The title of this week’s column is the reply a Christian would give after another Christian says, “The Lord is risen!” on an Easter Sunday or on any of the following 39 days of the Easter season. Most of us Christians will confess that as Ascension Day nears, excitement may wear off, but Easter 2020 may be an exception. That’s because it has been so long for us since we gathered in our respective church sanctuaries in worship of our Lord. For shut-ins and those who for physical reasons cannot attend church, televised ministries can be helpful—if their theology is Biblical—but prayerfully they have a pastor who delivers Word and Sacrament to their homes on a regular basis. For the rest of us who are able go to church in normal times, watching other people worship will not suffice, albeit in these days of the threatening virus, it’ll have to do.
Survival is possible today because the Christian, at least most of us here, have the Holy Bible available to us, and maybe our congregation has a pastor with the technology who can deliver his sermons via internet, and that helps a lot. Some pastors are even delivering the Sacrament of the Altar—Holy Communion—yet not from the altar but in parking lots using some innovative methods that are following health guidelines but are not entirely satisfying.
But the Holy Supper is not a drive-through experience. There’s corporate confession (of sins) and absolution (announcement of forgiveness) and brothers and sisters in Christ are there, along with historic hymns, accompanied by beautiful organ music, reminiscent of heaven with God’s saints at our Lord’s feet, as recorded in Revelation 7:9-17. For many Christians, that picture is carried along in their hearts as we live in this fallen world and repent daily of our fallen nature which wars against our Creator but saving faith given to all who believe in Christ as He is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. It is through those Scriptures which our Lord speaks to us through His appointed prophets, apostles, and disciples. We do hunger and thirst because, as our Lord said, “This is my body…my blood…for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-30)
Every crisis we face is accompanied by the same question: how could a good God allow such tragedies? Often accusatory, such questions are based on the false assumption that we rebellious sinners deserve good things from God. Psalm 16 is a good place for personal daily confession: “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’” The song continues, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” St. Paul picks up here from Colossians 3:1-4 with “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 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.” That’s only because it is He who holds our lot. Gloria Deo—Glory to God