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Jesus’ task was completed. He said so: “It is finished,” and “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). The body was taken down and buried. What else could they think? Then came that unbelievable morning at the tomb when the body was nowhere to be found and the slow realization that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, “just as He said” (Matthew 28:6).

Disbelief turned to joy when Jesus came to them, and “He showed them His hands and feet … and ate [a piece of broiled fish] in their presence” (Luke 24:40-43). Just as before, He taught them. He told them again what He had told them before, but now “He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). The disciples must have listened with new ears as they took in all Jesus told them in those days following His miraculous Resurrection.

Then Jesus took them to a remote area, blessed them, and “was taken up into Heaven” (Luke 24:51) before their eyes. Joyfully they went back home and waited – waited for the gift Jesus had promised would come to them. One day with wind and fire the Holy Spirit came, bringing power and authority to those folks Jesus had commissioned to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He had commanded them.” And He added His promise, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The book of Acts tells the story of what happened as those disciples, armed with Jesus’ promise to be with them, started in their own community and then branched out into all nations, preaching and teaching, baptizing and discipling others, performing miracles in Jesus’ name, facing persecution and death for the sake of the Gospel.

The book of Acts ends after 28 chapters, but the work is not over. The story goes on through the lives and witness of the thousands of Christians who have picked up the task where the first disciples left off. Our story may never be written down for other Christians to read, but those around us are seeing it unfold. They are hearing us speak the Gospel message; they are recipients of the good deeds we do in the Lord’s name; we equip other workers of the Good News through our prayer and financial support; they take notice of the stand we take in defense of Truth over the lies with which Satan would blind our world. No, it’s not over!

We celebrate Pentecost (May 20) with “Faith in Action” where we don’t just go to church to be refueled in God’s grace. On this day we leave empowered to be the church and serve in Jesus’ name. Sign up and be part of this community movement! We have the privilege, we get the opportunity of carrying on Jesus’ work until He comes again to take us to Himself, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21) Indeed, it’s not over!



“No Joke!”

What a rare opportunity this year! It brings a smile to the face. Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day and Easter will be celebrated on April Fool’s Day. So couples beaming romance will have smudges on their foreheads as they wine and dine in cupid’s throes. And pranks will be played on the day that’s no joke for Christians around the world. The last time Easter fell on April Fools’ Day was in 1956. After 2018, the next one is 2029, and then again in 2040—but after that, not again in this century.

It’s thought that the practice of pranking on the first of April comes from 16th century France. The Christian world had moved from the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar, 45 B.C.) to the Gregorian calendar (named for Pope Gregory XIII, 1548). The change moved the New Year celebration from April 1 to January 1. Those still using the Julian calendar were “fooled” by the new date and pranks were played on those who didn’t change with the times. So the pranks continue!

I loved the one put on by the BBC news show Panorama. On April 1, 1957, they announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in! Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree; to which the BBC diplomatically replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” Just fooling!!

There’s no fooling with the resurrection for we Christians, though, even when it falls on April 1. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians that if Christ isn’t raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain and void of any hope. We would remain lost in our sins. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… For in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (2 Cor. 15:20,22) That’s Good News for you and me. Fool that I am, that’s the kind of wisdom I need to face the challenges that came fresh with each new day. Even death has to give way to us through the gift of faith we have in our victorious Lord Jesus Christ!

Just look at how the disciples lived after seeing and touching and eating with the risen Christ! They went from fearful fools, locked behind closed doors, to courageous witnesses of Christ with a story to share! In my mind the greatest proof that Jesus is risen from the dead is the way they gave their lives for Him. At any point they could have turned their backs on Jesus. They could have claimed that this whole resurrection was simply an April fool’s hoax. They would have saved their earthly lives at least for a time. But they had seen the resurrected Christ and they knew His promise to prepare a place for each of them. They could never turn their back on Jesus. So they boldly shared their sure and certain hope in the risen, living Savior!

Indeed, death doesn’t have the last word! It didn’t with Jesus and it won’t with us. Heaven is certain and Jesus with us all along the way makes the difference in our lives all along the way. May we be courageous in the sharing of Jesus and in the way we live in the face of challenge because “Alleluia, Christ is risen!! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!! No joke!!


Pastor Craig



ST PATRICKS DAY DINNER – held here at Holy Faith Lutheran Church on Saturday, March 17th at 5:00pm. Corned Beef and Cabbage served with all the traditional accompaniments!! Live music, lots of fun and fellowship. $5.00 per person or $15.00 for a family. Proceeds go to support Pine Valley Camp in Ellwood City, PA.


On Sunday, January 21st and Sunday, January 28th members of Gloria Dei will be collecting new & clean gently used sweaters, sweatshirts, hats & gloves for adults and children.  There will be a collection box in the narthex.  These items will be offered to the families who use our Crossroads Food Pantry and will be available to them on Saturday, January 27th and Saturday, February 10th.  If you have any questions, please call Ellen Conserva at 973-293-9455.

The Pastor’s Part . . . January/February, 2018

Show and Tell!”

“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” 1 Peter 1:20

I loved Show and Tell. It was 1st grade! Everyone in the class took turns bringing something in to share with the class. What fun it was to bring something in that we were especially passionate about to share our excitement. Show and Tell time was filled with interesting insights and some surprises as well. I loved to bring the cool things my father had collected growing up in India. I brought in such things as a mahogany carved elephant with real ivory tusks. I was fascinated by snakes so I really enjoyed sharing the cobra carved out of sandal wood that had a lamp post and a bulb that came out of the snake’s coiled form. How energizing to share the stories behind the object. Truly we would show and tell!

This Saturday is the Epiphany! It is the day that celebrates the Magi, the first Gentiles to worship the Christ child. They come to the house in Bethlehem, a year or so after Christ is born, to bring their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. God had His own plan of show and tell for those Wise Men. He revealed a star that led them to the Light of the World. He led them to the Messiah, the One who by His sinless life and innocent suffering and death would bring salvation to all people. Having their Lord revealed to them, they worshiped Jesus as King with their gift of gold, as God in the incense that was used in worshiping deity, as Savior in the ointment that would later be carried by the women of Easter as they come to see the empty tomb. They left to tell, certainly not evil King Herod as they were warned by the angel to return home another way. But you can bet they told the good news with everyone on their way home and finally with their royal employers, family and friends.

So we have seen! We have come to the manger of our Jesus at Christmas to worship our Lord. Thankfully we haven’t had to travel great distances to worship the King! Our God has revealed His Son where He promises to always be for us, in His Word and Supper. We have entered a New Year, 2018, in the name of Jesus! As we travel through the Epiphany season, the Greatest Gift of all is unwrapped in our worship.

Show and tell time in the classroom always had a sense of excitement as the stories were revealed and as we saw how they related to our own lives. And so our Epiphany journey is the showing of our Savior. We see how His saving story becomes part of our story. He came for each of us individually and His life comes to transform ours in His love and forgiveness. The exciting Epiphany message of a Savior revealed is not just for us to treasure. It’s for us to Show and Tell!

May we, men and women made wise through faith in Jesus, move into this New Year with our Savior to share. Have a blessed 2018 in Him!