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April 9, 2012

"He Is Risen" banner

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"He Is Risen Indeed!"

"The Lord is risen indeed" (Luke 24:34).

A customary greeting in many churches on resurrection morning is for the worship leader or pastor to say, "He is risen" and the people heartily respond, "He is risen indeed!" We joyfully did so again yesterday as our pastor led us in this traditional Easter greeting as the service began. What a joy to sing the great songs of our faith and hear a message proclaiming a risen Lord.

The word "indeed" is significant in the daily text as well as in the affirmation made yesterday by hundreds of millions of Christ-followers all over the world.

To illustrate this I want to share a story that took place seven years ago; my Mom's final Easter here on earth. We traveled up to the Lehigh Valley in Eastern Pennsylvania for our family Easter meal with my brother and his family. My 84 year old mother Georgia Mae, who was living with us at the time, recently had knee replacement surgery followed by a lengthy period of rehabilitation, so this was an extra special trip for her.

After we arrived and had our customary greetings, my brother gathered us altogether and said, "I have Genelle (our sister) on the phone. Let's sing Happy Anniversary to her and Cesar." (She and her husband, Cesar, who lived in Miami Florida at the time, were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.)

Mom with Genelle, Easter 2005We all began to sing heartily as we mentally pictured the two of them at the other side of the telephone connection in Miami. But as we got to the line where we personalize the song, "Happy Anniversary Genelle and Cesar", they walked right into the room! We were totally surprised. With hands over her mouth Brooksyne screeched. Mom was somewhat in shock, but after it fully sunk in, she with very damp eyes, hugged my sister over and over.

As I saw them come in I recall the way my mind worked as it assimilated the information. I conceptually had them in Miami and for a couple of seconds my brain circuits were all messed up. My surprised expression was not verbal, but surely my eyes bugged out as my mind adjusted to a reality so different than my assumption.

Magnify that experience a hundred fold and I believe some of this same dynamic is at work with the early resurrected appearances of our Savior. The disciples seemed so confused; they were startled and frightened. They doubted since it was too incredulous to believe and they thought they saw a ghost.

Though there was a period of disbelief, reality eventually sunk in. This actually ended after Jesus appeared in the midst of the disciples with Thomas who voiced what others were probably wondering. But they all came to believe and live out their lives proclaiming the risen Lord.

The phrase "He is risen indeed" is a tremendous statement of faith. It is actually the eye-witness testimony of the two disciples whom the Lord met on the road to Emmaus. (This wonderful story is found in Luke 24:13-35.)

We tend to use the traditional rendering, "The Lord is risen indeed." The word for "indeed" is translated "true" or "really" in many other versions. The actual underlying Greek word is "ontos" (those who studied philosophy may recall the word "ontology", which is the study of existence and reality).

"He is risen indeed" is an ancient declaration of faith that can too easily become a mere cliché on Easter. However these four words express the very bedrock of Christian faith. The literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a genuine, historical event validated by many eyewitnesses. It is the core doctrine of the faith once for all entrusted to the church of Jesus Christ for all time.

Today, we join hundreds of millions of fellow believers around the world in declaring, "He is risen indeed!" 

I serve a risen Savior,
He's in the world today,
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, how our hearts rejoice as we celebrate and honor the historic fact that death has lost its sting and the devil’s power over it has been destroyed. We no longer have to fear death since it is now a covenant blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death has been swallowed up in victory so that there is no dread or fear associated with death for the believer. Death is but a moment but the eternity of glory is unending. Thank You for providing us passage through the gates of heaven through our Lord’s sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.

Note from Brooksyne:  After the experience with the "in person phone call" I feel more personally how the disciples might have responded to seeing the resurrected Christ. Their last sight of Jesus was that of a brutally beaten, lifeless form being taken from the cross to be buried in a tomb sealed off by a huge stone and guarded by soldiers.  Now, in their very presence, they see a fully restored body.  Defeat turned into victory – it was too good to be true!  But, praise be to God, it is true!!  I like a quote from one of my favorite devotional writers, Henry Gariepy:

"Our gospel ends
not with a Corpse, but with a Conqueror,
not with a Tomb, but with a Triumph,
not with a Victim of death, but with a Victor over it!"

All this week our messages will be on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as taught in each of the major sections of the New Testament.
Today's message was of course from the Gospel accounts.
Tomorrow we will examine how the resurrection was a core element in apostolic preaching in Acts,
Wednesday and Thursday the epistles
Friday the Book of Revelation.

Easter Sunflower cake 2012
Brooksyne and Ester made this "Sunflower Cake", an easy idea by Taste of Home.  Just frost a double layer cake with chocolate frosting.  Make a circle and fill in with chocolate chips. Place peepers around the chocolate chip circle. Peeper marshmallows are half price or less by now or perhaps your children collected more than they can eat and you can use them  on a sunflower cake.

Robin's nest in North Carolina
My sister and her husband now live in North Carolina.  She sent me this photo of a nest constructed by a resourceful robin on a wall decoration on her home.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

We will place the same songs up all through the week on the resurrection and perhaps add some!

"Resurrection Song"  Video  Second Chapter of Acts

"See What A Morning"
 Video  Getty/Towend team  I (Brooksyne) really appreciate the Biblical resurrection account being recounted in such detail and colorfully presented in this song by the Gettys and Stuart Towend, one of 12 hymns they collaborated on, based on the core beliefs as articulated in the Apostle's Creed.

"I'll Rise Again"
 Video  Dallas Holm

"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today"  Video  

"Christ Arose"  Video  Daniel Thornton

"Because He Lives"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"He Arose"  Video  Stone Church choir

"He's Alive"  Video  Don Francisco

"He Gave His Life"  Video  Vocal Union 

"There Never Was A Pulpit Like The Cross"  Video  Vocal Union  Brooksyne heard this on the radio Saturday and called my attention to it.  It's a southern gospel acapella rendering of a powerful message within the song.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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