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Archive for April 2009

Third Sunday of Easter, April 26th, 2009 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church

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Easter III April 26th 2009 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Acts 3:12-19 Psalm 4 1 John 3:1-7 Luke 36b-48

The Appearances of Christ

When we read about the appearances of the risen Lord, we usually ask ourselves, “Did that really happen?” It is hard to believe. Even the disciples in that day, when all these events were fresh, because they just happened, either ran away in fear and disbelief or could not believe because of their overwhelming joy. “It was too good to be true!”

In the Nicene Creed we confess the resurrection in this way: “On the third day Jesus rose again in accordance with the Scriptures.” I always wondered why we put it that way. Why say “he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”?

Ah, when we read and study the scriptures in the Holy Spirit, we hear our God speaking to us and promising to be with us and save us. If you notice, in our appearance story this morning Jesus does a Bible study with his disciples. The risen Lord says, “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:44). That’s just what we do in every Sunday morning service. Jesus does the same thing when he accompanies the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. After he opened their eyes and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread, that is Holy Communion, they asked each other: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:37)

Here in our lesson, Jesus explains how the Messiah had to rise from the dead on the third day so that repentance [leading to the ability] to forgive, be proclaimed in his name to all nations, to all people.

Let us turn to the scriptures limiting ourselves to Moses, because it would take too much time to go through the Prophets and Psalms as well. Remember how God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and called him to free the Hebrew slaves? God’s heart ached with compassion hearing their cry under slavery’s heavy oppression. God does not remain in divine heavenly glory, but love brings God down to be with God’s chosen people on earth. (Remember how in the cool of the evening God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve? But I want to stay with Moses.)

Then we read how the Almighty, almighty with love, empathy, and compassion led the people of the Exodus with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The pillar of fire gave them light and protection by night. God’s cloud would ascend from the camp in the morning and lead them to their new resting place for the night.

Now from the burning bush, God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” That name that is not a name, can also mean, “I will appear to you in whatever form I wish to appear in.” Thus in the burning bush that did not consume the branches, in the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, God appeared in different forms. But the scriptures also say that God appeared to Moses and spoke to him face to face.

God did not appear to Moses in all God’s glory, because no one can see God’s face that way and live. But it was in these forms that God’s compassion, descended to be with the children of Israel. The scriptures record how God with us, Immanuel, God’s compassion came down to be with us, and even appeared to the people of Israel, to Moses and Aaron, who ate and drank together in God’s presence, just like we celebrate Holy Communion.

You see, it was in many and various ways God appeared to us, but in these New Testament times, God came down to be with us, Immanuel, by sending the beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who was born in a cradle in Bethlehem, died on that cross outside the walls of Jerusalem, who beforehand, had spread the love, empathy, compassion, and healing, in his marvelous ministry, which kept making the disciples ask, “Who could this person be?” and whose beloved Father in heaven awakened him from the dead, and he arose and now appeared to them as they worshiped.So in many and various ways God appeared of old, but now God had come in the form of a human being and was born and died as Jesus.

It was because they were so shocked, he bade them to look at his hands and his feet and see that he had flesh and bones. Here he did not show them his nail wounds, but that he was made of flesh and bones. Risen from the dead, he was no longer made of earthly flesh and blood, but was in his transfigured heavenly body. But to show them that he was no ghost, he asked for a morsel to eat and they gave him some fish and he ate it before them! I’m so glad we will still eat food in that heavenly banquet to come. I sure love to eat! There will be a great feast on that “great getting up morning” where I’ve got a robe, you have a robe, and all God’s children have a robe!

Well, Jesus had a lot of forgiving to do. He forgave his crucifiers as they nailed him to the cross: “Father forgive them they know not what they do!” Then all the disciples who denied, deserted, and betrayed him. And what a way we turned the tables on God. We chose a murderer Barabbas over God’s beloved Son. But God turned the tables on us by raising the beloved Son from the grave and having him appear to his disciples.

