Sunday, April 27, 2014

Homily for Quasimodo Geniti - The Second Sunday of Easter

John 20:19-31; 1 John 5:4-10; Ezekiel 37:1-14

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Now what? So what? What does the fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead mean for your life today and tomorrow and until there are no more tomorrows? How then should you live? What should you do? Well, in some ways, nothing has changed, for, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. But, then, on the other hand, everything has changed, for the Word of God has become flesh, has suffered unto death, and has been raised from the dead in the flesh. So, while the Word of God has always been the life of men, no longer is death the end of man, neither in the flesh nor in the spirit.
And, you already share in the first fruits of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, for you have been baptized into His death and you have been raised in His resurrection. All that properly belongs to Him, righteousness, Sonship, eternal life, is given to you as a free gift of God’s grace through baptism and faith. Through baptism into Jesus’ death, your sinful nature and all your guilt has been crucified, died, and buried – it is finished! And, through baptism into Jesus’ resurrection, your new man has been raised with Christ to life to serve and to praise the LORD freely without compulsion of the Law. Yet, this is only the first fruits, for there will be the death and resurrection of your body in time to come. And, that is important to remember and to not discount. For, God created Adam as a flesh and spirit man. And, as the flesh alone is not a man, so the spirit alone is not a man. However, when Adam sinned, he introduced death into the world, resulting in that Adam, and all his descendents thereafter, would die in body and in spirit. Yet, while all men experience, in time, the death of the body, because of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the death of the spirit need not be experienced at all. Further, because of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the death of the body is not the end of the body, but your flesh and blood body will be raised when Christ returns on the Last Day.
Ezekiel was given a preview of the Last Day when the LORD lead the prophet by His Spirit to view the end result of Adam’s sinful rebellion, death, as his descendents laid dead in a valley of exceedingly dry bones. The LORD commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, to proclaim the Word of the LORD to the dead, dry bones. Ezekiel did so, and the bones came together, bone to bone, and sinews and flesh covered them, yet still there was not the breath of life in them. Then the LORD commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath. Ezekiel did so, and the breath came into the flesh and blood bodies and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then the LORD commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the, now living, men yet again saying, “Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people.” “And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live.” Thus, in the same way in which the LORD’s creation of man was not complete until the LORD breathed His Spirit into the man’s nostrils and Adam became a living being, so too the LORD has promised both to raise your flesh and blood body and to revitalize you with His life-giving Spirit.
Indeed, in order to keep His promise, it was necessary that God become a man. In the Incarnation, the Word of God assumed the flesh of man from the virgin Mary and became the New Adam. Jesus, the Second Adam, bore not the corruption of sin common to all men generated of man’s seed, for He was conceived, not by a man, but by God. Thus, already, in the Incarnation, the flesh of man experienced redemption as the LORD assumed it and it was not destroyed, just as the burning bush that Moses beheld contained the Angel of the LORD in fire and yet was not consumed. So it was that Jesus’ obedience under the Law counted as man’s obedience. But, still, there was the matter of the death of the body to be dealt with, so the God-Man Jesus submitted to suffering, crucifixion, and death as His Father willed, as a man, the innocent for the guilty, and then God raised Him from the dead. Why did God raise Jesus from the dead? He raised Jesus from the dead because He was innocent. He raised Him from the dead because He was obedient. He raised Him from the dead because He laid down His life willingly in love for God and for you His neighbor. And, God raised Jesus from the dead as the first fruits of those who fall asleep; for, now, that is what death is like, sleep from which you will awaken, that you may believe and live now in freedom and love and forever in eternity. Jesus’ death was because of who you were, but Jesus’ resurrection is to demonstrate who you are! You are sons and daughters of God in Him and through Him, and what you will be has not yet appeared; But when He appears, you will be like Him, for you will see Him as He is.
