Pastor David Nehrenz
Dear Fellow Redeemed,
Easter Sunday is April 1st. Thus begins the 50 days of the Easter season, from Easter to Ascension to Pentecost. The chant and proclamation of the Church is, “The Lord is risen, He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!”
The church liturgical calendar follows, exactly, the events in the New Testament during the Easter season. Jesus arose on Easter Sunday and then 40 days later he ascended on Ascension Thursday. Then 10 days later, on Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples. All the hymns, the banners, the paraments, the psalms and the readings will be coordinated around these three holy festivals in the life of the Christian Church. How wonderful that the spiritual lives of us disciples revolve around the life of Jesus, and not the life of this world!
St. Paul tells us, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
The world without the Word of God offers you despair, death and destruction. You will never find peace with God and peace for your heart in the form of this world which is passing away. Don’t let this world draw you away from Jesus with all kinds of lame excuses. We live every day in the presence of God from whom we cannot hide.
Therefore St. Paul also tells us, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Be present with us as we gather around the Word of God. Rejoice in the forgiveness of sins and the life everlasting. I look forward to seeing you at the divine services and at Bible class on Sundays. Also, be sure that your children are in Sunday School. Immerse yourself in the gifts of God coming to you through the very real means of grace.
May the Risen Christ fill you with joy and
peace in believing!
In our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pastor David Nehrenz
Vicar Keith Kettner
As we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord in the month of April, we take another look at Psalm 23. Typically heard at funerals, we are given a picture of the God who shepherds us, prepares a table for us, and welcomes us into His house forever. But Psalm 23 doesn’t apply to us only once we enter the grave. Eternal life doesn’t start when our bodies go back to the dust. Eternal life starts when we receive the crucified and risen Christ in Baptism. Then we live again as Adam and Eve once did, in right relationship with God.
Notice the placement of Psalm 23 after Psalm 22, the most gruesome and clear depiction of Jesus’ agony on the cross in the Psalms. Jesus is forsaken by God (22:1), a worm and not a man (22:6). His bones are out of joint (22:14) as He takes the unnatural form of a crucified body. His feet and His hand are pierced (22:16). And yet He still speaks praise to God, who delivers the people through His suffering.
Psalm 23 then is a picture of the blessing we receive through the death of Jesus. A picture of resurrection, our Shepherd brings us to green pastures. We return to Eden as the righteous, and we experience Eden in the midst of death as Jesus is with us. Jesus comes to us through Word, water, bread, and wine. Eden comes to us now.
Psalm 23:5 switches the imagery from God as Shepherd to God as host. Jesus welcomes us to His wedding banquet in heaven, filling our cup to the top with His blood. That wedding banquet we experience in the Divine Service, partaking of Jesus’ resurrection in the Lord’s Supper. The house of the Lord, the new Temple, is now the body of Jesus Himself.
We don’t have to wait to experience Psalm 23 or Jesus’ Resurrection. Eternal life begins now as Jesus makes Himself present with us, bringing us His body and blood and welcoming us back to Eden to dwell with God forever. As He has risen, so we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear.
Vicar Keith Kettner