In these appearances, the disciples were changed into apostles. When appearing in the burning bush, God sent Moses, on that mission of compassion. He was to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” Now Mary, Peter, James, John, and all the others were also being sent. Death and the shadow of death did not make them cower with fear any longer. In the power of his faith in the risen Christ, for example, Peter heals a beggar who is a cripple right in front of the temple and preaches Christ fearlessly right in it; right smack in the temple! That is why John says, “The world does not know us just like it did not know him. [But] beloved, we are God’s children now and what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this; when he is revealed we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 John 3: 1b-2). That means when Jesus appears to us, we turn into a Christ. You can see that Peter turned not only into an apostle but into a Christ, because God, who is coming again to dwell with us, will make this world the new creation. At that time, O God, Thy will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. God was in Peter, convicting those who had murdered the beloved Son, and Peter the new Christ preached a repentance that also leads us to forgive those who sin against us like we ourselves have been forgiven by God.

Thus the beloved community with its joyful economy of abundance begins to spread around us as we proclaim the Lord of life and trust him as our Lord and God. What can an economy of scarcity, what can an economic down-turn do to us who are raised up? What can the earthly empires do to us more than the Romans did to Jesus? They used that cross to control everyone by the fear of death, by the brutal torture and death of the cross. But God changed that cross into the symbol of the greatest love the world has ever known and trusting in the one who spreads forgiveness, opens the way to the first garden once more and where Christ reigns over us all with the love and trust from the streams of the river of life flowing through the new Jerusalem.

You see Adam and Eve were made in the image of God and the beloved Son, Jesus is the image in which they and all of us are created. So being the resurrection people as we were called yesterday at Lucille Davis’ memorial service, we too are raised from the dead in the presence of our risen Lord! We are lifted up out of the shadow of the valley of death into the sunshine from the mountain tops where the face of the Lord shines upon us and blesses us with the light of a wholly new day.

And God is raising up a new people for Christ. We, who are faithful, may be wandering for centuries through the wilderness, but Christ will lead the people of this world through our churches into the Promised Land, where Christ rules with love and trust and brings the promises of life in abundance. No longer will people lord it over each other and inflict death and spread the fear of torture and death for the sake of control.

Christ bids us proclaim repentance. We ought to declare a day of grief, mourning, and repentance throughout our land for the water-boarding and the other forms of brutal interrogation we used because what our government did has made us all guilty as sin. Look at the mass murders taking place in our society almost on a daily basis! How else can we change the pockets of death among us in which suicides continually pull many people into the abyss of death with them into the very opposite, into fountains of love, out of which marvelous new life spurts and splashes up happily like the geyser Old Faithful to spread the water of life over the Earth?

We will not learn war anymore in the beloved community, suicide bombers will be replaced by moving raptures of tender forgiveness and love. Hell will be vanquished as heaven takes hold of the earth. It will be the kairos time of love, trust, empathy, and tender-hearted compassion for the least of these and for all the oppressed of the world, as Christ lifts them up. It is no longer Moses leading the Exodus, but Christ, the light to all the nations, leading the peoples of the earth in many Exoduses and Passovers into the places of the resurrection where we all have learned the repentance that leads to forgiveness.

Now what about you? Is Bethlehem dead? Is it languishing under the valley of the shadow of death or will it be raised up in the light of the resurrection? Will you rise up with Christ on this “great getting up morning”? Will you all become the people of the resurrection in the overflowing grace of God? Will you let the risen Christ open your heart with the scriptures and open your eyes with his breaking of the bread? Will you make your stand and be Christ’s witnesses in this sorry world, in this place in Oakland? Will you shout together with me? Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah! Amen.

Note: When reading the first books of the Bible, it is as if God is the main character, and this Immanuel is the one who became a human being in Jesus Christ. I just finished reading Juergen Moltmann’s, Sein Name ist Gerechtigkeit, (His Name is Righteousness), (Guetersloh: Guetersloher Verlaghaus, 2008). This book influenced my sermon a good deal.