So, Thomas wasn’t really so much of a doubter as he has come to be called, but what Thomas was looking for was the whole man Jesus. Show me the body! That’s what Thomas needed to see. Thomas was no Gnostic; He wasn’t going to be satisfied with a disembodied spirit for a Lord. “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails,” he said, “and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.” Unless I can see Jesus with my eyes, and touch Him with my hands; unless I behold Him in flesh and blood and spirit, I will not, I cannot believe. If Jesus’ body and spirit are not reunited and alive, then death is not undone, my faith is futile and I am still in my sin, I am dead. Now, surely you can relate to Thomas. I know I can! The motto of our skeptical and cynical age is “I’ll believe it when I see it.” The other disciples had the advantage of having Jesus appear before them and show them His wounds, and His presence amongst them brought them peace and joy. But, Thomas wasn’t there, He didn’t make it to church that first Sunday and He missed out on Jesus’ real presence! Of course it was difficult for him to believe, maybe even impossible. Thomas needed to see the body in order to believe that Jesus was raised, just as He had said. And, you need to see Jesus’ body too! You need to hear with your ears, see with your eyes, touch with your hands, and taste with your tongues, and so Jesus comes to you in His Divine Service, through His Word and through His Means of Grace to bring you His peace.
Thomas wasn’t there that first Sunday, but he was there the second, and, once again, Jesus came amongst His disciples with His real presence and He proclaimed peace. The peace that Jesus proclaimed was peace with God, that is, justification, restoration, and reconciliation with God. Jesus’ peace includes the forgiveness of sins, victory over death, and eternal life, now, and forever. Jesus gives His peace in His real presence amongst His people through His means of grace, the proclamation of the Gospel, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Supper. Jesus invited Thomas to touch Him, to handle His flesh and His wounds that He might believe saying, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” And, Thomas did believe, and he confessed with his lips what he believed about Jesus in his heart, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus lovingly gave Thomas what He needed to believe; He gave Himself, His flesh and blood real presence to strengthen Thomas’ faith and to reassure and comfort His disciples. And, these Jesus still gives to you today that you may have His peace, peace that the world cannot give. But you receive so much more than even Thomas and Peter and the other Apostles and disciples, for, to you Jesus gives His resurrected and glorified flesh and blood to eat and to drink that He may live in you and you in Him in Holy Communion, even as He has given you His Spirit in Holy Baptism so that you were born again, a new life and a new man.
Quasimodo geniti – Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. The resurrection of Jesus is the power behind Holy Baptism. And, your baptism is the only death that will ever truly matter for you, for when you were baptized, you died; you died with Jesus and were buried. But, in your baptism you were also raised to new life, for you were baptized into Jesus’ resurrection, so that, in your baptism, you were truly born again to a new life that never ends. Thus, Easter is like unto your birthday, your new birth unto eternal life. Now what? So what? How then should you live? What should you do? Live as newborn infants, who long for the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word and Holy Sacraments, and by these, grow up into salvation just as you are nourished by food and drink and grow up to be a woman or a man – it is the natural thing that you were created to do.
Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Many interpret Jesus’ words to Thomas as a mild rebuke of his unbelief, and perhaps they are. However, we might also understand these words as encouragement for Thomas and the Apostles that, because of their eyewitness testimony, many others who did not have the blessing of seeing, hearing, and touching Jesus in the flesh and blood will, nonetheless, be blessed with faith. Further, after seeing, hearing, and touching His resurrected Lord in the flesh and blood, Thomas made a confession of faith that eclipsed even that of Peter who had confessed Jesus to be the Christ and Son of God; Thomas confessed upon seeing Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Then, John concludes the story by writing, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.”
There are three that testify to Jesus’ bodily resurrection and real presence: The Spirit of the Gospel, the Water of Holy Baptism, and the Blood of the Holy Supper. Jesus has given you these gifts of His real presence that you might see and hear and touch and taste and believe, and that believing, you may have life in His Name.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Homily for The Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord - Easter Sunday

Mark 16:1-8; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Job 19:23-27

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women got up to work. There was unfinished work to do because of the haste of Friday before the Great Sabbath. They made their way to the tomb to finish the work of preparing Jesus’ body for burial. He was dead. There would be time for mourning later on. Now there was work to be done. From their perspective, nothing had changed, except that the Rabbi they loved was dead. People die all the time. Eventually, someone you love will die. Now was the time to work, to do what was necessary. Life would never be the same, but it would go on. There was work to be done, bread to bake and clothes to make, the Law to keep and sacrifices to offer for failure to keep it. Tomorrow would be like today, and today there was work to do.
The first work to do would be to roll away the stone. You see, they fully expected it to be there. That would be a daunting task for two women. Imagine their surprise, even horror, when they saw that the stone had already been rolled away. Still, they entered the tomb. They still had work to do. That’s when they saw a young man sitting where Jesus’ body had been laid, dressed in a white robe. They were alarmed, as you might expect. The young man said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.”
