April 9, 2020
"In that day they will say, 'Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.' "
- Isaiah 25:9
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Yesterday was the start of the Jewish Passover Celebration. One of my friends pointed out that this year, it is going to be closer to the original Passover than it has been in modern history. Families are having to gather in their own homes, hiding away from a plague and praying for deliverance.
On the day we refer to as Maundy Thursday, Jesus took the Passover bread and broke it and told his disciples that he himself was to be broken. He took the cup and told them his own blood would be poured out. On Good Friday, as these prophecies were fulfilled, they distanced themselves away from the mocking crowd and wept, convinced that all they had hoped for was gone.
Then Sabbath came, and they rested (Luke 23:56). Can you imagine the agony of that day? The worst thing they could even imagine had happened. Jesus was dead, lying in a tomb. And they were locked in their houses, powerless to do anything about it. The one they thought had come to save them was dead. What rest could they find on a Sabbath day like that?
As light dawned on the third day, the women snuck out of their houses to go to the grave and anoint the body. They came back, awestruck and full of unbelievable stories. As the two disciples told their traveling companion on the road to Emmaus, "Some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive" (Luke 24:22-23). Everyone knew women were not credible witnesses in a court of law, so rather than rejoicing with the women, they kept the doors locked "for fear of the Jewish leaders" (John 20:19).
Then suddenly, through those locked doors and walls of fear, Jesus appeared in the room with them and said, "Peace be with you!" But rather than being overjoyed, Luke says, "They were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit" (Luke 24:37). Even after he showed them his hands and feet, "they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling" (v. 41). It took them a while to awaken to the incredible reality that Jesus was alive!
As we are all locked away in our own houses right now, it is easy to let a spirit of fear and despair overtake us. How many of the Israelites truly believed they would be delivered during that first Passover? How many of the disciples still believed that all would be well after the crucifixion? Thanks be to God, He is able to conquer death, sin, and our own fear and break in through locked doors!
As real as our lockdown feels right now, there is one thing that is infinitely more real: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! In the midst of dark times, we hold onto this profound mystery of the faith. Even in our disbelief, may God break through with joy, and may we marvel at the promise that new life comes out of the darkest times.
Our church building may be empty this Easter, but so is the grave!
This year for Holy Week, we will be offering a Good Friday service at 7:00 p.m. on both our YouTube Channel and Facebook Page. Tune in to the same place for our Easter Sunday service at 10:00 a.m. You can also follow either of those links to see other videos our staff has been posting to encourage you and your families.
While we can't pass the offering plate on Sundays, you are always welcome to mail a check to the church, or you can make a donation online, by clicking the "Donate" button in the bottom sections of our website:
. This connects you to the secure Tithe.ly app where you can use your credit/debit card or bank checking account for a one-time donation or automated recurring giving. Elder Dale Ostergaard prepared an "
" video and a "
" instruction sheet to guide you through the process.
Again, please let us know if there is any way we can support you or connect with you during this season. We need to be here for each other now more than ever. The new email:
, has been set up so you can send us any needs, prayer requests, or just updates on how you are doing. And you are always welcome to call us at 412-531-3387.
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