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Monday, April 10, 2023
Easter Monday

Easter sunrise 2023
Easter sunrise 2023
Click on photo to enlarge

"Risen Indeed!"

Message summary: Today let us faithfully serve the risen Savior. “It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:24). Let us boldly declare to the world that our Lord is risen indeed as we walk daily in the resurrected power of our Lord Jesus Christ!

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“The Lord is risen indeed” (Luke 24:34). “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20). “It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:24).

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

What a joy to gather yesterday with other believers and proclaim our faith in the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. We were both up early as Brooksyne reported for "duty" at 7 am for choir warm-up at our church before they sang at 8:00, 9:30 & 11:00 services. I reported for "duty" at Mount Joy sunrise service at 7 am where I had the privilege of sharing the Resurrection message to the hearty ones who chose to come out that early hour. Afterwards I headed to Lancaster to our church where we sang a lot of songs expressing our faith in the resurrected Christ, both traditional and more recently written. In our sunrise service, the hymn classic "He Lives" was one of the selections and it, like so many songs, has an interesting background.

Alfred AckleyIt was in 1932 that Pastor Alfred Ackley, met a Jewish man to whom he began witnessing in evangelistic meetings, but the man resisted the Christian faith. He asked, “Why should I worship a dead Jew?”

That statement played on Alfred’s mind as he prepared his Easter Sunday message. Rising early to prepare for the day, Alfred flipped on the radio as he shaved and was astonished to hear a famous liberal preacher in New York say, “Good morning – it’s Easter! You know, folks, it really doesn’t make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I am concerned, His body could be as dust in some Palestinian tomb. The main thing is, His truth goes marching on!”

Alfred wanted to fling the radio across the room. “It’s a lie!” he exclaimed. His wife rushed into the bathroom, asking, “Why are you shouting so early in the morning?”

Old-time radio“Didn’t you hear what that good-for-nothing preacher said?” Alfred replied. (Brooksyne's note: Sounds like something Stephen would say when truth is being attacked and, yes, I can hear it when I'm in another part of the house.)

That morning, Ackley preached with great vigor on the reality of Christ’s Resurrection and he did the same at the evening service. But later that night, he was still worked up about his friend’s question and the morning’s radio sermon. “Listen here, Alfred Ackley,” his wife said at last, “It’s time you did that which you can do best. Why don’t you write a song about it and then maybe you’ll feel better?”

Alfred went to his study, opened the Bible, and re-read the Resurrection account from Mark’s Gospel. A thrill went through him, and he began writing the words to “He Lives.” A few minutes later he was at the piano putting it to music, not dreaming it would become one of the church’s most triumphant Easter hymns still sung many times each Easter in churches all over the world. (Story from “Then Sings My Soul” by Robert J. Morgan.)

Consider the words of that liberal preacher, "You know, folks, it really doesn’t make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not." That’s a sentiment many hold today about the resurrection and many other core Christian doctrines. But most certainly it does matter!

Years ago Brooksyne directed an Easter musical that had narration declaring, “It’s not a fable nor a fairy tale but a true accounting of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.” AMEN!

The first daily text is an ancient declaration of faith which can too easily become a mere cliché. "The Lord is risen indeed". In just five words it expresses the bedrock truth of Christian faith, “The Lord is risen indeed” and we, like Ackley, need to feel it with strong conviction deep within our soul. This is especially important as true believers testify of the message of their resurrected Lord to the world.

Some may smile and say regarding the message of Christ, “That is a touching story isn’t it?” Others, like the liberal preacher, think it doesn’t really make any difference whether it’s real or not. (In fact too many in our increasingly postmodern world truth doesn’t matter on many issues. We sure see that in politics.)

Many have "Easter faith" expressed by those who "believe" when they attend church on Easter or other such special holy days. But then they go about their lives ignoring God, at least until the next special church event.

But authentic, saving, faith is life transforming in the lives of believers 365 days a year – for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a genuine, historical event, validated by clear accounts of eyewitnesses. The Scriptures strongly denounce any notion of it being merely a touching story, a fable or a fairy tale. "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

Two early eyewitnesses declared to the disciples, "It is true! The Lord has risen". For forty days after His resurrection, Christ showed Himself and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive (Acts 1:3). And many years later a mightily transformed Peter reminds us that, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

Today let us faithfully serve the risen Savior.
“It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:24). Let us boldly declare to the world that our Lord is risen indeed as we walk daily in the resurrected power of our Lord Jesus Christ!

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way
He lives, He lives, Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your Word declares that Jesus rose from the dead. The eyewitnesses to this glorious miracle were initially in disbelief but when they were face to face with Jesus they were filled with jubilant hope. It is because You live that we live also. You’ve put our sin nature to death and raised our spiritual nature to life. And one day our physical nature will give way to death but because of Your power over the grave we will be resurrected to eternal life. Praise be to God, the Lord is risen indeed! Amen.

One more reflection: For many, many years I have appreciated the story of a young child who believed in the Lord Jesus. A proud and ungodly professor who said to her: “My dear little girl, you don’t know whom you believe in. There have been many christs. In which of them do you believe?” “I know which one I believe in,” replied the child. “I believe in the Christ who rose from the dead!”

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"He Lives"   Click to listen on YouTube   David Phelps

"All Hail King Jesus"   Click to listen on YouTubeClick to listen on YouTube  Harborside Music   This was our opening song yesterday at Calvary Church.

Easter sunrise service
Preaching at the community Easter sunrise service. It began a bit chilly in the the low 30's but the sun warmed us up as the service progressed.

Calvary Church Easter choir
Choir and orchestra at Calvary Church yesterday.
Click on photo to enlarge
Good Friday service  Click to watch on YouTube
Easter service  Click to watch on YouTube

(At the time today's message is posted these videos still have the introductory "live stream" material at the beginning thus I cannot link to specific songs since they later clip this material.)

African empty tomb scene
Moses and Jackline, two readers from South Sudan, Africa send us Easter greetings and this depiction of the scene at the empty tomb. Consider this scene in Revelation, "And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9,10)

Though Brooksyne sang with the choir in all three services, I attended only the 9:30 service where Brooksyne joined Ester and me after the choir led in worship. Sitting in front of us was a young family with four well-behaved boys all dressed identically, which especially caught our attention. In our conversation after the service we learned that they are recent Ukrainian refugees.

Old Windmill Farm
On Saturday we got a call from the Lapps to be sure and stop over on Easter Sunday so we headed over to the Old Windmill Farm after church to visit the family. Jesse had placed this tractor across the road to indicate the farm was closed to tourists! They had a very busy day Saturday and Jesse estimates they had some 500 farm visitors, surely a record attendance! They also expect to be very busy today with many Orthodox Jews coming down to Lancaster County from new York City for the Passover holiday. It's a beautiful day here and we expect temps near 70.

baby goats
These baby goats were born on Friday. Visitors to the farm today will surely remember them as a highlight of their visit!
Click on photo to enlarge

Robert J. Morgan 11/30/14
Today we quoted a story from Robert J. Morgan's hymn background book, "Then Sings My Soul". He's a prolific writer that we have enjoyed for many years. We met him at The Donelson Fellowship Church where he has pastored over 35 years, near Nashville Tennessee.

Easter choir 2015
One year Brooksyne shared the story of "He Lives" when she was leading the congregation.  Ester took this was photo when she was emphasizing a point in the hymn story and it was likely this part of the story: "Didn't you hear what that good-for-nothing preacher said? It's a lie!" he exclaimed.

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