Easter Sunday – Our Redeemer Lives

Forty Days of Prayer March 30

Saturday of Holy Week is a bit strange in the scriptures.  Nothing happens in the Gospels.  Jesus is laid in the tomb before sundown on Friday and nobody goes to the tomb on the Sabbath day of Saturday.  It is not until Sunday morning when everything in life and the world begins to change.  That is like life very often where incredible things happen and in between life is very quiet.    The great thing about this week is the day of great sorrow is ultimately followed by great joy in the resurrection and with the Lord’s presence. This made me think of many peoples favorite Psalm, the 23rd Psalm.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,  he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:1-6)

This Psalm starts out with green pastures, quiet waters and the paths of the Lord.  Everything is good and right with the world.   The Lord, He is good, He is my shepherd.   Then come the valleys of life.  They are full of shadows, darkness and death.    The blessing in this section of the Psalm is that God becomes more personal.  God is no longer in the third person, but second person YOU.  This psalm reminds us that it is not often till tougher, darker days that we appreciate God as much as we should.  [Read more…]

Forty Days of Prayer March 29

In this season of Lent we have reached the focal point of what Jesus was leading up to in the events of Good Friday and the Cross.  In the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we have seven things recorded that Jesus said from the cross.  The first of these are the words spoken even to the soldiers who crucified Jesus are here in the Gospel of Luke.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 23:32-34)

I have heard it said you learn a lot about a person when you see them facing adversity.  I think being crucified counts as an adverse situation in life.  I can hardly think of anything that might be worse.  In these first words of Jesus we find out what the whole purpose of the cross was with Jesus, forgiveness.  You can imagine he was thinking of the soldiers who were only following orders and doing what they were told to do.  You can also imagine He was thinking of the crowds in Jerusalem who were swayed by others to shout “crucify Him, crucify Him.”    From all of His words you can even say that He was thinking of those who arrested him and led to Him getting this death sentence.  The forgiveness of Jesus, in all of the Gospels is not bound to those you would expect but reaches out to all people.   [Read more…]

Forty Days of Prayer March 28

Sometimes prayer is very strong and powerful.  That is the case when Jesus prays on this night. Jesus knows what is going to happen on the next day so His prayer wrestles with what is easier for Him or what is the will of God.   That is often the struggle we have in life and with sin.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.  Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Mark 14:32-42)

Gethsemane or the Mount of Olives was a half way point between Jerusalem and Bethany where Jesus was staying this week.  Bethany was about two miles outside of Jerusalem. The custom each day was to stop and pray here for a while on there way back to Bethany where they were staying with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  Jesus knows everything is possible when one prays, because everything is possible for God.  The struggle in prayer here is personal requests, versus the greater will of God.  This was hard prayer. In Luke’s account of this he describes sweat mixed with blood (Luke 22:44) falling from Jesus’ face.  This payer highlights the struggle I imagine God has between personal requests and the need for the greater good.  The will of God goes to each of us in the grace of Jesus, yet also extends to others.  We see that in the life and death of Jesus.   Remember that tension when you pray for it is one reality that God always deals with. So Jesus prays, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” [Read more…]

Welcome to the Vicar Blog

Vicars Bill Whitehead and Kurt Steinbrueck

Vicars Bill Whitehead and Kurt Steinbrueck

Hi, this is Kurt Steinbrueck and Bill Whitehead, Vicars at Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL.  We created the Vicar Blog because we thought members of the congregation at Family of Christ would enjoy following along with the things we are learning in our seminary classes as well as providing another way for us to interact with people Monday through Saturday.

We hope you enjoy the posts and maybe learn along with us as we study the Word of God.  We encourage you to ask questions and make comments as this blog is intended to be interactive. [Read more…]

Easter Candy Party: Saturday, March 30

Easter Egg HuntThis Saturday, Middle School and High School Youth will be meeting at my house (9715 Pleasant Run Way, Tampa 33647) to fill Easter eggs for the upcoming Easter egg hunt this Sunday. Come over at 3:30 pm and pick up will be at 5:30 pm.

Forty Days of Prayer March 27

During this Holy Week one of the more unusual days for this week is today which I have heard called Spy Wednesday, at differing times in the history of the Church.  It is because on this day Judas made an agreement with the chief priests to betray Jesus and looked for an opportunity to do that.  Here is the passage below.

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money.  He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:1-6)

One of the most unusual actions of Jesus, that follows this in the Gospels, is when the disciples on the next day ask where they are going to celebrate the Passover?  Jesus tells Peter and John to go into town and they will see a man carrying a water jar, follow him and that will show you where we are going to meet.  Prepare everything there.   Is there more than one person carrying a jar of water in Jerusalem?  Of course, but Jesus does not want to tell the group where they are going to be eating this evening because that would be the perfect place for Judas to tell the guards to come and arrest Jesus.  Jesus wants to make sure he has time to wash the disciples feet, teach them some last few things, and then most importantly, Institute the Lord’s Supper.  That Passover celebration had to happen without interruption, so Judas would later lead the guards to Jesus where they stopped to pray on the Mount of Olives.   [Read more…]

Forty Days of Prayer March 26

We are now in Holy week which is known as the week from Palm Sunday until Easter.  This week we will focus our prayers on things that Jesus said and happened this week.  The longest of Jesus’ prayers recorded in scripture was the one in all of John chapter 17.  We looked at a few verses of this prayer a few wks ago and today I would like to ponder a few more from this prayer made by Jesus on Thursday of this week.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15-18)

As Jesus knows He is about to leave this world He prays for us and the disciples as we are all left here. He does not pray that we are also taken to heaven but that we are left here for a purpose.  This part of the prayer reminds me of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5: 13-16, where Jesus tells us we are to be light for the world, or salt.   Both of these things are meant to improve life for others.  Light helps us to see what we are doing and where we are going.  Salt brings flavor to food as well as being the primary preservative in days without refrigeration.   Jesus prays that we stay here for a purpose, to carry out his mission in the world.  Too often we ask ourselves what are we doing when we should be about the work Jesus left us to carry out. [Read more…]

Forty Days of Prayer March 25

We have entered Holy Week.  This is the week from Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday up to Easter Sunday.   In chapel I just asked the kids what happened on the Monday of Holy Week?  They came up with many answers, most of which were things Jesus did later in the week.  Do you know?  Finally one of the teachers answered correctly in that Jesus entered the Temple and was angry with all of the activities that were not what they were supposed to be. Hear this in Mark chapter 11.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it `a den of robbers.” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:15-18)

This passage has Jesus getting angry, flipping over table angry.  Some people have the idea that getting angry is sinful, no.  In fact all throughout the Old Testament we have God getting angry with the sin and evil of the world.  In this passage Jesus is angry with what the Temple had become with all of the money changers and markets in the outer court of the Temple.  Temple taxes would be paid with money that was not bearing the image of Caesar.  Roman money was the common currency of the day, and currency traders converted Roman money into a local currency.  I am not sure of what the transaction fee was here, but the whole enterprise Jesus found lost sight of what the Temple was to be for the world.  [Read more…]

Family of Christ Adult Choir – Cantata – Not Just a Story