as you receive more and more of Jesus. If you are not comfortable with receiving Jesus’ body and blood every Sunday, there is no requirement that you do so. It is not sinful to not commune and no one will judge you if you choose to not partake of it some Sundays. The Church has—for most of her 2000 year history—offered this wondrous meal every Sunday for those who desire it. Many of you have been taught that you should examine yourself before you go to the Sacrament. That is a good and godly practice, and it is precisely why Luther drew up the “Christian Questions and their Answers”—the same questions we’ve been using throughout the season of Lent. If you are unsure about communing any given Sunday, give those questions a read-through before service each week and decide according to your own conscience. They are found on page 329 in Lutheran Service Book.
The blessings of our Risen Lord be with you throughout this Holy Week, this Easter season, and all the year,
Pastor David Haberstock
Holy Week Schedule:
Palm Sunday Service with Procession of Palms, April 9, 9:30am
Holy Thursday Divine Service, April 13, 7:00pm
Good Friday Chief Service, April 14, 10:30am
The Resurrection of Our Lord
Easter Dawn Divine Service, April 16, 7:00am
Easter Breakfast, 8:15am
Easter Day Divine Service, 9:30am