Category Archives: Easter

A Better Savior


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More Poetry from Steve Brown

A Better Savior
Inspired by the the book of Hebrews, by the Holy Spirit, and Pastor Michael Zarling

The best Savior, Jesus is He
The best Leader, The root of Jesse

The best covenant, His pact is key
The best tabernacle
Worshiping in spirit and truth; can we all agree?

The best mediator, The one appointee
The best focus, The man hung on the tree

The best access, Through the trinity three
The best sympathizer, For all sinners to see

The best resurrection, Now He is free
The best Savior, For you, for me.

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The Passion


The Passion

A review of the latest CD release by Contemporary Christian artist Michael SchroederM Schroeder
by Steve Brown

“The Passion” was released in time for Holy Week observations 2014. It is a compilation of Michael Schroeder’s best passion-filled songs together with a few new pieces.

Vinyl Records and a Trip Down Memory Lane
One thing that I enjoy about Michael’s CDs is that in one way, they remind me of vinyl album releases back when I was a teen. I remember the actual buying of an album to be such a fun experience because when you got home and opened it up, you were treated to an array of album artwork, printed lyrics – sometimes there were even messages from the artists; but the real treat was if a poster was also included.

More than an MP3 Download
Michael’s CDs, at least his last two, contain little gems that harken back to these fond memories of opening up a new album. His last CD, titled “Worship” contained two discs: (1) the music CD and (2) a bonus disc of backing tracks to be used in a corporate worship setting. The 2-CD package also included all the lyrics together with an exhaustive list of scripture references and an article on Michael’s thoughts relating to worship.

His new CD, “The Passion” contains a devotional booklet to be read for each day during Holy Week. It is this kind of stuff that is missing in today’s world of digital downloads. The eight devotional readings are paired with the first eight songs from the CD. It is worth the purchase of the CD just to experience the worship moment of reading through these devotions while listening to the selected song. Without giving too much away, in the devotions you will learn that the first song, the song that goes along with Palm Sunday – was written in a very inspirational and special place. As the saying goes, “sometimes we just need to strike while the iron is hot.”

The Song List
Here’s a quick rundown of the ten songs contained on the CD:

1. Jesus is Lord* – Palm Sunday (originally released on the Worship CD)

2. Handle with Prayer – Monday (originally released on A Witness)

3. The Greatest Gift – Tuesday (originally released on Fuel for the Soul)

4. The One – Wednesday (originally released on Fuel for the Soul)

5. Just as I Am* – Maundy Thursday (originally released on the Worship CD)

6. The Nails* – Good Friday (new)

7. Free – Saturday (originally released on A Witness)

8. Jesus Christ is Risen Today* – Easter Sunday (new)

9. Paradise* (originally released on A Witness)

10. Love Changes Everything* (originally released on the Worship CD)

The “*” next to some songs are what I would classify as “congregational friendly” – meaning these can be sung in corporate worship if you have a good enough worship team to pull-off the accompaniment. All of the songs are a pleasure to listen to and nicely produced.

The Poppy
Poppy
The CD cover art is a simple, delicate, pink poppy – a symbol of sleep (remember in the Wizard of Oz), peace, remembrance, life lost and the promise of resurrection after death – perfect for a Holy Week compilation! Do you see any other symbolism? There is one more important element. Look closely and open up your mind and think about Holy Week and your savior. It will come to you.

 

 

 

Song Reviews
Rather than provide a critical commentary on each song, I will concentrate on the two newbies – “The Nails” and the remake of “Jesus Christ is Risen Today“.

He Nailed It!
The Nails is obviously a passionate piece for Schroeder as it is sung with great feeling and emotion. I think this is so important in worship. Charlie Chaplin, was once quoted as saying: “we tend to think too much and feel too little.” I think he’s right. If us worshippers could harness this emotion in our corporate singing, God would be greatly glorified and we would also sound a whole lot better! Music is meant to be felt. We are not stones. Like Jesus, we are passionate people.

I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it.” – Ivan Stravinsky

I am pleased that Schroeder sings with heart-felt emotions making these lyrics his personal testimony to his Savior. In the church, we call this “inwardly digesting the lyrics”. Lyrically, the song hits deep, as most of Schroeder’s songs do. It strikes a ringing minor chord in my heart. It is a perfect song for Good Friday as it captures the essence of this incredible substitutionary sacrifice – for You! And for me!

You can hear “The Nails” here:

He Makes All Things New!
The new arrangement for “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” to me, is only recognizable with the singing of the title line followed by Alleluia. There are plenty of new lyrics, new progressions, new instrumentation, a new groove, new, new, new… to make this a joyous pleasure to listen to. I guarantee that you will be smiling and tapping your foot within a few seconds of listening to this piece.