This young man, whom we understand to be one of God’s holy angels, is the first Evangelist. He proclaimed the Good News to the frightened women that Jesus had died and had risen just as He had said He would. And, if that were not enough, he invited them to see and believe. I imagine that you have thought at times, “If only I could have seen and heard what Jesus’ disciples and the crowds saw and heard. I would have believed.” And yet, seeing and hearing, they did not believe. They didn’t understand. They simply couldn’t comprehend. The young man told them “Go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” But, they went out and fled from the tomb and said nothing to anyone because they were afraid. Seeing is believing, or so they say. But the women saw, and they did not believe. In fact, Jesus’ disciples, and even His opponents, saw and heard many amazing things and did not believe. Truly it was, and it is, as Jesus taught: They have God’s Word. If they will not hear God’s Word, neither will they believe even if someone were to be raised from the dead.
Later that same day Jesus appeared to His disciples gathered together in fear behind closed doors. They believed when they saw Jesus’ hands and side, but only after He ate some bread and fish were they certain He wasn’t a ghost. But, as you will hear more fully next week, Thomas was not there. When they told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, Thomas said that he would never believe unless he could see and touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side himself. The next Sunday, Jesus again appeared amongst His disciples. This time Thomas was there. Jesus invited Thomas to touch Him and believe. However, now that Thomas could see for himself, he no longer demanded to touch, and he believed. Jesus said to him, “ You have believed because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
But, what about Job? Job lived between 1800 – 2000 years before Jesus’ birth, and yet he famously confessed, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” Job had never seen the Lord. Job had never heard the Lord. But, Job had heard of God’s promise to our First Parents in the Garden, and likely of His covenant with Abraham to bless all nations through an heir from his own decent. There is simply no comparing what Job heard and saw to what the Apostles heard and saw, not to mention the extreme affliction God permitted Job to suffer, and yet Job’s faith and confession are as rock solid and certain as no other in the entire Scriptures. “I know,” Job confessed, not “ I think” or “I hope.” “I know that my Redeemer lives, and though my body will surely die and dissolve in the earth, I know that I will see God in my own flesh and blood body, with my own eyes.”
Whence comes Job’s faith and confession? Whence comes the Apostle’s, Thomas’, the women at the tomb, and your faith and confession? This faith and confession is created in you by the Holy Spirit through the Word of the LORD. This shouldn’t be surprising, for that’s how it was in the Creation. God spoke His Word and there was light, heavens and earth, seas, land, trees, plants, and animals of every kind. And, the day of Jesus’ resurrection is the first day of God’s New Creation. “Behold, I make all things new.” God continues to create anew through the proclamation of the Gospel, removing the stones of sin and guilt and raising the spiritually dead to new and everlasting life.
Jesus’ death on Good Friday was for all, no exceptions, no exclusions. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.” Likewise Jesus’ resurrection is for all and available to all. The Holy Spirit is blowing through the Word and Sacraments throughout the hills and valleys, fields, forests, deserts, and plains of this earth raising to life those who do not refuse and reject Him. Our justification, faith, resurrection, and life are His work, and it is glorious in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!
This is the day that the LORD has made. It is a new day, not like Friday. The women were wrong. They didn’t understand at the time. But they did later. How? By the Word. They heard the Word of the angel in Jesus’ tomb. They heard the Word that Mary Magdalene spoke to Peter. Thomas also was wrong, but He believed later because he heard the Word of the Lord proclaimed by his fellow apostles. Though it may seem that seeing is believing, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. Still, faith is created only by the Holy Spirit where and when it pleases Him, and the Spirit can be resisted.
