HOPE for the HAPLESS

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


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Year after Year

Luther once wrote: “In time one becomes tired of other hymns, but ‘Christ ist erstranden’ one can sing year after year.”  Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands was a hymn that he loved dearly and referred to often.  And why wouldn’t he?

Rarely will you find a hymn with a more encompassing, and comforting theology.  Here our true Paschal Lamb we truly see.  Here the story of our salvation, and God’s continued grace is played out before our eyes and in our ears.  In these few short stanzas is contained all that makes this Passiontide so important for you and me.  In these few short stanzas is the whole of the theology of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday … of the Cross and the Glory … of Suffering and Joy … of Death and Life.

So won’t you join me in singing (praying) it again this year? Even year after year, I guarantee you will not tire of it!

May God bless you and your loved ones in this most holy season as you remember that the victory remains with life, the reign of death is ended!

Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands And brings us life from heaven.
Therefore let us joyful be And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of alleluia! Alleluia!

No son of man could conquer death, Such ruin sin had wrought us.
No innocence was found on earth, And therefore death had brought us
Into bondage from of old And ever grew more strong and bold
And held us as its captive. Alleluia!

Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, came down, His people to deliver;
Destroying sin, He took the crown From death’s pale brow forever:
Stripped of pow’r, no more it reigns; An empty form alone remains;
Its sting is lost forever. Alleluia!

It was a strange and dreadful strife When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life, The reign of death was ended.
Holy Scripture plainly saith That death is swallowed up by death,
Its sting is lost forever. Alleluia!

Here our true Paschal Lamb we see, Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursèd tree — So strong His love—to save us.
See, His blood now marks our door; Faith points to it; death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us. Alleluia!

So let us keep the festival To which the Lord invites us;
Christ is Himself the joy of all, The sun that warms and lights us.
Now His grace to us imparts Eternal sunshine to our hearts;
The night of sin is ended. Alleluia!

Then let us feast this Easter Day On Christ, the bread of heaven;
The Word of grace has purged away The old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed; He is our meat and drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other! Alleluia!

Text and Music: Public domain

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Today’s fun …

In the spirit of one of those lists of awesome things here is my day of travel in just a few of the fun things I got to enjoy.

1. Pizza at the TO airport, while listening to Christian Music playing in the food court. (Didn’t care for the music too much, but the novelty factor was cool)

2. Seeing no less than TWO separate grown men “rocking out” to their Ipods, regardless of those around them. (One of them was doing it in the food court while the Christian music was playing for everyone else to hear … too funny!)

3. Sitting directly behind the only other LCC member (going to Winnipeg for this meeting) on the packed flight. What a pleasure getting to know Wally, and the shuttle bus driver.

4. Finding a “Lost Book” by one of my favourite authors in a colourful little second-hand book store.

5. Being buzzed by the Winnipeg Police Helicopter no less than 12 times as it kept circling the neighbourhood I was walking through.

5. Being almost sure that it wasn’t me they were looking for … this time …

6. Seeing a birthday party for 15 honest-to-goodness Justin Biebers!

7. Talking to Trish and the Kids (and listening to them speaking so nicely to me, only to get off the phone and start yelling at one another in the background – the children not the mother!)

8. Seeing my game nearly ready to be published professionally. Only a couple of little things still to do. This is finally getting real.

9. Seeing Peter Jackson’s first video on the start of filming for the Hobbit. Thanks to Alex and Kelly for passing it on.

And just so you don’t get too jealous over what an awesomely fun day I had, console yourself that all of this comes at the expense of being closeted away all  day tomorrow in a resolutions committee meeting.

But who knows, that could be pretty fun too …


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Everyday Fools

Here is an uncredited article that ran on the Canadian Lutheran Online site … so I will claim it as my own.

(It really is mine, they just changed the picture to protect my identity!)  Even though I am including it below, I would encourage you to read it on the original site, as it is not only that good … but there is also loads of great content over there that you don’t want to miss.

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” So wrote the ever-observant Mark Twain with his trademark wit and wisdom … and more than a grain of truth.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in the Western world on April 1 every year. It’s a day marked by jokes and hoaxes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbours, work associates, etc. It can be a lot of fun—depending on which side of the joke you find yourself. I’ve always thought a day devoted to fools and foolishness is great as long as I am not the fool in question.

I can’t remember how many April Fools’ Days I spent as a child hunkered down and hoping not to get “caught” by someone’s prank or seen as foolish. Whether you are pranked or not, it’s no way to spend a beautiful spring day much less your whole life. Yet sadly, many Christians do just that day in and day out.

“It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and leave no doubt” (Mark Twain).

How many Christians firmly shut their mouths and hope to get by without being noticed? How many guard their tongues and lives in case they say or do the wrong thing and be thought of as foolish? And why? Because, for many, what Christians have to say and the hope in which we live is simply foolish! Have no doubt about that.

You, dear Christian, put your trust in

  • a God whose glory was the cross.
  • A Saviour who suffers.
  • A God whose power is made perfect in weakness.
  • The author of Life who died and was buried.
  • An omnipotent being who binds Himself to words, water, and bread and wine.
  • A Lord and King who doesn’t reward works or merit, but repentance and trust.
  • A God who calls to Himself not the fortunate or famous, but the fallible and foolish.

Such things can only seem foolish to others, but they are no joke.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).

“Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed” (Mark Twain)

On this April Fools’ Day, lift up your head and give thanks for foolishness of God by which you are saved.

Rejoice in the Divine prank God pulled on sin, death, and the devil on the first Good Friday. Without it we would be lost.

Join in the joke by which death is swallowed up by life, and Satan, who once made damnable fools of us by a tree in a garden, is overcome by the tree of the cross.

Gladly count yourself as a fool in Christ, not just today, but every day.

As Mark Twain said: “Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God’s fool.”