ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!

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Alleluia!  He is risen. 

He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

These are not the thoughts of Mary Magdalene. Not at first. Mary Magdalene’s great anxiety on Easter morning is that

“they have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:2b)

That’s her report to the apostles, and so Peter and John race to the tomb, only to find that Mary was right. The tomb is empty. 

For Mary Magdalene and the apostles, that the tomb is empty is not yet good news. The good news of Easter is not that the tomb is empty.  Indeed, an empty tomb may mean nothing more than Mary supposed: that someone had come and taken him away. Such a message still leaves Peter puzzled, John in half-belief, and Mary weeping. The angels in the tomb ask her “why?” Again her answer: Because,

“…they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” (John 20:13b)

Even the appearance of angels is not enough to drive away the heart-wrenching sorrow from Mary’s heart if she doesn’t know where she may find her Lord. 

Mary is asked one more time:

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” And thinking she was talking to the man in charge of the garden, she said to Him: “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” (John 20:15)

Mary was desperate to know where she could find the dead body of her beloved Lord. And the answer was nowhere. She’d never find that dead body again. Instead she would find the body that had been dead, now alive and to never die again. Her anguish and worry blinded her to who was standing right in front of her. Her eyes did not reveal Him to her. Instead it was Mary’s ears that did the job. “Mary,” Jesus said.

And as soon as her Lord called her by name, as the audible sound of Jesus voice entered her ears, she knew. There was only one Who spoke her name like that. That is because Mary knew the sound of her shepherd’s voice, who was now standing in front of her. She finally knew where her Lord was. And joy came flooding in upon her soul. Great relief and then at the same time a sudden rising fear, fear that He might get away from her again. So she lunges and tries to grab a hold of Jesus and to hold him so tight that He’d never be able to leave her grasp again. “I’ve got you, Jesus!  I’ve got you forever!” The Crucified and now Risen Lord rebuffs Mary and says “Do not cling to Me,” “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father.” 

Mary’s heart must have sunk to her toes. She had thought it was going to be like it was before. Like it had been for the last years on the road in Galilee and Judea: Jesus preaching and teaching, and Mary just being able to be with Jesus and serve him and love him. She thought that His being alive again meant a restoration of the good ol’ days.  Jesus must pry her loose and give Mary new vision, a new understanding, even a deeper faith.

This deeper faith that Jesus gives Mary would not allow things to be like they were before. Things would be better than before. Greater than before. Greater than Mary could ever imagine. Better than walking around Galilee with Jesus is the Risen Lord taking up His abode within you. Even more significant than an earthly home is a heavenly one. Unimaginably more than a human companionship with Jesus, is the gift of being made a brother or sister of Jesus and so an heir of the heavenly Father. With Jesus, there’s always more.

“Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God.” (John 20:17)

And so, Mary was sent that day as the Lord’s chosen messenger to the Apostles. She was sent to bring to them the word of forgiveness from the Risen Christ, for He called them His brothers. She was sent to bring a word of hope to the despairing, for Death had not defeated Him, and so death is overcome for those who belong to Him. Mary was sent to bring Good News to the grieving, because Jesus had announced that His Father was now their Father. And off Mary ran to tell the Apostles that she had seen the Lord and to announce to them “that He (the risen Lord) had spoken these things to her.”

Anxiety, fear, worry, grieving…these words apply to many different circumstances. Anxiety over employment. Fear of what will happen next? Worry about contracting COVID-19. Grieving over the loss of fellowship and gathering as the whole body of Christ at Trinity/Our Redeemer. I have good news for you—none of this world’s problems will last. For you have the one thing needful. We will carry on as the Church on earth, one way or another. The Church Militant has been and will always be taken care of. We have our Lord’s promise. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her. (Matthew 16:18)

And that is because there is no more anxiety about where to find Jesus, for it is the Lord who does the finding. Only if the Lord had remained dead would you need to go in search of Him. But when it is the Risen Christ, He is the one who goes in search of you. He is the one who finds you. He is the one who drives away fear, who pardons sin, who tramples down death, who embraces you with an embrace so secure that He will never let you go until you feast your eyes upon Him whom you have learned to love only with your ears.

For that is how the Lord finds you today, in the post-Resurrection church. Through your ears. He finds you by sending out His Word, His message. It’s a message from our Brother Jesus, who lives and reigns to all eternity, whom death could not hold. It is the Good News that Jesus was crucified for your sins and raised for your justification.

