On April 21st, Christians around the world joyfully celebrate Easter—the highest and holiest feast of the liturgical year. We celebrate Christ’s triumph over death, sin, and hell through his glorious resurrection. It is a happy day, indeed! But Easter isn’t just an important liturgical feast, it is a reality to be lived. Today, I want to examine how living in the light of the resurrected Christ can transform our lives.
Have you been baptized? If so, you are a partaker in the resurrected life of Christ, and you are a child of the most-high God. St. Paul tells us, “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. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:4-5).In other words, through your baptism, you were mystically immersed into the very death and resurrection of Christ. Your baptism has made you one with Jesus that His Easter triumph is your triumph—His new life is your new life.
But despite the wonderful reality of our new life in Christ, given to us in baptism, we often live lives controlled by our disordered passions. Rather than living freedom as the children of God, we live in bondage to sin.
Simply put, we love sin too much. We think its pitiful pleasure will bring us more joy than God can—but nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, sin is nothing but degrading slavery. When the Jewish people were captive in Egypt, they worked long hours for hardly any pay. They broke their bodies building monuments for Pharaoh, and in return they were lucky to get a crust of bread.
Sin is similar. It destroys us—body and soul—for a moment’s gratification. It mars and twists the beautiful image of God in us. And eventually, as a reward for our dedicated service, sin offers death, “For the wages of sin is death” (Roman 6:23).As baptized Lutherans, we must never live in this bondage to sin, for if we do, we will forfeit our inheritance as God’s children. Instead, we should live the reality of Easter, which is the reality of Christ’s new life given to us in baptism. How can we do this? Again, St. Paul explains:“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Roman 6:5-6).
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, andyour members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:13).
St. Paul is telling us that we must imitate Christ in both his death and new life—in his death by crucifying and burying our sinful ways, and in his life by reorienting our entire existence toward God. Through our actions, we must serve the law of love, which leads to eternal life, rather than the law of sin, which leads to eternal death.
Do you see an area in your everyday life where you are still in bondage to sin? Are you betraying your dignity as a child of God? If so, crucify that sin with all your might through confession, prayer, and repentance to God. Bury it once and for all and begin to walk in freedom and righteousness. St. Paul assures you that, if you do this, “sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).
In the resurrection, Christ freed us from the terrible reign of sin and death, just as God freed the people of Israel from their bondage in Egypt, leading them through the waters to safety. Through the waters of baptism, prefigured by the waters of the Red Sea, we participate in the triumphant life of Christ.
Let us then shake off the slavery of the devil. Let us reject it with our whole hearts, just as we did in our baptismal vows. By the abundant grace of God, and through God, let us conquer ourselves and our sinful inclinations, crucifying them with Christ and burying them forever. Then, let’s begin to walk in the new life Christ won for us in his triumphant resurrection, embracing the reality of Easter that makes us joyfully alive to God. Amen.
Ladies Aid: Linda Hoffman
The Ladies of Zion had a terrific lunch while doing business on March 10th. We will continue to collect mites and stamps for LWML as well as collecting plastic bottle caps of all kinds to give to the Dekalb Homemakers for the Buddy Bench program. Lids can be dropped off in the Fellowship Hall at church. Groceries, paper products, and baby supplies may be placed there as well. These donations are being dropped off regularly to the Seminary. Please think of them and pick up a little extra when you are at the store.
All ladies are invited to get together at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, April 3. We will meet in the Fellowship Hall to assemble a small craft to give to members of the congregation and we will enjoy each other’s company while doing it!
Remember that the LWML National Convention will be June 20-23 in Mobile Alabama. Let me know if you are interested in attending!
The LWML Spring Gathering will be at Lake George, Fremont, IN on Saturday May 4th. Plan to attend and hear how we can support the Steuben County Homeless Shelter as well as to visit with our sisters in Christ. Registration begins at 8:45 AM, and a carpool will leave from Zion at 8:15 AM. Look for the invitation on the church bulletin board and on Facebook.
Zion kids can look forward to learning about Lent: Why is Jesus so important? What does the cross mean? Easter is more than eggs… The lessons on Sunday mornings at 9:00 help to guide the children in their understanding of the Gospel – all children are welcome!
Check the calendar for the timing of our Annual Easter breakfast and egg hunt: Easter Morning, April 21st – come and celebrate our Risen Christ!
The Church Year – April 2019 – Larry Beardsley
This year Easter falls on April 21st. Since the latest date for Easter is April 25th, Easter is fairly late this year. As we enter April, we find ourselves ending the Season of Lent. Lent is that time when we consider the weight of our sins and the price that the God-Man Jesus paid for our salvation through His crucifixion and resurrection. April 7th is the Fifth Sunday in Lent.
At Zion we use the three-year series of readings and in this series April 14th, Palm Sunday, is called “The Sunday of the Passion”. In our service, the children (of all ages) are invited to join the processional with palm branches and lay them at the altar in recollection of Jesus’ welcome into Jerusalem. But in our readings, rather than dwell on Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, we consider Christ’s betrayal, trial and crucifixion as preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
April 18th is Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday). We celebrate Maundy Thursday with Communion; remembering Christ’s institution of this sacrament.
