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”He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.  (Luke 24:6-9 ESV) 

He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! This greeting has been on the lips of Christians ever since the women came running back to find their friends on that glorious morning long ago. As we have for the past 60 years today at International Lutheran Church, we repeat these words of greeting remembering that our Savior Jesus lives. This is the message we share and the reason we are here.

”What has happened to me?” My father has been asking me this question the last three weeks now. We are struggling to come to grips with the challenges in life. Sometimes life is perplexing, and we don’t have many answers to help us understand what we are going through. Each of us can probably think of a point in our life that didn’t make sense. We can certainly see and perceive that something is different, but we fail to grasp the reason why. Illness, pain, loss and death tend to make us perplexed but also things that perhaps seem too good to be true. 

This is part of what we see in the gospel lesson from St. Luke this morning. What started as a tearful journey of the faithful to the tomb of their Teacher ended in a race to tell the most important news ever – Jesus is not dead but alive! He is risen! The load of spices meant to embalm their loved and respected friend, was nothing in comparison to the fragrance of the empty tomb. The stone vault meant to keep out trespassers was no match for the good news of our trespasses being removed as far as the East is from the West. What strikes me, though, is the angelic declaration to “Remember what He said to you.” Memories are precious. Several people have stopped by to visit or called the house these days to share a memory they have with my dad. It means a lot both to my dad but also to the person. What a blessing for me to get a chance to also overhear their conversations. 

As these dazzlingly dressed angels shared with the women, their first question – “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” – begs us to reply. Do we, like the women that day, stand in confusion about the lack of stone and body and fail to remember His words? “Remember what He told you…” It is a simple task and something we need to do again and again. Our situation defies our understanding, but His promises are there even before the confusion sets in. He loves you. He forgives you. His death was for our sake, and His life again gives us life. If we are perplexed at our situation, if we are facing things we don’t understand, we need only to think on what He has already told us – “I am with you always!” We are not alone - in death, or loss, or illness, or any situation we can come up with. Jesus is risen. He is risen, indeed! Yes, sometimes our lives perplex us. But always His Word has the power to comfort us because He is alive. As we speak to each other this greeting and share it with loved ones and neighbors, we, too, hold close its message to comfort and make us strong in Him. He is risen! Alleluia!

Pastor Carl