From The Pastor’s Desk – April 2019

March 29, 2019

April is always a wonderful month.  The temperature is warm, the birds return, and the buds and flowers start to burst forth.  There is a palpable atmosphere of vibrancy and life.  It is no surprise that on a spiritual level there is also a similar resurgence of life, and it all has to do with the miraculous events of the Lord’s life that occurred during Easter about 2,000 years ago now!

Every year to celebrate, we offer three special services at the Carmel New Church.  Palm Sunday comes first, when we carry up palm fronds to the chancel in procession, and call to mind the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem where He was hailed as a King.  Next comes the special adult Holy Supper vespers service on Thursday evening when we reflect upon the Lord’s last supper with His disciples, His betrayal by Judas, His trial by Pontius Pilate, and His crucifixion and passion on the cross.  Lastly, on Easter Sunday, we have a family service to joyfully celebrate the Lord’s complete victory over the hells, His resurrection from the tomb, and His glorification by bringing floral and food offerings forward to the chancel.

There are far too many aspects here to cover in detail in this short space, but I’d invite you to reflect upon this passage:   “From pure love, and thus from pure mercy,  the Lord assumed the Human, and endured the most grievous temptations, and finally the passion of the cross, so that He might save the human race….  Mercy is the Divine love toward those who are set fast in a state of misery.  The Lord underwent the most grievous temptations, and thereby reduced heaven and hell into order, and He fought from Divine love to save those who receive Him with love and faith” (AC 9528).

Two things struck me about this passage.  First, is that from pure love and mercy towards our state of misery, the Lord allowed Himself to suffer intense pain and degradation.  The second, is why He did it – to save the human race – that includes you and me!

Now the last thing I noticed is that He fought from His Divine love to save those who would receive Him with love and faith.  We were not all automatically saved by His crucifixion and resurrection, but we were given the freedom to BE saved by receiving Him in love and faith.

So how do we receive Him in love and faith?  Quite simply, obey the commandments and shun evils as sins against God. “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21).  The Lord underwent the most grievous temptations for us. Shouldn’t we be willing to take up the fight against the hells as well?  If we do so, then we will allow the Lord to work His redemption in our lives.  “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17).

Rev. Brad Heinrichs

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