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Praise The LORD

April 6, 2024 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

RESURRECT09HChrist Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
April 7, 2024
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Easter 2
Praise The LORD

“He has raised up on high a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the sons of Israel who are near him. PRAISE THE LORD!” Psalm 148:14)

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If ever there was a reason to shout out praises to our God, to sing out alleluias without end, this is it! Because “He has raised up on high a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the sons of Israel who are near him.”

Today we are still living in the afterglow of the church’s holiest celebration, the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead; and we praise our God because we are given to hear the happy announcement of his resurrection; and more than that partake in it by Holy Communion; where we begin to grasp our own resurrection in his.

If we miss that we are missing everything. But if we get that, then we get it all.

Then, like St. Paul, “we can bear all things through Christ who strengthens us.” (Phil 4:13)

Then we can sail through the weakness of the flesh, forgive others even as we want to be forgiven not only by the Judge of the Universe, but by those we have harmed.

Then by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we can keep moving forward to the “high calling to which we have been called.”

By the Lord’s resurrection we can now, finally, put guilt, fear, shame, self-loathing, false hopes and uncertainty behind us. And we can keep serving our God, carrying out our vocation, doing good unto all men, “especially those of the household of faith” (Gal. 6) … even when the Egyptian Army is hot on our tail, and for all the world it appears that we can proceed no farther …

… An impassible deadly river before us with no escape to left, no flight to the right – it is just then “at the right time” (Rom. 5:8) that our Lord by his death trampled death, and by the power of his indestructible life (Heb. 7:16) rises up from the world of the dead, breaks open the tomb, and leads the captives to liberty..

We were those captives, but no longer!

By the Lord’s redeeming death, and by his death-defying and life-giving resurrection we know that even the grave cannot keep us in. “O grave where is thy victory, O death where is thy sting.” (1 Cor. 15:57) And thus we sing in the hymn:

“And the grave that shuts us in,
shall but prove the gate to heaven.
Jesus here I die with thee,
there to live eternally.”

All good things are ours, Beloved in Christ, and “all things will without question and without doubt, work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:31) We are those people.

Our souls are stainless, our faith perfect, our hope endless, and our love never-ending because Christ lives in us, and we reside in him via baptism, in which we have clothed ourselves with him. (Gal. 3:27) As Saint Paul says, “It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

Now be sure that devil, culture and sinful flesh see something very different. They do not perceive the shield of faith, the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers us, or the flesh and blood of Christ that dwells in us by Holy Communion. But only our wounded bodies, minds and souls shot through and chinked by the devil’s fiery darts.

Nonetheless today’s Psalm leads us, and the entire creation, in a paean of praise because our God has conquered sin, death, culture, Satan and every enemy that might ever harm us. He has seated us with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:7) where no enemy could ever reach us, harm us or even discomfit us.

Notice how this 148th Liturgy calls for a unified voice of praise from the highest heights to the lowest depths. Hear the Word of the LORD.

-Let the angels of heaven and all the heavenly hosts praise him.
-Sun, moon and brightly burning stars, Praise him.
-Heaven of the heavens, and you waters above the heavens, Praise the name of the LORD for he commanded and they were created, and set them in place and they cannot be moved. Not by man’s weaponry or by greenhouse gases.

The LORD has spoken!

The LORD has spoken let all the earth be silent; let all men especially scientists, and progressive thinkers, come down from their self-constructed ivory tower and worship the One who raised Jesus from the dead.

But the praise that Easter calls forth does not stop there. No one is excluded from offering his alleluia’s from the highest to the lowest.

Praise the LORD O sea monsters, and all that is in the deep, even the eye-popping creatures that live in the Mariana Trench.

Praise him O fire and hail! O snow and mist! O Stormy wind, O mountains, and all hills! O fruit trees! And all cedars! O beasts and all livestock! O crawling creatures! And flying birds! O kings of the earth! And all peoples! O princes!
and all earthly rulers! O young men and maidens! Together with old men!
and children! Let them praise the name of the LORD for his name, and it alone, is exalted! And his mighty majesty is high above heaven and earth because:

“He has raised up on high a horn for his people,
     praise for all his saints,
          for the sons of Israel who are near him.

In the Old Testament “horn” is code for the ultimate strength. And the “horn” that our God raised up for us is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ: Son of God and Son of Man.

He first raised him up from the waters of baptism, where he defeated the powers of the deep, and sanctified all water making it a baptism unto life: so that “all who believe and are baptized, will be saved.” (Mk 16:15)

He then raised him up on the cross, which is not a sign of defeat, but rather of victory, because by the death of the cross Jesus entered the “strong man’s house,” and disheveled it beyond repair.

“By his death he destroyed death,
and brought life and immortality to light.”

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto myself,” (Jn 12:32) says our Lord. And so today, we too: lift high the cross, and proclaim the love of Christ for all.

Then he was raised from the grave, and so Saint Paul declares to us, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:11)

Finally he was raised up into heaven and was given the name that is above all names! So that at the name of Jesus every knee in heaven and on earth and beneath the earth must bend, and every tongue confess that: Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:12)

And so let our praises, and our joy continue. Take the highs we enjoy in this season along with you each day – and they will raise up your valleys, and level the mountain that stands in your way. By our Lord’s resurrection you can instruct that mountain to be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and it will move for you, as we travel the High Way to our God. Amen.