What difference does Easter make anyway? It makes a lot of difference to those who are in touch enough
with reality to take life and death seriously. It made a big difference to a very real woman named Mary.
Mary had the heart-wrenching honor of washing the dried blood from Jesus’ lifeless body as others prepared the tomb for His body to lie. As she washed she remembered . . .
She came from a good home in Magdala, a town along the coast of Galilee.
She remembered her teen age years. She remembered how she hated herself for what she did and often thought life was not worth living. Then she met Jesus and felt His accepting love and how His eyes seemed to penetrate her very soul. The demons who had haunted her were commanded to be gone. After that, a gentle, peace filled her existence filled her life until Jesus’ horrendous death.
Was all her hope for nothing? What of the thousands of diseased bodies that He had healed? The broken lives He had restored? All the promises of the Kingdom of God, Jesus talked about.
But early Sunday morning, Mary was back at the tomb to finish anointing His body. When she arrived, the tomb stood open, the huge stone pushed to the side. The Romans were gone, just the ashes of their smoldering fire remained. “He’s gone! They stole the body of my Lord,” she cried as she ran to tell the apostles. But it wasn’t cruelty that rolled away the stone that Easter morning. It was the powerful hand of God as Jesus Christ stepped forth brimming with life.
Mary saw Jesus, mistaking Him for the gardener. There was no mistaking His familiar voice— “Mary.” She fell at His feet, tears of grief melting into tears of .” “Rabbani,” she said as she looked into his face. “Teacher.”
In an instant history changed forever, because where once the human mortality rate held steady at 100%, now it skipped a beat as Jesus, Savior of all mankind, stepped out of the dead statistics and into life. Death is the last word no longer for Jesus’ followers, life is.
“Jesus,” Mary would tell us, “He has changed my life.” And millions around the world echo, “Mine, too, He touched my life as well.”
For while religious leaders have come and gone, the fact remains: only One stepped forth from the tomb. Only One has risen from the dead. Only One has conquered death. Only One offers the promise of eternal life to those who follow Him. “I am the resurrection and life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
So why do Jesus’ followers gather in churches on Easter morning? To show off their Easter finery? No, they come to celebrate the victory of life over death, and to declare that Jesus Christ has risen!
We hope you will join us this Easter Sunday.
He Has Risen! He Has Risen, Indeed!
This is something that most of us are not too fond of. We worry will it be for the better, or will it not work out the way we may have hoped. Have we considered and prayed and sought God's will for us in the change. These are all questions that we seek answers for.
We have been making some changes at church. We have painted; we have taking a HUGE undertaking in replacing the carpeting in almost the entire church. We have added a TV in the narthex so people who come into the building see what we are up to here at St. Luke’s. These are all changes that as far as I can tell have been very positive and should be good for the church. But we are not done yet and I want to share a few thoughts with you.
We are in the beginning stages of considering leaving the PSEC and the UCC. I'm sure many of you have heard this and are wondering where I stand on this. First off, for me personally, I have had some differences with the policies of the denomination for a long time. After all, I was raised in a UCC church. But, I think that we could be a more effective congregation, if we were independent. I am not going to go into the details of the differences that I have, but would be happy to speak of them in person with anyone.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the holy season of Lent. I remember growing up and Lent was really important. Each Wednesday night during Lent we went to church along with many other members. We heard messages of a need to change and to love God more. By Holy Week, the services were filled as people prepared for the great day of Easter.
Life has changed. We are way to busy to squeeze in another worship service. There are way too many activities between us with our children. Lent has lost its meaning.
Our lessons for Ash Wednesday call us to change our focus in life. Joel calls us to “return to me with all your heart,” return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abiding in steadfast love . . .” Jesus calls us to quit proclaiming how good and righteous we are, but live quietly in all our actions. Lent is a call to change. We are not called to give up candy, sweets or be absolutely crazy and give up coffee. We are called to read the Bible but, more importantly, to let the Gospel show forth in our daily lives. We should use a devotional book daily during Lent, to let the words seep into our lives, like water does to a plant.
When you come to church, let the words of the scripture, hymns and maybe even the sermon become part of us. When you come forward for the Holy Communion, realize what is really happening to you and in you. Let Lent change you.
Lent will never be like it used to be, for those are only dreams. Make sure this Lenten season changes you. Who knows, maybe we will be different even after Easter.
I look forward to working with our council, the discernment team and any members who have suggestions for how we can grow this church and reach out to our community and our members. For some of you getting to this point may be a long and difficult process, but after much prayer and consideration I feel confident that this is the direction we need to go as a congregation. I have faith that God is still with us at St. Luke's as long as we seek to do his will and serve the world he loves so much.
Rev. Gary Dierolf
The second chapter of Matthew tells the story of the magi who travelled from the east toward Jerusalem and ultimately Bethlehem after witnessing the appearance of a star that they knew to be a proclamation of the arrival of the Messiah. We know that the star went on before them and came to rest over the very spot where the infant Jesus could be found. That incredible star that they followed for so many miles, indeed, had led them to both the place and the moment where they could encounter the Son of God. They knew that their journey had been worth it as they worshipped him and offered gifts of great value.
As we journey through this season of advent, leading to the incredible joy that is Christmas, I would invite us to give thought to the metaphorical stars that we follow. We know just how easy it can be for the busyness of the season to become overwhelming, pulling our attention, our time, our energy, and our resources in so many different directions. As people of faith, the star that matters most is not that of celebrity or politics. It is not those of rampant consumerism or holiday obligations. Rather, the star that we seek and follow is the one that bears the light of Jesus' love for each of us.
The magi so long ago were able to look upon the countless stars in the night sky and find the special one that led them to Jesus. May we do the same this season, turning our gaze upon the promise, the hope, the joy, the peace, and the love that we know through our precious Savior. May you and all those that you love enjoy a safe and Merry Christmas as well as a joyous New Year!
Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,
All Saint’s Sunday is one of the high Sunday’s of the church year. It is on this Sunday that we remember all our loved ones who have gone home to be with Jesus. It is a time we remember how they touched our lives and the lives of those around them. We always start the service with the great hymn , “For All The Saint’s” It was written by William Walsham for All Saints Sunday. As the basis for this great hymn , he used the verse from Hebrews that I love to quote on this Sunday. In Hebrews 12:1,” Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” It was a few days after the New Year, in 2016, and Teresa & I were attending the funeral of Rev. Robert R. Mitchell Jr. at Christ Lutheran Church in Oley. It was a day the church was packed. He was well loved, and many pastor’s were in attendance. I had the honor to deliver the eulogy. The organist played, “ For All The Saints” and stopped after a few verses, and everyone kept singing. It was a powerful moment! Maybe this is what heaven was like when our loved ones arrived. And then as we hear in Revelation 7:17, “ God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
On this most holy day, come and celebrate with us as we remember all those who
have joined Jesus in his Heavenly Home.
In Jesus’ Name, Rev. Gary J. Dierolf
Most people talk of “going to church” rather than “being the church.”