Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Fresh Start, Palm Sunday

For so many reasons, I have neglected my blog the past few months! I did a little big of spring cleaning, and the blog will be back to normal, filled with regular posts and all kinds of fun stuff beginning...right....NOW!


Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

I was going to write up a nice little Holy Week/Easter message here, but I came across the Easter message of the Presiding Bishop of my Church (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Mark Hanson. His words were so Christ-centered and to-the-point that I decided to let the Bishop speak for me :)

"Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified ... has been raised." ~ Mark 16:6

When Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome came to the tomb, their hopes and fears intersected. They wondered aloud about the impossibly large and heavy stone that presented an obstacle to their immediate plans. Worse, what they thought lay behind the stone was unspeakably devastating. Jesus, who embodied the hope of God's promise in a fully human life, was not simply dead, but crucified -- executed in the most extreme humiliation, a savage mockery of the hope that had lived with him.

But the stone was gone, the grave empty. Where they had expected to hear the silence of death's mockery, they were met by an astonishing message that the crucified one was raised from the dead, that their hope was victorious over humiliation, and that Jesus lives and is leading the way into an unexpected, surprising future with God.

Jesus lives and resurrection hope beckons. Jesus' resurrection on the third day signals that God is not finished until the life of Jesus renews the whole creation. Sinners once haunted by the threats of judgment will live forgiven, restored, renewed and freed. All lives broken by sin's injustices and haunted by death's terrors will be transformed by joy and transfigured into the new creation in Christ.

You and I are witnesses of this new creation. You have been baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection and have heard his promise. Your lives are hidden in his and he feeds you with a foretaste of the eternal feast of joy. He will meet you in your hope. He claims your daily work and makes it into a holy calling. He lives in you and sends you into the world as an ambassador of reconciliation, a testimony of God's incomparable love. Jesus lives! Your life in him is resurrection witness.

"This is our God; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation!" ~ Isaiah 25:9

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
May Christ our Lord richly bless you and your family. Stay tuned for more posts! (Yes, the "Heroes and Villains" segment is making a comeback!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Taste and See

Welcome to the Unfettered Grace blog! It is indeed a challenge to start a new blog and bring something new to the blogosphere. There is a myriad of blogs devoted to everything imaginable out there. The only novelty I can promise to bring is myself - my opinions, quirky remarks, and beliefs. So, come along and enjoy the ride.

Psalm 34:8 - O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

This is a frequently quoted verse that is often turned into nothing more than an evangelistic cliche. But the depth of this verse goes far beyond a slogan or a postlude to the Romans Road. During the Lenten worship service tonight at church, we sang a communion hymn that gave me some insight into this passage from the Psalms, especially in the context of New Testament Christianity:

What is this bread? Christ's body risen from the dead: This bread we break, This life we take, Was crushed to pay for our release. Oh, taste and see - the Lord is peace.

What is this wine? The blood of Jesus shed for mine; The cup of grace brings His embrace of life and love until I sing! Oh taste and see - the Lord is King.

So who am I, that I should live and He should die under the rod? My God, my God, Why have you not forsaken me? Oh, taste and see - the Lord is free.

Yet is God here? Oh, yes! By Word and promise clear. In mouth and soul He makes us whole - Christ, truly present in this meal. Oh, taste and see - the Lord is free.

Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free! I do believe that I receive His very body and His blood. Oh taste and see - the Lord is good.
"What is this Bread?" - Fred and Jean Baue, Copyright 1998

So often we read verses such as these and gloss over them as irrelevant to our lives. We Christians have already "tasted" of the Lord - and we know he is good. But this isn't just a one time event that happens in our lives. The psalmist had tasted the goodness of the Lord as well, but that did not stop him from penning this psalm, which also urges saints of the Lord to fear God, cry out to God, magnify God, etc. Just as we constantly must fear God, cry out to God, and magnify God, we must also continually taste of the Lord's goodness. For those of us who believe in the real presence in communion (Lutherans, Episcopalians, Catholics, etc.), the Lord's Supper is the most tangible way that we can accomplish this. Receiving Christ's body and blood in the sacrament of Holy Communion is indeed an amazing experience that draws us close to Christ, remembering what he did for us on the cross while being reminded that He is coming again in power and great glory. Taste of what he did for you on the cross...see that the Lord is good, and that his mercy does indeed endure forever. But there are many other ways we can "taste and see" as well: taste and see that the Lord is good when Christ's love and compassion shines through in someone's life - when a soul is saved - when a sinner repents - when a person is baptized - when God bestows blessings - when a Pastor faithfully preaches the Word - and in every instance in which God is involved. blessed.

May Christ richly bless those who read this blog, and may you experience the riches of His unfettered grace.