Written by peterkrey

April 26, 2009 at 5:47 am

Posted in 1, Selected Sermons

Peasant Song for a Plagued Husband, translated from the Plattdeutsch, April 19, 2009

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Whenever my father felt criticized by my mother, he would do some humorous self-pity with the words “Ich bin ein geplagter Eheman!” I found this poem in low German and it dates before 1860; he was probably quoting it.

Peasant song for a plagued husband

From my ornery wife,

I get nothing but strife.

Just misery and plagues

all of my days.

When the day breaks

Hollering starts, for goodness sakes.

Potts and the pan from under the bed

She will throw right at my head.

Ah, neighbor, for my regret

Pour me a cup of kindness yet,

But give me a heads up

If you see my wife come in the pub.

Bauernlied auf einen geplagten Ehemann

Von enem boesem Wief

Da krig ik nix as Kief

Min Elend un min Plag

De heff ik alle Dag.

So bald de Dag brikt an,

So geiht dat Schellen an,

All Schoetteln un all Pott

Schmitt sei mi an den Kopp.

Ach, Nabersch, lent mi doch

Fuer enen Soessling noch.

Doch lat’t min Fro nit sehn,

Wenn se villicht inkeem!

No author given. Taken from Google books: H. Eschenhagen, Album: Plattdeutscher Gedichte, (Berlin: Verlach von E. Schott und Comp., 1860), page 10.

Written by peterkrey

April 22, 2009 at 4:17 am

Posted in My Poems, Translation

Communion Blessings

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Second Sunday of Christmas

Before the sun, moon, and stars, Christ was the Light of the world, pouring love into our lives, and strong, to give us salvation.

Christmas Day, 2009

God sends us Christmas gifts from heaven above: the light in which we see light, the light in which we receive self-knowledge that banishes the darkness.

Second Advent (December 6, 2009)

Hear ye, valleys; hear ye, mountains; hear you crooked ways, you rough places; prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Christ the King, last Sunday in Pentecost (November 22, 2009)

Let Christ rule in your hearts, so that you become of help where there is no help!

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost (September 13, 2009) (Monday is the Day of the Holy Cross)

Rejoice in your suffering! Behind the cross lies the glorious resurrection!

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (August 30, 2009)

From the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, we receive the discipline that raises up our gifts from the grave in which they were buried, to be used for the needs of our neighbors.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (August 16, 2009)

Like goslings with a mother goose, let us bond to Jesus Christ our Lord and like gospel goslings, let us follow Jesus in a line wherever he leads us in the world. Amen.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 9, 2009:

“Left on our own we cannot love and we cannot forgive, but with Christ in our hearts, with the Holy Spirit, we can’t help loving, we can’t help forgiving others.

Pentecost, August 2nd, 2009:

Praise the Lord! Jesus shows up when we are hungry, because he is our Bread from Heaven.

Pentecost, May 31, 2009, after using Ezekiel 37: 1-14 and the Prophet in the Valley of Dry Bones:

The living water of the Holy Spirit washes away our infections, washes away our diseases, washes away our sin, and washes away death, so that our dry bones rise up and walk in the newness of life. Amen.

About God’s Friendship, May 17, 2009

God’s friendship includes nature: the earth, air, sea, and all her creatures, giving us a taste of God’s friendship, too.

Good Shepherd Sunday, May 3, 2009

We have a compassionate good Shepherd, who searches for us when we’ve gone astray, seeks us when we are lost, finds us, slings us over his shoulders, and brings us home. Amen.

Communion Blessing, April 19, 2009:

By the nail-holes in his hands and feet, and his riven side; by the wounds of Jesus we are healed and by his death we have won everlasting life. Amen.

The blessing for every Sunday:

The body of our Lord Jesus Christ and his precious blood, strengthen and preserve you in true faith unto everlating life! Depart in peace.

