Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!
Today is the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ , the oldest festival day in the history of the church, the highest point on the church calendar . It is the culmination of the Lenten season , which started on Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes on our foreheads. For 40 days plus six Sundays , we recalled the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, a season of reflection, repentance , prayer . It was not a season of celebration, joy and gladness, in an open manner. We had the joy and light of Christ in our hearts, but according to custom, we did not sing of the resurrection , did not sing the " Gloria in excelsis " but during these 46 days we focused on the pain and sorrow of Jesus Christ to prepare for the special celebration of this most important event in world history , the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ's victory over death forever.
Before the victory party comes reflection on the sacrifice of Christ. To win the victory over death , Christ had to suffer and die on the cross. This was a very sad and painful event . As Jesus in the 40 days of His temptation in the wilderness , did not eat, nor drink , only prayed to God for forgiveness of the sins of the world, so in the season of Lent , especially during Holy Week , we think of the suffering of Jesus Christ .
Holy Week began last Sunday, Palm Sunday, with a celebration, in a sense , of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last time. When people threw their cloaks and palms in front of Jesus sitting on a donkey, shouting , " Blessed is Hewho comes in the name of the Lord ! Hosanna ! Hosanna to the Son of David , King of Israel ! ", they hailed Jesus as the promised Messiah , the Savior . But this was not the real celebration , because they did not fully understand who Jesus was, that His mission was to die on the cross for the sins of the world. They searched for a king who would defeat the Romans, a king who could provide for all their material need, one that could do miracles on demand.
So , after Palm Sunday , in the last days of Holy Week , the crowds in the streets did not shout , "Blessed is the king " but " Crucify Him , Crucify Him." And He was crucified under the authority of Pontius Pilate. So , nowadays Holy Week continues on Holy Thursday , when the Lord instituted the sacrament of the Lord's Supper . Every Sunday I pronounce “On the night that He was betrayed the Lord took bread...” That samenight , after the last supper with His disciples , Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane by Judas , brought before the Sanhedrin, then brought to Pontius Pilate and King Herod , and finally was crucified on Calvary for us all.
Indeed , Jesus was victorious over death on the cross of Calvary. He paid the price for our sins , He bought our freedom from eternal death , God's punishment for our sins. So, on one side of the cross is darkness , sadness and pain , on the other, light and eternal life . After a period of anguish and doubt at Holy Saturday , onn the morning of the Sunday of the Resurrection , He showed His power over death by His resurrection , a sign to us of our eternal life, our resurrection in Christ.
It is very important to prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection with reflection on the death of Christ , the true victory over death . It's very sad, but it is important for us. Some of you attended our Good Friday service . I commend you for remembering the death of Christ and invite all of you to our Good Friday service next year to remember the sacrifice of our Passover Lamb . Also, I invite you to our Sunday service of the Resurrection , the culmination of Christ's victory . It is very important for us now and forever . Christ won for us the hope of eternal life in baptism.
So we have the grace of God, the power of God to live in this world as their children , to be free from the power of sin.
As St. Paul says in our text for today, " Purge out therefore the old leaven , that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened . Because our Passover , Christ , has been sacrificed " Paul spoke of a celebration, but what is the difference between this celebration and the street parties this past week ? Do we have a party today according to the criteria of the street ? Where is the excess of beer , loud music and sensuous dances? Where is the joy and happiness ? What kind of party is this?
We are singing , but in a very reverent and solemn manner . Our joy and happiness are within us and last forever , not for the moment. People drink heavily to forget the emptiness they have inside , the lack of joy and peace that last forever . They have no hope and peace in their hearts. We have the hope of eternal life, so we celebrate the victory of Christ in peace and harmony.
What does Paul of the festivals of the old yeast ? When people drank excessively, they eventually fight. The result of this lifestyle is violence and abuse. For us, the result is peace and harmony because of joy in Christ .
Christ won for us the victory over death , not just for a little while, like Lazarus or the son of the widow of Nain . Jesus revived them to extend their lives in this world, but they died again . Christ lives and we also will live after physical death. Through Christ we can live as sons and daughters , in peace and harmony among ourselves and with our neighbors. So we gather to remember that Christ has done all for us.
The peace that passes all understanding be with each of you forever. Amen .
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