April 26 Worship Service

Our April 26 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook.

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The Sunday 8 am service on May 3 is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.

Sermon April 26 Third Sunday after Easter
Acts 2:14a, 36-41 Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
1 Peter 1:17-23 Luke 24:13-35

The Gospel lesson takes place later in the day of the Resurrection, but we’ve switched to Luke’s Gospel from John’s for this story. Jesus has already appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. The disciples have already checked out the tomb, and found it empty. It doesn’t seem that Jesus has appeared to the disciples in the locked room yet, but either way, poor Thomas will still have to wait another week before he believes.

Our story, two disciples are walking to the village of Emmaus, a seven mile walk. One is named Cleopas, the other may be the Simon mentioned at the end. It is hard to tell who is speaking at that point. Nor can we tell if they are referring to Simon Peter, or the other Simon (the Zealot). Simon is a pretty common name. Maybe they are going home following the Passover, or maybe they had to wait until after the Sabbath was over to start their journey (more likely). The one thing we do know is that they are confused about the events of the week, including this rumor that Jesus is risen, and we can’t blame them. It would be a long, boring and lonely walk, alone by themselves. And, it will probably take them about 2 ½ to 3 hours at a normal pace. No doubt, that is how many people feel now as they must sit and “Shelter at Home.” There isn’t much to do, or talk about. Our lives have changed radically, and we need time to adjust. I have notice in these last several weeks that many people are doing a lot more yardwork. So am I. Others are cleaning their homes more. Some are reading more. Anything to keep our minds occupied in the face of the Pandemic events. These two, whose hopes have been crushed, they are discussing the events of Holy Week as they walk. And what happens, Jesus joins them. But, they don’t recognize Him. One thing which runs through the post-resurrection appearances, Jesus is changed. They don’t recognize Him until He wants to be recognized. Why? We don’t know. But, it appears that He wants to have a bit of fun with these two. It is often hard to pass up the opportunity. Sometimes, it is just too easy.

What we do hold in the Church is that following the Resurrection, Jesus is no longer limited by His mortal human body and its nature. He has been changed. He still has His human nature, but now His divine nature is more apparent. Indeed, it is one of the questions which the Ancient Church was seeking to answer in the Creeds. Is Jesus human, or is He divine? Yes. Okay, how much of each? How do the two natures affect each other? He is 100% human and 100% divine. In Christ, the two natures, human and divine are inseparable, and inform each other. I know, it sounds complicated. And, it is. Before the Resurrection, Christ’s divine nature was more hidden within the human. Post-Resurrection, the human nature is more hidden within the divine. How limited? Most people don’t even think about Jesus’ human nature now! After the Resurrection, His divinity is no longer limited by the finitude of mortality. Translations: Jesus can do things which we can’t, and often does.

He asks the disciples what they are talking about. They give him a description of the events of Holy Week. They are disappointed. The crucifixion has dashed their hopes. Confused now, on the third day, by the stories of Mary Magdalene and the other women – remember, when the women tell the disciples the news of the resurrection, they “regarded it as an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” Now, they are wondering what to think.

Now Jesus jumps in. He “opens the Scriptures for them” running through Moses and the prophets. He explains to them the need for the Messiah to die, and be raised. He probably spent a lot of time on the four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah. He explained, no doubt, portions of the OT which had long gone misunderstood, like the four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah, as well as others. These things had to be done, to fulfill the Law, to free us from its power, to work salvation for all of the faithful.

As they approach their destination, Jesus wants to walk on, but they convince Him to stay and sup with them. Then their eyes are opened to whom Jesus really is, as He blesses and breaks the bread. Then they get it. “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking to us on the road, while He was opening the scriptures to us?” Now, He has opened their eyes to the truth of His resurrection.

How do we most fully meet Christ? It is still in His Word and in His Holy Supper. His body and His blood, the fullest physical incarnation of Christ which we have at the present, until He returns. Then Jesus disappears from their midst (that change again). But, now, they understand, they know, and they believe. They get up right then to hurry back to Jerusalem to tell the others. They go to reinforce what the women had said. They themselves have seen and spoken with the risen Christ. Their hopes are restored. Christ is alive! He is raised! And to those in faith, we are raised with Him.
Pastor Rose

November 2019

“You have raised up for us a mighty Savior.” Luke 1:69

Dear Redeemer Family:
In this final month of the church year, we are presented with Luke’s understanding of ends and beginnings, of death and resurrection, thus providing us with the opportunity to think anew about life together under the cross and empty tomb of Jesus.

Lutherans hold a particular understanding of our endings and beginnings. Martin Luther understood there to be two kinds of death, a little death and a big death. The big death is what occurs in the waters of baptism when the sinful self and the power of sin, death and the devil are drowned; they no longer have the last word or ultimate power over us. Because Jesus has died and is raised; and because in the waters of baptism we are joined to him in his death and resurrection; we face the end with anticipation. Though we are sinful, in the waters of baptism we are also given a new identity:
a saint, a child of God, one forgiven, loved, saved through the love of God in Jesus Christ. There is reason to celebrate the end; there, in the end, is a new beginning. There, in the end, is Jesus.

The little death, for Luther, is the physical death, when there is no more breath in our bodies or life in our limbs. This death tends to be the one that engenders fear, the one in which tears are shed for what is lost, for what will no longer be. When a physical death comes decades before it should have, those left to mourn experience a mix of emotions. While, on the one hand, the faithful know that this dear person was a child of God, this child of God is no longer physically here with us. For that we grieve. Years ago, in his book The Denial of Death, (it won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1979) Ernest Becker emphasized the cultural fascination not with death itself but with denying its presence, its impact on our lives. Those whose loved ones have died, or are facing an untimely diagnosis of their own that will eventually lead to death, know the struggle of the end in Christian faith. Though resurrection is a real and present reality, the sting of the end is no less real.

At the end of this season, Christ the King, we find Jesus on the cross between two who are dying. In pain and alone, those on either side of him engage him in conversation. On the one side is someone who wants Jesus to avoid the cross and to help them avoid the cross as well. (The denial of death, indeed!) On the other side is someone who recognizes the situation for what it is and realizes Jesus for who he is. The person asks Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

This is an honest cry, a lament, in which despair and hope are hurled at Jesus on the cross. There is no sugarcoating the situation of the person hanging next to Jesus; while the criminal recognizes that “we are getting what we deserve,” there is, somewhere from within, a deep and abiding sense of hope. In view of Jesus on the cross, all the denials end; all that is left is hope. “Today you will be with me in Paradise” is the reply he receives. No denial, but tremendous words of hope.

In Christ, Pastor Rose