Written by peterkrey

April 20, 2009 at 12:57 am

Posted in Blessings

Festival of the Resurrection at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Oakland, CA, April 12th 2009

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Festival of the Resurrection at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Oakland, CA April 12th 2009

Acts 10:3443 Psalm 118:1-2, 1424 1Cor 15: 1-11 Mark 16:1-8


In the account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead in the Gospel of Mark, we have to get beyond the fear and the trembling and the misunderstanding of the disciples into the resurrection as we know it from other passages in Mark as well as from this morning’s other lessons for the resurrection and appearances of the risen Lord.

Here three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, after the Sabbath is over, early in the morning of the first day of the week, take spices and go to Jesus tomb intending to anoint his dead body. Salome may be the notorious daughter of Herodias who danced the dance of the seven veils. But we do not really know. That Salome would have had the money to buy the spices, though.

The women had been deprived of performing their burial rites, washing and anointing the body, especially Jesus’ wounded side and the nail holes in his hands and feet. They would have examined them steeped in hopeless grief, much like mothers examine the bullet holes of all their young sons, killed in the deadly streets of Oakland.

All their hopes had wrapped themselves around Jesus of Nazareth. He had preached peace, had been anointed by the Holy Spirit, went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. And they put him to death by that brutal Roman crucifixion.

They were musing among themselves, who would roll the stone away from the door of the tomb. But really, their grief for the death of Jesus weighed like a stone on their hearts as they kept their eyes fixed to the ground. When they neared the tomb and looked up, they saw that the stone had already been rolled away. The young man or the angel in the tomb said that Jesus had risen from the dead, just like he said he would, and he would go ahead of them to Galilee.

The angel was proclaiming the resurrection!


The angels had rolled the stone away and Jesus had been awakened by His Father and he rose from the dead. Now the stone of his death was lifted from the women’s hearts. But in the face of this miracle, amazement with fear and trembling filled them and they fled the tomb and did not dare to tell anyone about it.

What had Jesus told them? “The Son of man must be handed over to the gentiles. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him, and kill him. After three days he will rise again!” (Mark 10:33-34) He told them that three times. Then they also remembered how he said it to his disciples and Peter said, “Never should this happen to you!” and they remembered how Jesus said, “Get thee behind me Satan” to Peter. The disciples never seemed to understand what Jesus was saying and they never followed through. Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, and all the disciples deserted him. But whenever Jesus said something it came true and he said that in three days he would rise from the dead! The thought set them trembling with amazement.

The angel said that he would go ahead of them to Galilee and there they would see him. Mark does not know about Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene. All the gospels tell the story differently, as differently as all witnesses experience it. If each one said the same thing, then we would think that they agreed on a story. No, in reality everyone witnesses things differently.

The disciples in fear for their lives had fled out of Jerusalem back to Galilee and in other stories we will learn how they went back to fishing and the risen Christ had to gather them again. Peter and Paul report that they saw the risen Lord. Mary Magdalene saw him and thought he was the gardener. In Acts it tells how all the disciples saw him and they even ate and drank with him after he arose!


St. Paul tell how Jesus appeared to Peter and the disciples, to five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, to James, and even to him, like one untimely born, because Paul said he was not worthy. He had persecuted the church of God. But Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light on the road to Damascus.

Jesus does not appear in earthly flesh and blood, but in a heavenly transfigured body, full of the light of God, which is brighter than the sun, because it is the light in which we see light.

Ananias had to come and heal Paul’s eyes. Something like scales had to fall from them so that he could see again. The resurrection in which Jesus appeared again and again to his disciples started our faith. Without the power of the resurrection, the movement of Christianity would have been over on the cross. But don’t you see! That is where it all began!

When Jesus appeared those who experienced his real presence became completely changed. The proud Saul, who ambitiously probably wanted to become the High Priest, because of Jesus’ appearance, became Paul, the little one. He made a one hundred eighty degree turn from a persecutor and torturer of the children of God to becoming one of the very people he was hunting down. When the risen Jesus appeared, it always included a sending. Thus St. Paul was sent on missionary journeys from one end of the world to another.

