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Our Easter joy!

April 16, 2018 No Comment

by Paul Zabel

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

A number of years ago my father-in-law wove together a crown of thorns that I attached to a cross which was placed in the chancel of our church during the season of Lent. That cross was formed from the trunks of two Christmas trees which had stood on each side of the altar during the Christmas season. In subsequent years, I had my father-in-law fashion a second crown of thorns to be placed on a Lenten wreath that also was used during the Lenten season in our church’s worship services. The Lenten wreath consisted of five purple candles, along with a Christ Candle placed in the centre of the wreath. During each of the five weeks of Lent one of the purple candles was extinguished (as opposed to the Advent wreath, in which an additional candle was lit during the four weeks of Advent). The Christ Candle was extinguished during the Good Friday worship service and then re-lit during the Easter Sunday sunrise service. The crown of thorns that was attached to the Lenten cross, which remained in the chancel on Easter Sunday morning, was transformed into a crown of beauty by a variety of spring flowers placed into it for the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection.

The practice of using a Lenten wreath came about from an article I read describing how to transform an Advent wreath into a Lenten wreath. And the placing of flowers in the crown of thorns, I believe, originated from the fact that flowers often became synonymous with an individual showing their love, devotion, and commitment to another. What better way has our Lord Jesus bestowed upon us His love, devotion, and commitment than by suffering and dying on the cross in our place to take away all our sins.

Have you heard the story (and it is just a story—a legend, if you will) of the old monk who was supposed to have found the crown of thorns which had been placed on the head of Jesus? He took the ugly-looking crown into a chapel one night and placed it upon the altar. Very early the next morning, when he went to the place to pray, the sun was streaming down in all its glory upon that simple, rough-hewn altar. There he noticed that the crown of thorns had lost its ugliness. Miraculously the thorns had been transformed into beautiful roses blooming in all their glory in the sunshine of a new day.

During different and unsettling times in our lives, the distant horizon may seem to have become darkened. However, with the dawning of another day the sun appears more majestic than ever before. God has made us no idle promises. Jesus meant what He said, when He gave us the assurance, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” He sounded the trumpet of victory which keeps echoing through all time when He proclaimed His victory over sin, death and the devil. He lived and died and lived again to prove to us that He is the way of salvation and the fulfillment of God the Father’s faithful promises.

Our heavenly Father’s plan was not just a code of right and wrong. It is not just a blind happiness that blots out the reality of life. Through what Christ has done for us, God has given to us the power to win, and the strength to conquer—yes, to conquer even death. We live each day with our Lord Jesus, confidently being assured that tomorrow will be greater still. By faith in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour from sin, we know that one day we shall hear our Lord God say, “You have fought a good fight. You have kept the faith. This crown of righteousness is yours.” God’s truth and love live on forever.

Chief of sinners though I be,
Jesus shed His blood for me.
Died that I might live on high,
Lives that I might never die.
As the branch is to the vine,
I am His and He is mine.
(LSB #611)

Rev. Paul Zabel is president of Lutheran Church–Canada’s East District

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