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“Let us ever walk with Jesus, Follow His example pure.” These words of a favorite hymn have a special meaning for us each day. Although the author intended that his hymn about following the example of Jesus be sung in the Lenten season, when there is a focus on themes of sacrifice and self-giving, the words fit equally well in the Easter season. No season, even one as joyous and victorious as Easter, is without its challenges that may include some sorts of suffering. There are no times when we are exempted from taking up our crosses and following the Lord, and perhaps we see that now, this year more than ever. The Good Shepherd stands ready in every season to lead His flock with loving care!
Our fifty-day celebration of Easter continues as we gather in the presence of our crucified and risen Savior Jesus Christ. He is present, for we see and hear Him speaking to us through His Spirit, in His words of Holy Absolution, and in the preaching of His Word. We gather not as much to give anything to Him but to receive from Him His gifts of deliverance, salvation, and righteousness. Today, once again He bestows on you His own righteousness, making of us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession. Our sin has been taken away, and we are renewed with eternal life by the faith created in us by His Spirit. In this faith our doubts and fears are taken away as we look forward to our heavenly home, the many rooms and mansions, the place prepared for us, as we await His final return.
What makes our Easter celebration so amazing is that here it is that same Lord Jesus whom we witnessed dying on a bloody cross who now risen from the dead appears and speaks to us. Today He promises to send to us “another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16–17). By means of the Spirit we are equipped not only to testify and witness to the saving faith but also, should it be God’s will, to suffer for that testimony. We hear the inspired words of Peter speak about suffering “for righteousness’ sake” living in the very resurrection hope of Christ.
It is precisely in our suffering that Christ meets us and acts for us. For He knows suffering intimately but also possesses the triumph over it. In our Baptism, Christ’s victory becomes our victory. His resurrection life gives us new life, which for now is but the beginning to be stretched out into life eternal.
This Pentecost Sunday is far different for many churches from any other Pentecost Sunday in the past! So many are FEARFUL as we meet the days ahead. But as St. Paul reminds Timothy, “…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” As churches across the nation and around the world are doing their best to determine proper ways to gather together, one thing is for sure and it is this: the Church of Jesus Christ is alive and well! That first Pentecost Sunday happened over 2,000 years ago as the Holy Spirit was poured out on FEARFUL apostles, but apostles who had nevertheless, had gathered to receive the promised gift!