We should not think that the empty tomb tells us much about the resurrection, although when Jesus was raised his tomb was empty. It is the change in his followers that tells us the truth of the resurrection. When the disciples experienced his appearance they changed from disciples into apostles: an “apostle” means “one who is sent.” The cowering and fearful disciples become marvelously changed into courageous apostles that go back into Jerusalem and smack into the middle of the temple to proclaim that God had raised Jesus from the dead, the Holy One of God that the Jerusalem leaders had just crucified.

They now experienced the risen Christ, who had won the life that overcame not only the fear of death, but death itself. It is not that they just proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, but the fact that they shouted his praises right into the jaws of death fearlessly, gave up their lives joyfully, sang songs in prison converting everyone who heard them, because they could not help joining these incredibly new Christ-like people.

Today here in Bethlehem, we have also come to believe by their witness and the chain of witnesses that Marshall listed at our Seder meal. They too shouted:


And we will sing: because Jesus lives we can face tomorrow. We worship on the first day of the week, because Jesus was raised on that day and we worship in his real presence, receiving his body and blood in Holy Communion with him.


And the way the disciples were changed into courageous apostles and Saul was changed into Paul; simple fishermen and several women changed into people who changed this whole world and we at Bethlehem stand to be changed by the same resurrection!

This is the day that the Lord acted!


Let us rejoice and be glad in our risen savior.

This is the day the Lord has made, and because of the rising of the Son of God, we too will be changed into new persons, the firstborn of the new creation, a new Bethlehem congregation in the spring time of God’s new day.

Because God raised Jesus from the dead, our days will be filled with the radiant light of the resurrection.


The death of Christ has swallowed up death. O, grave where is your victory? O death where is your sting? Christ, the embodied love of God gave us victory and now death is no longer – stronger than life.

Diseases will have to beat a retreat; we will wage battles against war. Oppression will cease. Our oceans will not die but live and we will glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who acted!

Jesus’ death swallowed up death and now even death has to serve life. Jesus captured hell and freed its prisoners. Our victorious risen Lord gave the devil to the devil, told hell to go there, buried death in the grave, so that we all could be saved.


Christ is God’s perfect sacrifice, in glory see him rise. He struck the serpent’s head and now death is no longer the stronger, its bonds are broken, the heavens are open.

Now is Christ risen from death’s dark prison, with healing in his wings and to us eternal life he brings.



Written by peterkrey

April 12, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Posted in Selected Sermons

Seven Last Words on the Cross, April 14, 2006

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1. “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do!”

Imagine the excruciating pain of being nailed to the cross, not a piece of wood, but Jesus the most sensitive and loving person who ever lived. Jesus’ pain must have been massively increased, when they raised up the cross and the nails held all his weight.

I believe I would have started cursing. It would be the natural thing to do. But hear the words that come out of Jesus’ mouth: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do!”

This is true. We identify and become conscious merely of the good things we want to believe about ourselves. But we do so much evil together and keep it unconscious. It is like an iceberg: we are conscious of only what appears and rises above the water, and we are unconscious of the monstrous portion of what we do below the surface, that we don’t know we are doing. These our actions below the surface, invisible, treacherous, dangerous, destructive, capable of taking down a vessel like the Titanic; capable of crucifying Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The cross rises up from our unconscious up into our consciousness so God shows us what we have done. We can take full responsibility only because of God’s gracious forgiveness given us by his divinely loving Son.

Thus the question: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

“Yes, indeed with hammer and nails in hand.”

“It is I, I who crucified you, dear Jesus.”

Now hear his words: “My Father forgives you. I forgive you. You didn’t know what you were doing!”

What a gracious Lord!

2. “Amen. Truly, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

What became of God’s good creation? Isaiah says that God built a wonderful vineyard, a people of his pleasant planting. Then Isaiah uses puns: and God looked for justice (MISHPAT) and behold, bloodshed (MISHPAH). God looked for righteousness (SEDEQAH) and behold, a cry (SE’AQAH). A mugging of creation took place.

How ironic that we opened up the gates of hell in Iraq, right where the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers flow, the legendary place of Paradise!

