Friday, April 28, 2017

No Blanket Was Needed

Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (John 20:6-8)

It was a cold day for North Carolina. Three people braced against the wind as they walked along a path. One was a Marine, just returned from Vietnam. Another was his wife. The last was the undertaker.

The wife carried a blue baby blanket. She said she didn’t want her baby to be cold. She insisted on wrapping the blanket around the tiny casket that soon would be lowered into the ground. No one had the heart to object.

They had planned a trip to show off their new baby to loved ones waiting in the Midwest. Now, instead of celebrating a birth, they were going home to grieve a death. The car was already packed. Baby rattles, baby bottles, and baby clothes had been given away to friends at Lejeune. They were too painful to look at. Only the blue blanket was kept.

On a winter’s night in Bethlehem the baby Jesus was also wrapped in cloth. We call it swaddling clothes.

Some 33 years later the bleeding body of this Jesus was again wrapped in cloth. We call that a shroud.

What a difference! The distinction between life and death is marked by the name of a cloth.

A mother wept over that grave near Jerusalem. A mother wept over the grave near Camp Lejeune. The blue blanket wrapping the tiny baby was prompted by the same tearful love that wanted to properly wrap the body of Jesus.

The two graves have much in common. “Tragic” is a word to describe both deaths. “Unexpected” is another. So is the word “heartbreaking.”

But the most important word is “empty.” Death could not hold the body in the Palestinian soil. Death will not hold the body in the Carolina clay.

Burial cloths serve no purpose for bodies that will be raised alive and glorious.

The wife of that Marine probably has gray hair by now. We hope that some of the pain has faded from her heart. We know for sure that one day it will all be gone.

One day her son will meet her with smiles of joy. On that day he will be able to tell her, “Mom, thanks for the thought. But you see, no blanket was needed.”

We pray: Lord Jesus, your empty grave takes away the sting of death. Your resurrection declares that those who die trusting you will rise to live forever. Dry all the tears of those who mourn the loss of a child of God. Renew their hearts to again know the joy of your salvation. Amen.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida. For an audio file of this, and other devotions, log on at

Friday, April 21, 2017

Two Suicides and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Two men committed suicide this week. For as horrible as it is to say, many welcomed their deaths. Steve Stevens ended his life after shooting a 74 year old man. Stevens explanation for the execution was his rage over a broken romantic relationship. Aaron Hernandez, a former NFL star, hung himself in his prison cell. Hernandez was serving life in prison for first degree murder. Both men displayed such a contempt for the lives of other people that it seemed society heaved a collective sigh of relief at their deaths.

In the light of such human horror, the Easter message of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead seems impotent. What difference does it make in the face of this kind of human behavior? The simple, straightforward answer is: Everything! The tragedies caused by Stevens and Hernandez have been repeated throughout the centuries. They are terrible reminders of what we humans are capable of if left to ourselves.

But God has invaded our history to give us an alternative, an eternal alternative to senseless cruelties as those committed by Stevens and Hernandez. It could have been different for those two men. The power of the resurrection is that great. And that great power is available to you. Join us this Sunday as we continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is THE life changer – for all of us.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Best and Most Important Four Days of the Year

Beginning tomorrow evening we will be offering a series of worship services which cover the heart and soul of Christianity. This is a time of year that reverberates with a call to grow spiritually. Holy Communion, the cross and ultimately the empty tomb distinguish Christianity from every other philosophy, ideology or religion. Please take a look at the descriptions of each service in the “Upcoming Events” section to the side and make the commitment to attend at least one. God bless your worship this Easter season!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Of Kings and Wimps

The word “king” resonates with power and strength. We imagine in our minds a person who is decisive and forceful in both words and actions. Someone who will not be denied what they want.

On the Sunday Christians call “Palm Sunday” Jesus of Nazareth rode into the city of Jerusalem and was welcomed as a king. Five days later, that same group of people demanded his execution. Why? Jesus didn’t fit their “kingly” thinking. For those individuals Jesus fit more into the wimp category, one who would not challenge the status quo and instead spoke of spiritual and eternal things. They didn’t want inner change, they wanted blood in the streets and they wanted it now.

And blood did flow the Friday after “Palm Sunday”. It was the blood of the same one they had proclaimed king. Instead of riding on a donkey he was now nailed to a cross. But it was on that cross Jesus redefined the word “king” forever. Instead of an act of weakness, the death of Jesus Christ was the definitive victory in the most destructive war of all history. The reign of ongoing evil leading to death had been conquered.

All the great kings of the past who we study in history are now powerless – except one. He continues to reign and will forever. And the incredible thing is he wants you to reign with him. Will you join us for one of our weekend services to invite King Jesus into your heart?

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm

Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

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Honolulu, HI
Community Lutheran Church holds protestant chapel services in Honolulu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor, HI. We are next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hickam Air Force Base, and Fort Shafter Hawaii. Look for us directly behind the Salt Lake, Hawaii, Target.