Week of April 24 - Easter
“Once upon a time.” How many stories have you heard that started with those words? And when you hear them, your mind tells you, “Oh, this isn’t true. It is just a nice story.” It has become the stock phrase for starting myths, fables and fairy tales. Most of the world relegates the Resurrection of Jesus into one of those categories. They don’t believe it to be true. It doesn’t make sense. When people die, they stay dead. That’s what the world says.
However, the resurrection of Jesus does not begin with “once upon a time.” John’s Gospel starts this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:1,14).
God’s revelation of Himself to us in human flesh was not just so He could hang out with us awhile and we could get to know Him better. It was for the express purpose of bringing us life. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
That life is ours because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and conquered death by His resurrection. He told His disciples that would be the case even before it happened. “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).
Jesus did rise. He was seen by many and it transformed them into people willing to die to spread the news that He is alive. He knew it would be difficult for people to make the leap of faith, and said as much to His disciples the day He rose: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
By the working of the Holy Spirit, you are indeed blessed believing that Jesus conquered death by His resurrection. His victory is yours. That is reason to rejoice! Jesus Lives! Alleluia!
Rev Michael Mattil
LWML Sr Counselor
Saturday, the Sabbath, the day the Lord had established as a day of rest for all among His people [Exodus 20:8-11]. Holy Saturday may seem like a minor day went set between the holy days of Good Friday and Easter, but it has come to hold a sacred significance to the followers of Jesus.
On that first Holy Saturday, it was probably not too “restful” for Jesus’ disciples. Their Rabbi and Friend had been seized on Thursday and brutally crucified on Friday…His body even hastily removed from the cross and buried so as to not violate the Sabbath laws. It was likely a day filled with heart-breaking grief and guilt-filled regret. Yet what amazing good news would await Jesus’ followers just one day later. Their mourning would soon be turned to joy in Christ’s resurrection as death gave way to His life.
That first Holy Saturday may have been difficult for the disciples, but the Church since has seen it a sacred, joyful day. Set between the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Easter vigil often focuses on the gift of Holy Baptism where followers of Christ are gifted by the Spirit to die to sin and resurrect – new creatures in Christ. As Paul writes “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” [Romans 6:3-4]
Rejoice in the Sabbath rest that is ours in Christ!
Rev Kristopher Whitby
LWML Jr Counselor
Stuart Townend is a Christian songwriter. He has the ability to craft songs that convey deep theological truths in ways that touch the heart and soul. He wrote a song in 1995 that has the feel of a hymn that has been around for centuries: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.
This is part of what he said about the experience of writing this song: …I'd been meditating on the cross, and in particular what it cost the Father to give up his beloved Son to a torturous death on a cross. And what was my part in it? Not only was it my sin that put him there, but if I'd lived at that time, it would probably have been me in that crowd, shouting with everyone else 'crucify him'.
The second stanza helps us focus on the significance of what happened at Calvary:
Behold the man upon a cross, my sin upon his shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held him there until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life; I know that it is finished
It is finished. Jesus made the payment demanded for the sins of the world. Thank you, my dear Savior, for your dying love.
Rev Michael Mattil
LWML Sr Counselor
Week of April 17 - Power Race
The end of the fiscal biennium closed on March 31, 2011. We do not know the total amount of mites gathered as donations are still arriving that were post-marked by March 31. However, we do know that we have been in a Mite Marathon to finish this race strong.
Now we begin a new Mite Marathon to support the mission grants that will be selected at the LWML 34th Biennial Convention in Peoria in June. How will we begin this new challenge? We need to begin strong now in order to finish strong – meeting each monthly hurdle along the way.
Let us all plug into some power for this new and exciting race – God’s power, as we approach Him in prayer. With each gift sent for the next mission goal, begin with prayer that the gift will be used to God’s glory to help touch lives with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
His Power – Our Race
LWML PR Director
Week of April 10 - Around the Globe
While attending the Lutherans in Medical Missions’ Forum in Wichita, Kansas, I was able to talk to three missionaries who received grant money from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. It was humbling to be with all these doctors, nurses, clergy, psychologists and volunteers who have given so much of their time to heal those hurting in body and soul. Rita, a missionary nurse, thanked the LWML for the grant funding pre- and post-natal well-baby clinics in Kyrgyzstan and told how lessons gleaned from that experience have spilled over into work with victims of the earthquake in Chile. Judy related how LWML enabled communication between mission stations in the western highlands of Papua New Guinea by providing money to purchase a radio system. Dorothy recalled a grant for uniforms for medical students there.
God continues to bless the efforts of Lutheran Women in Mission all around the world. Join us at convention in Peoria as we choose new mission grants and praise God for His love and grace which He offers to all His children, everywhere.
Note: The Kyrgyzstan grant was 2001-2003 and the New Guinea radio grant was 1977-1979
LWML VP of Christian Life
Week of April 3 - Spring: A Time for Seeds
Even though snow continues to fall in parts of the United States, we are officially in the Spring season as of March 21. Spring—a time of planting seeds and the anticipation of what will grow and develop from those seeds.
The LWML has very special seeds: Mustard Seeds, brief devotions for personal reflection or to use and spread God’s Word to others. You may tuck them in a card, letter, or when paying a bill; some leave them with tips in restaurants or hotels; others use them for favors at meetings, parties or events. Since you are here on our home page, check this link to see what is available for ordering on line.
Mustard Seeds are also now available on a daily subscription, delivered right to your inbox. More information on how to subscribe is located on the Mustard Seeds webpage. The response to this feature has been very positive. God’s Word is being sown in many places through LWML Mustard Seeds.
Have you planted your seeds?