Easter Thoughts 2015

“In the resurrection, Christ has turned all of our sunsets into dawns.”  – St. Clement of Alexandria

“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf of springtime.”  – Martin Luther

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”  – The Gospel of St. Matthew 28:1-5

Gospel Thought: Laughter, Music, Heaven and Mocking the devil

Over the course of my Christian life, I have discovered that there is always something to worry about.  Worries, like weeds, choke all of the joy out of life.  Idols of “control” and “manipulation” possess our thoughts.  We stress out about our government, our family, our finances…it really doesn’t take much to get us going.  We put ourselves in a prison of worry, while the evil one, the devil (I refuse to capitalize his name – he’s not worth it), does all that he can to rattle our cage.  A couple of days ago I compiled a few quotes that are helping me to regain some perspective.  I sense the Holy Spirit reminding me that one of the ways that I should hide myself in the gospel is by enjoying the life that Christ has given me.  Out of a sense of worshiping Christ, I need to listen to good music, laugh with good friends, and give my life in service to others.  As theologian Eugene Peterson puts it, I need to learn “to care, and not to care.”  Below are few of the quotes I’ve read that are helping me with this endeavor.  Martin Luther has been especially helpful.

  • The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.  — Martin Luther
  • If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.  –Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • It is pleasing to God whenever you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.  –Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.   –Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • Nothing on earth is so well-suited to make the sad merry and the merry sad, to give courage to the despairing and to make the proud humble, to lessen envy and hate, as music.  — Martin Luther
  • Music makes people kinder, gentler, more staid and reasonable. The devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the word of God.  — Martin Luther
  • Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. — (Luke 6:21)
  • “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven”  — (Luke 6:23).
  • C. S. Lewis depicts laughter in Heaven when his characters attend the Great Reunion on the New Narnia: “And there was greeting and kissing and handshaking and old jokes revived (you’ve no idea how good an old joke sounds after you take it out again after a rest of five or six hundred years).”  — C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
  • Father, today, right now, feeling as I do, with deadlines and health issues and friends who are hurting and world events in flux, I need to hear your promise that in Heaven we will laugh. I picture Jesus, laughing with his disciples, and I can’t wait to hear his laugh in person. I look forward to laughing with him at banquets and on walks and in conversations. Thank you for the gift of laughter. Thank you that you invented it. Thank you that we do not have to wait until Heaven to laugh, but that laughter can carry us on its back through difficult times. I think of the release that laughter brings at memorial services for people who have followed you faithfully, people who are already laughing on death’s other side. I have enjoyed rich laughter, mingled with tears, with friends and family in difficult days. When we weep now, Father, remind us that in Heaven, partaking of your joy, we will laugh.  — Randy Alcorn
  • In early Christian Greek tradition, Easter Monday was a “day of joy and laughter,” called Bright Monday. Only the followers of Christ can laugh in the face of persecution and death because they know that their present trouble isn’t all there is. They know that someday they will laugh.  — Randy Alcorn

Simul Justus et Peccator – At the same time a Saint and a Sinner

This is a picture that Callie drew representing the idea of "Simul Justus et Peccator". She did the drawing and we both did the color.

“Simul Justus et Peccator” is a phrase coined by Martin Luther that may be translated: “Righteous and at the same time a Sinner.”   In making this statement Luther was making the point that every believer, in this life, is still in conflict with the sinful the nature.  Therefore, our lives are impacted by the contaminating influence of sin.  The Westminster Confession unpacks the point further:

“(Our good works) are good, in that they proceed from God’s Spirit; but as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.”

“Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, also have good works that are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking at them through his Son, is pleased to accept and reward those works which are sincere, although they are accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.” (The Westminster Confession of Faith, “Of Good Works,” Chapter XVI, v, vi.)

Therefore, in this life, Christians will always be – “Simul Justus et Peccator – At the same time a Saint and a Sinner.”