Gift that keeps on giving


By Craig Richter

Your Pastor Speaks

Death was the conversation with our middle school confirmands at our last confirmation class. Considering that the community of faith had been in the season of Easter for four weeks, this faith matter seemed timely. Not only had communities of faith recently sung praises about Jesus’ resurrection a few weeks earlier, but also communities of faith had just remembered his death as prelude to this marvelous mystery.

To begin this conversation, I started each small group discussion with the following simple question and request. “How many of you feel comfortable discussing death? Please raise your hand.” The group’s response to the question was the same each time. Dead silence!

In the midst of the dead silence, I next inquired of the students. “How many of you fear death?” Without pause or hesitation, almost all the hands of middle school confirmands darted into the air or slowly made their way up.

Navigating the discussion carefully, I began talking about Jesus’ death. With the confirmands listening intently to each word. In one of the groups, it finally dawned on one young lady.

“So you mean that he died?” The young confirmand spoke surprisingly.

“Yes, I mean that he died? He actually died.” I affirmed and assured her.

“He really died?” She inquired again of me.

“Yes, he really died!”

“Ooooooh!” She said mouth wide open.

“Jesus really died. AND, what makes our faith so marvelous is … Jesus also lived again.” I proclaimed.

Jesus died! And Jesus also lived again! The season of Easter opens our whole selves to this gift and to what this gift actually means for our communities of faith. Make no mistake it is a gift. It is a mysterious gift that no matter how many times we seek to understand and should seek to comprehend, communities of faith can’t. We just cannot.

With confidence though, I assure you that it is a gift that keeps giving. It gives the promise of the Father’s presence in painful times. It gives the reassurance of Christ’s resurrection. It gives the hope of the Holy Spirit in the midst of hurt. It is a mysterious gift to live with and to behold.

In sharing this gift with the world, we move from the dead silence that binds us into the living promise that this gift is made known through our praises and work as the community of faith in the world. Live in the promise in this season of Easter with me. “Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!”

Craig Richter is co-pastor of All Shepherds Lutheran Church in Lewis Center and St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Delaware.

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