Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,
Today marks the beginning of that three day period beginning with Maundy Thursday through the Easter Vigil on Saturday, culminating with our celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus! It is a time marked by all kinds of activities and extra church services. I have found, over the years, I must guard against the danger of falling into a mindset of simply going through the motions, not allowing these days to speak to me personally. That was especially true as a parish pastor, with a heavy schedule and so many details, it can be easy to neglect a personal connection with this very personal day.
Whenever I begin to feel that way I am always struck by the interaction between Mary and Jesus early on the morning of the Resurrection as she stood outside the tomb weeping, imagining the worst—that someone had stolen the lifeless body of Jesus.
Then Jesus, unknown to her in her grief, spoke to her. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher)” Jn 20:15–16. I can’t help but imagine the flood of emotions in Mary’s heart when she heard this “stranger” speak her name. But hadn’t Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me” (John 10:14).
What’s in a name? Doesn’t it make you feel good when someone you admire knows your name? The truth is, each of us are known by our name by the Risen Jesus! He not only knows our name, but He knows everything about us. He knows our success and failures. He knows our hurts and our hurrahs. He knows our hopes and dreams. And in spite of it all, He loves us with an everlasting love.
These days ahead are filled with many activities. Some will help you focus. Some will distract you. My prayer for you during these days is that the Holy Spirit will move in your heart to help you again recognize the great sacrificial love of Jesus. This is the foot-washing Jesus. This is the Bread and Wine Jesus. This is the knowingly betrayed Jesus. This is the beaten and abused Jesus. This is the crucified and dying Jesus.
But April Fools—He didn’t stay dead! He rose to new life, and with that brought each of us the promise of new life forever. It’s a life filled with His love and forgiveness, but also a life to live out His love with the world around us. He has chosen you by name to abide in Him forever!
May this be for you a very personal and special season for you as you once again stand at the open tomb and hear Jesus call your name!
Blessings on your Holy Week preparations and Resurrection celebrations!
In His peace,
Rev. Gregory S. Walton, President
The Florida-Georgia District, LCMS