Thus all the thief on the cross does is turn to Christ, Christ crucified there beside him. He stopped the slander and abuse of the other thief. “Don’t you fear God?” He already saw the God who rules the heavens and the earth in the dying Christ, Creator now become Redeemer. He continues: “We deserve what we are getting, but he did nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!”

And Jesus, who liked to start his words to us with “Amen” the way we end our words to him with the word, “Amen” said, “Amen, truly today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The creation of God began with Adam and Eve in Paradise. We have opened the gates of hell and we don’t know how to close them. On the cross, Jesus redeemed the whole creation, slammed the gates of hell shut, and opened the doors of Paradise. And through Christ, being Christs to one another, we can all follow that thief into the Paradise of God’s Presence.

3. “Woman, behold your son,” and Jesus said to the disciple: “Behold your mother!”

Jesus is completely selfless, completely concerned about the needs of others, just like he graciously forgave us, even inside the unbearable pain and suffering he was in.

In this case, even from the cross, Jesus sees his mother, Mary, probably being held by his beloved disciple John. She may have been doubled over, now having had that sword pierce her soul.

Moved by untold compassion from completely selfless love, Jesus says, “Woman, behold your son” and to the disciple: “Behold your mother!”

What kind of a man is this? Where someone would be completely absorbed in his own pain, suffering, and dying, Jesus is still seeing the need of his mother and providing for her out of a heart full of compassion.

It is quite natural when we are sick, especially with pain, for us to become completely absorbed with it. Anticipating bouts of pain in our hospital beds, we can’t see those around us. Someone brings in flowers. We cannot see them or the one who brings them. Sickness, pain, suffering turn us in upon ourselves.

Nailed there to the cross, Jesus, we would think, would also become swallowed in his own pain, suffering, and coming death.

“Becoming curved in upon the self” is one definition of sin. Often the snake or the serpent becomes a symbol of sin, coil upon coil, turned in upon itself, ready to strike.

Jesus became sin for us on the cross, the way Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness. But Jesus crushed its head as it bit his heel. He remained turned upwardly open to God and outwardly to the needs of his neighbors. In this case, his neighbor is his mother, Mary, whom John took into his own home from that very hour.

4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We like to soften these words of Jesus as we say, “Look at that. While dying he is citing the scripture, that is, Psalm 22.” Or we leave the words in Hebrew in order not to understand them: “ELI, ELI, LEMA SABACHTHANI?” Luke and John find them too painful to include in their gospels, while Mark and Matthew include them. Scholars speak of them as Jesus’ “cry of dereliction.”

Mark and Matthew faithfully record that when it became noon, darkness covered the whole land until 3:00pm. The Jesus shouted these words with a loud voice.

The people around the cross also could not grasp what Jesus was saying. Several of them ran and put a sponge with sour wine on a stick and were about to raise it to Jesus’ lips. Others prevent them. “Stop. He is calling Elijah. Let’s see if Elijah comes and takes him down from the cross!”

Then Matthew and Mark say that Jesus uttered one more loud cry and breathed his last. There was only the silence of God thereafter, except that the curtain of the temple ripped in two from the top to bottom.

Jesus was not calling Elijah. Jesus was not showing how holy he was dying with the scripture on his lips. He felt that not only had his disciples abandoned him as well as everyone else, but now he also felt that God had abandoned and forsaken him.

Perhaps he thought that the Son of Man would come riding down on the clouds and put an end to history and begin the visible triumphant reign of God. Perhaps he hoped for some divine intervention in the face of this excruciating contradiction: the Holy One of Israel nailed onto a tree like a common criminal and waiting to die. How could God remain silent? How could God let it happen?

Perhaps Jesus felt God very powerfully in his life, so while his life was oozing out of him, he felt that God was leaving him as well.

Jesus was not only fully divine in nature, he was also fully human. He was dying just like we die, but a particularly bitter, cruel, and painful death. Just like we often do in a wretched experience, he began to reproach God. He suddenly questioned God. Just like in Gethsemane in his weakness, he asked God to let this cup pass over him.

Now as he is about to die, this very human side cries out.