What’s really special to me is that I love the original hymn and when this is the case, I just don’t like it when people mess around with them. Leave them alone! They have survived a few centuries for a reason! What I do like, is when it is changed so much that it takes on a new life and this is exactly what happens with Schroeder’s arrangement of the classic hymn. It does have a new life and a new meaning. You will just have to hear it for yourself.

Link to listen to “Jesus ChristChrist is Risen Today”:

A Penultimate Thought
On a closing note, check out the pinnacle of the song titled “Paradise“. You will know the pinnacle moment by the pitch of one exemplary high note. I’m guessing it’s at least a very impressive high G note. It does it’s job. It draws attention to the lyrics and after all, our music is supposed to serve the word, right?

It strikes me that this CD would be a great confirmation gift or a good subject matter for a teen bible class!

You can read all the lyrics, watch a few videos, and purchase the Passion CD at michaelschroeder.com.

 

 

Easter Prayer – O Risen Lord


Easter Prayer – O Risen Lord

M: O risen Lord, who in your first appearance to Mary was mistaken for the gardener:
C: be present with us, and show yourself to us all in all our mistakes and uncertainties.

M: O risen Lord, who appeared to your dejected disciples on the road to Emmaus, and opened to them the scriptures, so that their hearts burned within them:
C: be present with us, and set our hearts on fire with love for you.

M: O risen Lord, who gave to your distraught followers the assurance of healing and forgiveness:
C: be present with us, and bring together all Christians in peace and harmony.

M: O risen Lord, who mindful of the needs of your disciples, prepared a meal by the Sea of Galilee:
C: be present with us, and make yourself known to us in all acts of hospitality and sharing.

M: O risen Lord, who in your final appearance on the Mount of Olives, lifted up hands of blessing on all people:
C: be present with us, and grant that our prayers today may be taken up into yours on behalf of the whole world.

Taken from: The Book of a Thousand Prayers, Compiled by Angela Ashwin
Adapted into a responsive format by S. Brown

Easter


Easter

Easter Sunday
Church bells ringing
People gathering
Choirs singing

Beautiful sunshine
Hints of spring
Easter lilies
Birds that sing

Apple blossoms
Tulips in bloom
Flowers emerging
From their tomb

Easter baskets
Colored eggs appeal
Religious tradition
And a big ham meal

Winter’s ending
Across the earth
A time of wonder
A timer of mirth

Christ has risen
Now there’s hope
Death defeated
Satan’s plan up in smoke!

Forgiveness of Sins for Easter


Forgiveness of Sins for Easter

The following is a “Forgiveness of Sins” written for Easter, but also containing references for “Good Shepherd Sunday.”  It is in a responsive format and is the result of a collaborative effort between Steve Brown (Worship Coordinator of Messiah Lutheran Church – South Windsor, CT and Pastor Michael Zarling – Epiphany Lutheran Church located in Racine, WI).

Minister: May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
C: Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

M: I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:4)
C: I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. (Psalm 119:176)

M: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I know my sheep and my sheep know me. (John 10:11, 14)
C: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

Silence for confession for how we have strayed and wandered as God’s lambs and sheep.

M: He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. (Micah 5:4)
C: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1)

M: And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:4)
C: Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. (Psalm 79:13)

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society

An Easter Litany


An Easter Litany

Pastor:        1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
– Mt 28:1-7

Women:    Christ is risen
Men:        He is risen indeed.

Pastor:        16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Mt 28:16-20

Men:        Christ is risen
Women:    He is risen indeed.

Pastor:
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
– Luke 24:37-39

Men:        Christ is risen
Women:    He is risen indeed.

Pastor:        24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
– John 20:24-28

Women:    Christ is risen
Men:        He is risen indeed.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society

An Easter Responsive Reading based on Luke 24 and 1 Cor 15:54b-55


An Easter Responsive Reading based on Luke 24 and 1 Cor 15:54b-55

Pastor:  1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

He is Risen!
C: He is risen indeed!

Pastor:  4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen!
C: He has risen indeed!

Pastor:  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7’The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

He is Risen!
C: He is risen indeed!

Pastor:              Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Men:               Where, O death is your victory?
Women:          Where, O death is your sting?

Pastor:              He is Risen!
C:                    He is risen indeed!

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society

Easter Reading – Prophecy and Fulfillment


Easter Reading – Prophecy and Fulfillment

Pastor:  He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.  (Is 53:9)

Congr.:  As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.  Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock.  He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.  (Mt 27:57-60)

 

Pastor: because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.  (Ps 16:10)

Women: After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  (Mt 28:1-5)

 

Men: This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.   (Acts 2:23, 24)

 

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society