Let alleluias leap – amen!

Charlotte Dahlke, my maternal grandmother, let alleluias leap in faithful ministry with her Lord.

“Our Paschal Lamb, that sets us free, / Is sacrificed.  O keep / The feast of freedom gallantly; let alleluias leap. / Alleluia! / Alleluia! / Alleluia again: / Sing alleluia, cry aloud: / Alleluia!  Amen!”- Lutheran Service Book 473, verse 1

“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 is risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.’ “- Matthew 28:5-6 (NIV)

After completing elementary school, my maternal grandmother, Charlotte Dahlke (1882- 1956), served as an apprentice to a dressmaker.  In that capacity she learned to sew.  Later Charlotte learned tailoring.  Because she was an excellent seamstress, she made all my mother’s clothes, including coats.  In addition, Charlotte displayed talents in crocheting and embroidering.

Furthermore, Charlotte excelled as a cook, baker, and cake decorator.  As a result, she was in charge of food ordering and preparation for various functions at Zion Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI.  During the Depression years and later, Charlotte catered weddings, confirmations, etc.  But there’s more!  At Zion, she let alleluias leap as she sang in the Ladies’ Choir and served in the Ladies’ Aid.  She also participated in the Women’s Bowling League and the Dartball team.

My cousin Paul remembers Charlotte’s kind smile.  And she always volunteered to help when needed.

Writing in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior (1986), Max Lucado observes that human love comes with expectations.  Because it’s based on conditional love.  However, Christ on the cross taught us the proper use of expectations.  Certainly, Max states, Christ expects our best.  He expects that we leave everything, deny all, and follow Him.

Most significantly, though, an important difference exists.  For Christ couched His expectations with two important companions — forgiveness and acceptance.  In Romans 5:8, the apostle Paul wrote that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.  Thus, His sacrifice wasn’t dependent on our performance.  Christ’s love comes with no strings, hidden agendas, or secrets.  Buffered by acceptance and forgiveness, expectations can bring out our best.

In the consistent inconsistency of the world, God’s finest hour occurred.  At the cross, Max notes:

  • the obscene came so close to the holy.
  • we witness humanity at its worst, but divinity at its best.
  • right involved itself so intimately with what was wrong, as it did when Jesus was suspended between heaven and earth.
  • the good in the world intertwined with the bad.
  • the consistent battled with the inconsistent — and the consistent won!
  • just when we find a place where we believe God would never be (like the cross), we look again.  And there He is, in the flesh.

Finally, the risen Christ appeared to the disciples as they trembled in the upper room behind a deadbolted door.  Yet, something happened to them when Jesus stood in their midst.  Something happened within their souls as they stood within inches of Jesus.  Wouldn’t that be great, Max ponders, if that happened today?

Impossible in a world that seems to hard, secular, post-Christian?  Hard to fathom in an age of information, not regeneration?  Rather than deadbolt the door for fear of the world, we must let alleluias leap.  Instead of dragging our feet and making excuses. To proclaim with the disciples in the upper room that Jesus died, but now He lives!

Therefore, Pastor Lucado encourages:

“Maybe we all need a return visit [to the upper room].  Maybe we all need to witness his majesty and sigh at his victory . . . to hear our own commission again.  ‘Will you tell them?’ Jesus challenged.  ‘Will you tell them that I came back . . . and that I am coming back again?’  And [the disciples] did.  Will you?”

About the author

Dave Henning

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