Oh, what dread!

God in Christ is dead!

5. “I thirst.”

Thirst is such a wretched thing. It is worse perhaps than hunger. The mouth just dries out. The tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth and the aching feeling of thirst engulfs the whole being in need of water.

We dare not merely interpret Jesus’ meaning to be, “I thirst for righteousness” as in “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; they shall be filled.” There is a place and a time to quench the thirst of the soul and the hunger of the heart, but we should not spiritualize thirst.

It is too easy getting into a disembodied spirituality. No, Jesus says, “I am thirsty!” Adding to all his pain, pulsing down from the nails in his hands and up from the nails in his feet, and from his scourged, shredded, and bleeding back against the splinters of that cross, was his thirst.

We should not bring the dying Christ sour vinegar to drink, but cool water to quench his thirst to free up his parched and aching tongue.

Christ had to thirst, but rose up to lead us beside the still waters, where we can quench our thirst and fill ourselves with cool, clear, wonderfully thirst-quenching water needed for the refreshment and renewal of our strength of life. Out of his thirst flows a river of living water for us. But he had to thirst.

6. “It is finished.”

Jesus had come down to earth and now realizes that he accomplished what God sent him to do. The Word had become flesh and dwelt among us. In Hebrew the word, “flesh” can mean a human being. Jesus had become fully human and died like any mortal.

Jesus had finished the new creation which we call the redemption. On that cross the old selfish and sinful Adam and Eve were overcome by the first Christ, and now new Christlike beings, selflessly living their lives follow Christ in that covenant of love.

Christ had sealed his love making it ultimate: “No one has greater love than this, than to lay down his or her life for their friends.” Now by dying on the cross, Jesus had demonstrated God’s divine and unconditional love for us. His gospel ignites that love in us.

Not only should we think Jesus accomplished what he was sent to do, but also who he was sent to be in the flesh. He became the Messiah, Passover Lamb of the new covenant. Where Moses was the servant of God for the people of Israel, Jesus was the suffering servant, not only to lead Israel out of the House of Bondage through the wilderness into the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. No, Jesus was not only sent to save the Jews. In the words of Isaiah, “It is too light a thing that only Israel should be saved. I will make you a light to all the nations.”

Therefore the Lord of all the nations is Christ and not Caesar. Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate, and even Caesar are judged by the Christ and found wanting, as he leads the children of God into glorious new Passovers and Exoduses of the Kingdom of Heaven.

7. “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.”

These are the last words of Jesus before he breathes his last breath in the Gospel of John.

People around the cross took fright. The women standing off at a distance beat their breasts. The centurion said, “Indeed, this was the Son of God!” They realized that they stood in the midst of a scandal. But those who wanted to celebrate the Passover Feast said it was a scandal to allow the crucified and cursed to remain alive into the Passover. Thus to remove them and to get on with the festival, they killed them post haste. The Roman custom was to break the legs of the crucified, smashing their legs with iron rods, starting with the toes and breaking the legs until the criminal died.

When it was Jesus’ turn, he was already dead, so they did not break his legs – a fact that fulfilled scripture. As the centurion pierced Jesus’ side with his spear, again fulfilling scripture, water and blood poured out. (John who saw these things testifies so that also you might believe. John’s testimony is true and he knows he tells the truth.)

John is overwhelmed, because not only the waters of baptism and the blood of Holy Communion poured out, but from the body of Christ, the water and blood of the new birth of creation broke forth for our redemption.

Jesus entrusts his spirit, his life to God, his Father. His great heart breaks. His body has given in. His life and spirit will have to leave it. Quietly he entrusts and commits his spirit into the outstretched hands of his waiting Father.

These Seven Last Words were preached at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Bragg, California April 14, 2006

Written by peterkrey

April 9, 2009 at 6:07 am

Posted in Selected Sermons

“Alone” a Poem by Karl von Holtei (1798-1880) translated from the Silesian German Dialect

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1. Each and every person has a place,

to go and sob in that quiet space:

where one does not have to say a word

and where one cannot be heard.

