Dear Friends –
Every year the Gospel reading for the second Sunday of Easter is from John 20: 19 ff. I remember how last year – when we first went into lockdown during the middle of Lent – around the middle of March – many felt that certainly we would be able to worship again in person by Easter. But it did not happen. Who would have thought at the time that some churches would not even be meeting indoors in person by Easter 2021?
As we have been living for a year now in various stages of lockdown, and some have been under quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19, I have gained a new understanding of the position the disciples were in in John 20: 19 ff. The Bible tells us, “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week (Easter Sunday evening), and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews.” In that kind of situation, what did Jesus do for them?
- He gave them His presence. “He came and stood among them.” (verse 19)
- He gave them His peace. Twice He said, “Peace be with you.” (verses 19 and 21)
- He gave them unmistakable evidence of the resurrection. He showed them His hands and His side. (verse 20)
- He gave them a renewed sense of purpose and a calling. He said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (verse 21)
- He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (verse 22)
- He gave them authority. He promised, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (verse 23)
If we are going to be able to not just survive, but actually be strong in our witness for Christ, if we are going to be able to advocate for the historic, orthodox Christian faith in the midst of all of the pressures and opposition – not only from the world, but also unfortunately from within the church – we are going to need the same gifts from Jesus. We need His presence, peace, unmistakable evidence of His resurrection, a renewed sense of purpose and calling, the Holy Spirit, and His authority. The good news of Easter is that Jesus has all those same gifts for us.
I would like to tell you about one of our newest ministries. We are working with a group of younger persons that includes two students at an ELCA seminary, four college students who are planning on attending seminary, and others. Of this group –
- One of them is leading a young adult group at his church.
- Two of them are working at starting new groups – one at his university, one at his church.
- Several have written articles that have appeared or will appear in our newsletter, CORE Voice.
- One of them made a video book review, which has been posted on our You Tube channel.
- Three of them attended NEXUS while in high school. Two of those three have been college-aged mentors for NEXUS and plan to be mentors again this summer.
NEXUS is a program of Grand View University in Des Moines for older high school students, which includes a week of Bible study, theological discussion, fellowship, relationship building, and being challenged to consider a church-related vocation. Lutheran CORE is sponsor of the week of NEXUS which will be held this summer.
- From this ministry we are seeing develop –
A support system for orthodox students at ELCA seminaries.
Young adults leading and starting groups for young adults.
Opportunities for NEXUS alumni to stay connected and continue to be involved in ministry as they prepare to enroll in seminary.
Seeing the risen Christ, the disciples had the strength and courage to face all the challenges and opposing forces in life. Because we know that Jesus is alive, we are able to continue our work of confronting the forces that are undermining the historic Christian faith, offering guidance and assistance to congregations that are or soon will be between pastors, working with congregations that are reviewing their church body affiliation, providing a system of support for orthodox ELCA pastors and seminarians, hosting our annual Spanish language and bi-lingual ministries festival, and challenging the ELCA to honor its commitment to also provide a place for traditional views and those who hold them.
Thank you for all your words of encouragement and your faithful prayer and financial support. Please click here for a form that you can use to let us know how we can be praying for you. Your timely gift to Lutheran CORE will help enable us to continue to be a VOICE for Biblical Truth and a NETWORK for Confessing Lutherans.
Living with hope because of the resurrection of Jesus,
Dennis D. Nelson
Executive Director of Lutheran CORE
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