But the women were also wrong about the days following being just like the days before. No, after Jesus’ resurrection, everything is changed, all things are new. No longer need we strive to make ourselves right with God. Jesus has done that for us. It is finished. The Law is fulfilled. Now we are free to serve Him without fear all the days of our everlasting lives. We live today in the freedom and joy of Christ’s resurrection. And we look forward to the day when we, with Job, Thomas, Peter and the Apostles, the Marys, and all the faithful, will see God with our own eyes, in our own resurrected and glorified bodies, face to face. Until that day keep us dear Father in Jesus Christ.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Homily for Holy Saturday - Vigil of Easter

Genesis 1:1 – 2:3; Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13; Exodus 14:10 – 15:1; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Jonah 3:1-10; Daniel 3:1-30; John 20:1-18

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
It is appropriate that the first celebration of Easter begin with the words “In the beginning God,” for God was, and God is, the beginning and the very Creator and source of all that is. The rest of the Holy Scriptures are the account of man’s rebellion and fall into sin, and the wages of his sin, even as God worked through His fallen creatures and creation ever towards their re-creation, restoration, and renewal in His Son. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Omega to that Alpha, and yet, it doesn’t end there, but it is a new beginning. Friday’s “It is finished” proclaimed the end of God’s work of re-creation in His Son. Jesus observed the Sabbath rest on Saturday, today. And now, tonight at sundown, we are gathered here in vigil anticipating the dawn of a New Day – the First Day of the New Creation in Jesus Christ, a Day upon which the sun will never set, the Eternal Eighth Day.
This is the Day into which you have been baptized. The life you live in Christ will never die. Though your body will die and return to the dust from which it came, your spirit is a new creation. When Christ returns, He will raise up your body as a new creation fit for the new and immortal spirit you already are. The proof and guarantee of this is Jesus’ own bodily resurrection and ascension to the right hand of His Father.
In your Holy Baptism, the Father spoke His creative Word once again and His Spirit hovered over the waters to bring something out of nothing, to bring you out of death into life. Once again the flood waters poured over you, both killing and quickening, as you were raised up a new creation. Like Israel before you, you were delivered safely through the Red Sea while your sins and sinful nature were drowned with Pharaoh and his hosts and died. Though you were lifeless and dead as dried-out bones, the Spirit breathed life upon you and into you and gave you a heart of flesh in place of your heart of stone. Jesus is the greater Jonah who, after three days in the tomb was raised to preach the Gospel of forgiveness to you lost and hopeless Ninevites that you would be turned in repentance and live. He has delivered you out of the fiery furnace of His Father’s wrath against your sin and has invaded and proclaimed victory over both death and hell.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! This is the Day that the LORD has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Christ has made all things new! From now on, regard no one according to the flesh! Christ has died for all, so all have died, and He is risen that all may live in Him. Let this be told in all the earth! Let this be witnessed in your lives, words, and deeds. Go! Flee from His empty tomb and tell all His brothers and sisters He is risen, just as He said! But, whatever you do, don’t let tomorrow be like yesterday. Yesterday is dead and buried; tomorrow is risen in Christ!
Do not be afraid. You are not alone. You are never alone. You died in Jesus death’ and were buried; in Jesus you also have been raised from death. The stone of sin and guilt that would have kept you in your tomb has been rolled away, removed, never to be placed again. This is what your baptism means. Your new life is in communion with Christ. You are His body even as He is your head. And, not you alone, but all the Church. In truth, Jesus died and was raised for all men; pity those who do not know, believe, and confess.
Do not be afraid to live freely. That is, do not permit yourself to be burdened and weighed down by cares and anxieties and fears concerning this material world, your possessions, food, clothing, shelter, and money. You have died to their enslavement; you are free in Christ who is all in all. “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
Do not be afraid. You are not alone. You are born again into a new family, those who hear the Word of God and keep it. You are your brother’s keeper, and by your brother you are kept. One holy Name you bless. You partake of one Holy Food. This is the feast of victory for our God. The Lamb who was slain has begun His reign. Alleluia! You are born of His riven side in holy cleansing water and blood. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Let us rejoice and be glad in Him today, and tomorrow, and forever.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Homily for Good Friday

John 18:1 – 19:42; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
You all know the story of Good Friday and of your Lord’s Passion pretty well. You hear it recounted year after year, and rightly so, for it is a central tenet of our Christian faith. You also hear it weekly, in part, in our Divine Service and in the Gospel rightly proclaimed. To be sure, the story of Christ’s Passion is emotionally provocative. It inspires sadness and remorse, pity and anguish, revulsion and anger. It moves, not a few, to tears. But, what lasting impact, I wonder, does it have upon you? Has it changed you for the better in any particular way?
This Good Friday, I encourage you to focus upon the effect that Jesus’ suffering and death has had upon you and how you live your life today and from now on. While your Lord suffered scourging, crucifixion, and death to redeem you from your sin and guilt, and that fact is the primary truth we remember this day, that is not the only thing that Jesus has done for you in His Passion. Indeed, Jesus’ death was not merely for you, so that you are the benefactor, which you surely are, but Jesus’ death was also as you. Likewise, Jesus’ resurrection was both for you and as you as well. This means that Jesus’ death and resurrection was your death and resurrection. Not only does it count for you, but it happened to you.
