But Peter, standing with the eleven,
raised his voice
and addressed them,
"Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem,
let this be known to you, and listen to what I say."
ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN!
These words begin our joyous season of fifty days of Easter. Christ has conquered death and the grave. There is a new creation.
In the words of the psalmist, "This is the day that the Lord has made!" And for that reason, "we will rejoice and be glad in it."
Let me say a few words about the liturgical calendar - not to insult your intelligence - but to refresh your memories and reinforce why we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord for more than just one glorious Sunday.
Easter is a season of 50 days which ends with the celebration of Pentecost on June 4th. The faithful followers of the early Church extended the day of resurrection to a season of 50 days to celebrate the crucial importance that Jesus' triumph over death had in their lives of faith. These 50 days after the resurrection, were initially more important than the 40 days of Lent. To use a perhaps poor analogy, the resurrection was the "engine" that propelled the Church - that set it in flight.
During these 50 days, the first readings of the Sundays in Easter are taken from the Acts of the Apostles instead of the Old Testament. The most outstanding detail of these readings is that Peter, one of the shyest and most cowardly of the Apostles, becomes the most daring of the twelve. Peter is considered "the Rock" on which the Church was built and along with Paul, one of the greatest witnesses of the resurrection and one of the best-known leaders of the Christian faith. This, to me, rivals the miracle of Christ's resurrection.
The power that transformed the first disciples from fearful people into men and women who were unafraid to speak to crowds of thousands
was the power granted by the one in whom we believe. In the same way, Jesus opens our hearts to assure that we can live life unafraid. We are transformed by the risen presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to live new lives. Living, not hesitantly, or fearfully, living not less than God has created us to be - but living boldly, and courageously, living Christ-like lives, living lives full of the hope that is in us, because Jesus lives.
This coming Friday, April 21, I will be at Capital University in Columbus, for the inauguration of their 16th president, Dr. Elizabeth Paul. Capital is one of our 28 ELCA colleges and universities.
Sunday, April 23
, I will join the people of God at St. John's Lutheran Church in New Franklin, to celebrate their 175th Anniversary.
May the risen Christ fill your hearts with faith, joy and boundless courage to witness to his presence in the world, and may you live life unafraid this week and always!
+Bishop Abraham Allende