April 19th, Good Friday, is celebrated at Zion with the evening service formally called “Tenebrae”, The Service of Shadows and Darkness. This is the most solemn and sorrowful service of the Church. Service time is set back an hour to allow it to take place in the gathering dusk. Lighting in the church is suppressed; the celebrants and altar are vested in black. At the end of the service the altar is stripped of its paraments and the Christ candle is extinguished and removed from the altar. The church is in darkness. A loud noise is sounded, symbolizing that Christ has been sealed in the tomb to await the resurrection. Worshipers leave the church in silence and depart without lingering – much as did Christ’s disciples after He was taken down from the cross.Then, on Sunday April 21st, we celebrate The Resurrection of Our Lord! As we gather the church rings with the greeting that dates to the very earliest days of the Church; “He is risen” and the reply “He is risen, indeed – Alleluia”! Our worship is joyful – filled with light, a contrast to the darkness and sorrow of Tenebrae.
Easter Sunday through Sunday June 2nd are the seven Sundays of Easter. The liturgical color for altar, pulpit and lectern paraments and clerical vestments for the Sundays of Easter is white; symbolic of the purity of Christ as well as a reminder to us of the burial cloths that wrapped Him in the tomb. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday, black is appropriate.
Building Committee update: Lance Hoffman
Building update: Everything is set to commence the first week of April. The weather has not permitted the early March start we had hoped for, but the construction companies are confident in an early June completion date! Work is planned to begin on the southeast corner where the sanctuary meets the fellowship hall and then work counter-clockwise around the building going to the front entrance next and then the long western face. They will finish on the back (north & north east side). During the week they will use the parking lot area in front of the Parsonage for staging but should clear that area for Sunday service parking. Wednesday Lenten service and Holy Week could be an issue depending on their work schedule for Maunday Thursday & Good Friday.
Campaign for the Next Generation: Lance Hoffman
Pledge cards are coming in and the total amount pledged continues to rise. We have a way to go to hit our goal of $250,000 however. If you have not returned a pledge yet, please return one soon as the first installment (if you want to pay your pledge that way) will be due the end of May. We have over $215,000 already pledged at the time of this writing, so we are hopeful that the goal of replenishing most of the costs will be met.
Thank you!… to all of you who have already pledged to support the future of Zion Lutheran Church moving forward into the Next Generation.
Stewardship – Becky Beardsley
As we go through this Lenten season, we need to focus on the fact that Christ gave His life to save all of us so that we may go to our heavenly home. God gave us His Son! What a gift to us. God has given us everything we have. Through our words and our actions, we show God how thankful we are. It is not just a certain time of year that we should do this, but every minute of every day. So let us continue to show Him our thanks through our support of Zion Lutheran Church and how we live our lives. Thank you for all you do.
Scrip – Becky Beardsley
The next scrip order will be placed on Monday, April 29. Please return order forms to me no later than Sunday, April 28. Don’t forget to check out more retailers at www.shipscript.com. The order will be here in time for Mother’s Day, graduations, summer weddings. If you have any questions or need any help with your order, don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you for your support to Ladies Aid.
Treasurer’s Report – Larry Beardsley
As we get to the start of April, it appears that I may have survived tax season with just a few “oops” moments that were easily solved. Not only does Caesar want his share, he wants it in the right format!
As the Financial Secretary reports, we are consistently seeing offerings below the amount that we had expected to underwrite our approved budget for the year. If we have missed Sundays this winter, please consider making up those Sundays – not necessarily all at once, but as we are able.Thank you for making the Treasurer’s job easier by your continued faithful and grateful giving.
CALENDAR NOTES /EVENTS FOR APRIL
APRIL 7 – CHURCH COUNCIL MEETS 11:00 AM
APRIL 3 & 10 – Wednesday Lenten Services
Bible Study 6:00-6:45 PM ; Worship Service 7 PM
APRIL 18 – MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE – 7 PM
APRIL 19 – GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE – 8 PM
APRIL 20 – ALTAR GUILD 9 AM
BREAKFAST PREPARATIONS 9 AM
APRIL 21 – EASTER BREAKFAST 9:00 AM
EGG HUNT 9:30 AM WORSHIP 10:00 AM
APRIL 28 – ELDERS MEET – 11:00 AM
“Need a night out? Join the Biblical counseling ministry of Cross Connections on Tuesday, April 30th for our 8th annual Spring Thing Event Fundraiser featuring drama performances by Erasing the Distance, who specialize in bringing the struggles of mental health issues to life on stage and live music from Casual Friday! The event will take place at the PFW International Ballroom from 5:30pm-9:00pm. Tickets are $100 and include hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and entertainment. All ticket sales, sponsorships and donations will go directly toward the Biblical Counseling ministry of Cross Connections and our goal of providing affordable, Biblical counseling. To purchase tickets or to sponsor a table of 8, please call Jen Robb at 260-373-0213, ext. 101. Casual dress attire encouraged! You don’t want to miss this exciting event!”