Jesus proclaimed this fact when He taught about serving others saying, “As you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.” And, what our Lord proclaimed matter-of-factly, St. Paul has explained more theologically saying, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” Thus, when you serve your brother, sister, and neighbor in Christ, you serve your Lord Jesus in whom they are baptized, have died and have been raised from death. And, even when you serve your neighbor who does not believe in Christ, you still serve Christ who died for them and as them as well.
This Lenten season we prayed the Litany together throughout our midweek Vespers. In one petition of that great prayer we prayed, “By the mystery of Your holy incarnation; by Your holy nativity; By Your baptism, fasting, and temptation; by Your agony and bloody sweat; by Your cross and passion; by Your precious death and burial; By Your glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter: Help us, good Lord.” We appeal to God on account of these His works in His Son Jesus. In and through these, God became what we are. All that He did He did for you as you. All that He did you did in Him. And, what is true for you is true for your brother, your sister, your neighbor as well.
Thus St. Paul exhorts you saying, “The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.” What does it mean to “regard no one according to the flesh” than to recognize that every person you know, will meet, or encounter, every person on this planet now, or ever has been or ever will be, is not merely a man, woman, or child, but each and every one of them – good or bad, rich or poor, likeable or unlikeable, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, or any other – is an enfleshed soul created by God and redeemed by God in the incarnation, nativity, baptism, crucifixion and death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
The rat race of your lives can easily lead you to have a pragmatic and utilitarian view of life and the world as you go to work, pay your bills and taxes, struggle to keep up your home, educate your children, and worry about things you cannot control in the world: wars, terrorism, violence, death. That view might conclude: “Whatever works is good.” Jesus died to cleanse you from your sin and failure to keep the Law that enslaved you to futile and fruitless obedience with death being your only reward. Jesus rose from death to raise you to new life in Him that you might “be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.”
“If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Christ’s death and resurrection are both for you and as you. In Christ, you are a new creation. But, do you know this? Do you feel this? Do you live this? This is no preaching of the Law telling you what you must do, but this is a proclamation of the Gospel telling you of the freedom you have and enjoy in Christ! Don’t place yourself back under the shackles of the Law. Don’t let Satan lie to you and deceive you so that you believe, feel, and live as though you are not free. The hallmark of living freely in Christ is not being enslaved to the Law and material, worldly, and fleshly desires, values, and goods. The fruit of living freely in Christ, the fruit of the Gospel and Spirit, is giving freely of what you have freely received: love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, charity, kindness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, perseverance.
What all this means is that your life is not your own – and that’s a good thing! You have died and have been buried with Christ; likewise you have been raised with Christ. Christ’s life is your life, and your life is His. Christ died for you and as you that He might cleanse you from sin and guilt and free you from slavery and condemnation under the Law. If the Son has set you free, then you are free indeed! And, what He has done for you and as you He has done for all. Therefore, regard no one according to the flesh alone, but everyone as Christ – “When you did it to the least of these my brothers you did it to me.”
It is finished – all that was necessary to make you right with God, all that was necessary to redeem you from sin and death, all that was necessary to free you from slavery and condemnation under the Law is finished, completed, and fulfilled in Jesus’ death on Good Friday. Jesus took all of that upon Himself and He died for you and as you and was buried. However, He did not remain in that tomb, but He rose from the dead on the third day just as He had said. To remain in sin and death and worldly, fleshly, and material desires, pleasures, and pursuits is to remain in death and the tomb; it is to return to a rotting, stinking, filthy corpse. But, Jesus has died and has been raised that you might live for Him and as Him. And, while this new life is not always easy, Jesus promises to be with you through it all. When you give to others, you give with His gifts. When you forgive others, you forgive with His forgiveness. When you love others, you love with His love.
You are not the same. In Christ you have been reconciled with God; therefore, be reconciled with your brother, your sister, and your neighbor. You are a new creation in Christ, and so also your brother, your sister, and your neighbor. You are blessed to be a blessing. This is why we call this day good. Jesus’ death is for you and as you. Jesus’ resurrection is for you and as you. In Christ, you are a new creation. Glory be to God alone.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.