From the house – alone – to dart out

and go there to cry one’s heart out.

2. My place has a gathering of high beach trees

that stand like a kettle in the leas.

No one ever goes there to loom

and never there do flowers bloom.

Nothing is there but loneliness

and me with my heart’s distress.

3. After that when the sun goes down,

a third feeling starts coming round.

From the green beaches it descends like dew

and asks: “Can I be with you?”

With my heart-ache and loneliness

then mingles a sense of blissfulness.

Translated by pkrey 4/07/2009


1. Jedweder Mensch hot seine Ohrte,

Wu a im stillen flennen kan;

Do macht ma weiter keene Wohrte

Und tutt’s irscht keenem andern san:

Ma gieht alleene aus em Haus

Und weent sich ganz alleene aus.

2. Ihch ha an’n Ohrt, wu hohche Buchen

Beisammen in a’m Kessel stiehn.

Kee Mensch kümmt durte nei gekruchen,

Ma sit ooch keene Bliemel bliehn;

‘s ihs nischte durt, wie Einsamkeet

Und ihch mid meinem Härzeleed,

3. Und gieht dernoch de Sunne under,

Do stellt sich noch a drittes ein.

‘s kümmt vun a grienen Buchen runder

Und frat: Tar ihch derbeine sein?

Mit Härzeleed und Einsamkeet

Vermengt sich de Glicksäligkeet.

From Otto Hattstädt, Professor am Concordia Gymnasium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Handbuch der deutschen Nationalliteratur von ihrem ersten Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1906), page 495.

Written by peterkrey

April 7, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Posted in 1, My Poems, Translation

Palm Sunday Resources, also for Children

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This is a song Pastor Richard Miller of Brooklyn composed as an echo song for the people processing on Palm Sunday while waving their palms. Each line is sung by the leader and the people echo the words. The final Alleluia can go beyond three, if someone wants to improvise on it. This recording only intends to give you the melody and the ideas about how it goes. (I’m singing it with a bad cold.) The links to my song list on myspace work again. (March 13, 2012)

The Procession Song Blessed is He















Here is a song that gives the congregation a chance to wave their palms together. Click here to just get the idea how it goes:
Jesus Came a-Riding






















It is fun to recite Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s famous poem “The Donkey” and have the children try to guess that it is the donkey speaking. Don’t say the title, of course!

When fishes flew and forests walked

And figs grew upon thorn,

Some moment when the moon was blood

Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry

And ears like errant wings,

The devil’s walking parody

On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth.

Of ancient crooked will;

Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,

I keep my secret still.

Fools! For  also had my hour;

One far fierce hour and sweet:

There was a shout about my ears,

And palms before my feet.

The following song is for little children, like pre-school and Kindergarten age. The children like to ride on each other’s backs and pretend they are riding a donkey. Click here to get an idea how it goes:
Little Donkey Song


















pkrey, Palm Sunday, April 15, 1990

The following song is one I composed back on March 22, 1998. It is a recap of Lent, the Passion, and even includes the resurrection.

Click here to hear my son Mark sing it for you.

The Passion Song M

The Passion Song

Repent all you believers

God sent his Son

to die for you.

Forty days to change your ways,

make you genuine and true.

O Jesus still our refuge,

when temptations

steal our love from you.

Ignite fresh passion in us

and make our spirits new.

Hosanna, Lord and Savior,

these palms we wave

to welcome you.

Enter our hearts, your city,

Jerusalem anew.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior,

our sins have nailed

and broken you.

Upon the cross, your life was lost

on those rails so hard and cruel.

O risen Lord, we greet you.

The bands of death

you’ve broken through.

Your cross opened up the waters,

and the way to heaven, too.

Communion Blessing: “Come riding into our hearts, Lord Jesus and change our city into your New Jerusalem!”

Also see Josh’s Picture of Jesus for Palm Sunday for Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Oakland, CA.:

Jesus modeled the way he might have looked.

Written by peterkrey

April 1, 2009 at 3:58 pm