Hallelujah

hallelujah-music

Easter is my favorite day of the year. For me, it is better than Christmas…as it should be.

Yesterday, my church closed out the glorious Easter service with Handel’s Hallelujah chorus from his fantastic oratorio “Messiah”. What is interesting about this musical piece is Handel’s unrelenting fervor in composing this masterpiece. Handel was nearly broke, old, a stroke survivor and out of favor with the musical community. This did not discourage him. Handel assembled something wonderful which became a classic that lives on in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. It is quite simple magnificent.

It is said that after Handel completed the Hallelujah chorus, his assistant found him in tears saying “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God”. (http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/bibleandculture/author/bwitherington/) Handel’s wild hair flying about his face and the tears in his eyes were the foreshadowing of a song that would make even King’s stand in awe.

That’s Easter. It’s beyond our ability to put into words really. It’s so outrageous and so divine that to reduce down to mere words is almost impossible.

Music lifts the soul and is a promised part of heaven. Something tells me that the Hallelujah chorus is just the beginning.

He is Risen.

He is Risen Indeed…Hallelujah.

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: Revelation 14:2,3

Palm Sunday in September?

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Retailers have discovered the benefits of having a Christmas in July marketing promotion so count me as pleased when the Dean of our Cathedral decided to study Palm Sunday in September. What a great idea.

I love Palm Sunday where we remember Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It allows us to forget, for a moment, that this joy leads to sorrow. But, and pardon the expression, it is also the ultimate comeback story.

This particular Sunday in the church calendar sometimes seems like a warmup for Easter. Palm Sunday is an important day. It is shared in all four gospels but it is also significant for the mere fact that Jesus allows people to recognize His fulfillment of prophecy.

Sadly, these same people will be calling for His crucifixion in a few short days. It all went very wrong but in the end it was so right…for us.

What a sacrifice. What a King.

Hosannah in September and forever!

Ascension Day

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Today is Ascension Day. A day to remember when Jesus was taken up into heaven a mere forty days after He rose from the grave.

I don’t know why it isn’t more widely revered. It doesn’t seem to be celebrated with the same importance as the Resurrection, death and birth of Jesus Christ. It should matter though and it should matter big time. It’s yet another major promise fulfilled.

When we think of this day, most of us go back to the Nicene Creed:

“And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.”

I know this day is important to the “church” but it is important for us as well. We need to remember that Jesus will come again and His Kingdom shall have no end. Jesus is the Lord of Lords, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace and so much more.

It’s good to remember and celebrate Ascension Day but it is also imperative that we reflect on God’s love for us, His fulfilled promises and for the gift of His only begotten Son.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow…

 

A borrowed tomb.

Empty tomb

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Isaiah 53:9

There is a great deal written about the death and resurrection but not as many expound upon the burial of Jesus Christ.

It was all foretold by Isaiah in the scripture above and fulfilled prophecy. It is an important part of the story.

Typically, non-Jewish criminals who had been crucified were left on the cross. According to Jewish custom, Jesus should have been moved to a poor and lowly gravesite out of the area.

And when evening was come, there came a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Matthew 27:57-58

Jesus’s body was taken away by rich believers and placed in a tomb (empty and never used) reserved for the wealthy. Why did Pilate allow this? Historians believe it is because Joseph of Arimathaea was a rich man of influence. But some also surmise that Pilate allowed it in order to ensure that the tomb was sealed and secure. I believe Joseph knew Jesus was the King of Kings. He knew that Jesus earthly body should rest, for a while, with the wealthy.

Pilate’s plan failed. You can’t stop the Lord of Lords. No grave can stop Jesus. The stone is rolled away. Hallelujah!

So much of what we learn through this final earthly walk with Christ was the fulfillment of prophecy. Of course, His whole life was the same.

I look forward to the stone being rolled away. I look forward to the resurrection and the life to come. Bring on Easter Sunday!

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

Are you ready?

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I’m finishing up my list of things “to do”. New outfit? Check. New shoes? Check. Fresh hair cut? Check. It’s almost Easter and I’m ready.

 

Growing up some of my best memories of Easter are the pageantry, the new clothes and shoes and the delicious celebration meal after Sunday services complete with bunny cake.

 

Dying eggs for the Easter hunt, putting up colorful ribbons and listening to the choral practice were all a small part of the Easter preparation. The anticipation was astounding. As a child, I knew it was a special season of worship and I was never disappointed.

 

I’m jumping ahead for this one day as I prepare for the difficult days of remembrance. Today, I want to remember the preparation for the celebration. After this, I HAVE to remember the time of reflection and grief. I am going to walk through the tough times to get to the good news.

 

As an adult, I still get excited at Easter. It now ranks as my favorite time of the year. This is as it should be. It is a never-ending reminder that I worship a risen Savior. The beautiful flowers, streamers and colors of Easter Sunday herald us all into a time of great joy. So, put on your bonnet, put on your new shoes and worship Jesus. Look your best for the King.

 

He is Risen…He is Risen indeed.