Our Brother Jesus declares that His Father is our Father and He gives to us His God to be our God. It’s a message from the One who has gone on ahead of each of you to prepare a place for you so that He may one day come again and take you to Himself, that you may be His own and live with Him in His kingdom forever.

Where is He? The One, Who is in heaven, is at the same time the Holy One of Israel whose power is in His Word, words which He places in His chosen messengers’ mouths to speak for the peace and joy of His people. Hear His Word, read His Word, mark His Word, learn His Word and inwardly digest the Word made flesh. For in that Word you have eternal life. By His resurrection, you have Jesus’ guarantee.

Alleluia!  He is risen. 

He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Who We Are & What We Believe

Aside

The Word of God

Our congregation believes, teaches and confesses that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, Word of God. We believe that God’s Word is also powerful in its proclamation to all people. We believe, teach and confess that Luther’s Small Catechism and the other Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord are faithful summaries and applications of God’s Word and that they are therefore normative for all of our teaching and practice. We recognize that the Church is in the world, but not of the world, yet while each of us serves God faithfully in our various daily callings (stations/vocations) in life (not only in “church work”). We seek to address the modern, cutting-edge, issues of the day, with the unchanging truth of God’s Word and the historic creeds and confessions of the Church.

Our Worship Life & Practice

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church is a traditional Lutheran church. We stand out from many other Lutheran churches and Christian congregations in that we still use a hymnal, our pastor wears vestments and also chants on occasion, and we follow the historic Lutheran liturgy, all done with reverence and joy in God’s presence.

We believe that the Lutheran Church is a liturgical church. This means not only that we follow an ordered, regular order of service, but this also means that such liturgy is shaped by what we believe, teach, and confess from Scripture and as summarized in our Lutheran Confessions, the Book of Concord of 1580. This also means that the Word and Sacraments are the core and living center of the Divine Service. It is around these “marks of the church” that we gather each Lord’s Day (yes, we offer weekly Communion!).

The Lutheran Church is a liturgical church to a large degree simply because we do not claim to be a new church. Martin Luther did not intend to start a “new church.” He sought reform, not revolution. Revolution was left to the radical protestants, whereas Luther was extremely careful and conservative in liturgical reforms in accordance with Scripture. Only where a teaching or practice contradicted Scripture was a change made. The early Lutheran confessors understood themselves to be both “evangelical” (sola gratia) and “catholic” (universal, ie. teaching the whole and unchanging truth of God).

Understood this way, the historically-received liturgy (also known as the Common Service, TLH, p. 15, LSB, p. 184)  is much more than a certain artistic aesthetic or style. It is certainly much more than a museum piece. It is not a static object but a living, breathing, organic truth, way of worship, and mystery that is handed down from one generation to the next. It isn’t then that some are “liturgical people” and others are “non-liturgical people.” All Christian congregations follow some sort of worship pattern. (The most “contemporary” service that Trinity offers is called Setting I, p. 151)  Trinity’s worship life is a centered on being baptized into the Christian faith and taught the mysteries of the faith through hearing God’s Word, read and sung in an ongoing way for the rest of one’s life. This takes the whole question out of the realm of “taste” or “preference”, entertainment or the mood that is generated by various styles of worship. Instead, the whole question of worship is answered in a Christ-centered reality that flows from Him to us, where heaven comes down to earth to deliver the gifts of Good Friday and Easter in the Word and the ongoing feast of the Holy Eucharist.

The teaching of God’s Word and the gifts of the sacraments pull, shape, and give breath to the liturgy.  It is not that the means of grace are added mechanically to the liturgy – just plugged-in.  Rather we understand that in the Divine Service Christ comes to us with forgiveness, life, and salvation.  The Holy Spirit is at work in that powerful Word of salvation to create and sustain faith. The means of grace (Word and Sacraments) are the “horse” that pulls the “cart” of the liturgy.

Within this liturgy we preach Christ and Him crucified as the atonement for the sin of the world. We preach His bodily resurrection from the dead as the way of our justification. It is Christ and His work among us that is the center of His liturgy among us.

What we offer is an alternative to the entertainment-driven “alternative worship” so prevalent today. This is the classical perspective and intention of genuine Lutherans in times past, and God-willing it is our intention at Trinity Lutheran Church to continue confessing the love of God for sinners found only in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Please come check us out. Ask questions. If you need help following along during the service, please ask the person sitting next to you or ask an usher to seat you near someone that can show you the way. God bless you.