Supreme Court to California: Read the First Amendment. We really, really, really, really mean it this time.

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On Friday, 4/9/21, the Supreme Court issued an injunction prohibiting California from enforcing an arbitrary rule that no more than three families may gather for in-home worship or prayer meetings.

The unsigned opinion stated:

“This is the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise.”

This is the fifth injunction against California restrictions on religious worship. For this moment in time at least, the Free Expression clause of the First Amendment is still in place and operational.

Why do I say “for the moment?” Previous decisions have been 6-3. Justice Roberts disagreed with this ruling but did not sign on to the dissent. The justices in favor of keeping the First Amendment in place may have slipped to 5-4.

The injunction is titled Ritesh Tandon, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, et al.

Other comments in the ruling are equally amusing.

The first paragraph says:

“The Ninth Circuit’s failure to grant an injunction pending appeal was erroneous. This Court’s decisions have made the following points clear.”

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Side-effects of lockdown: increasing suicides, higher unemployment.

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The devastating side-effects from government-imposed lockdowns keeps growing. The lack of benefits and damage from lockdowns is becoming more obvious with every week that passes.

Merely a few of the recent articles in the news:

  • Suicide attempts amongst youth increasing.
  • Long-term care residents in Canada remain in solitary confinement in spite of 90% of them having been vaccinated.
  • Unemployment rate higher in states with harsh lockdowns, lower in states with freedom.

3/16/21 – Foundation for Economic Education – Child Suicide is Becoming an “International Epidemic” Amid Restricted Pandemic Life, Doctors Warn – Associated Press interviewed a British doctor who works in an ER.  Number of suicide attempts he is treating has gone from a couple a week before the pandemic started to several a day now.

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He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Easter is the high point of the year for Christians.  On this day our Savior rose from the tomb after having suffered a brutal death at the hands of the Roman government, urged on by the religious leadership.

What’s the big deal?

On Good Friday, the death of Jesus paid in full the penalty for my sins, yours sins, and the sins of every person who ever lived or ever will live.

On Easter Sunday, His glorious resurrection proves his sacrifice was accepted by God the Father.

In rising from death, Jesus proved he had ultimate power over death, hell, and the devil.

By that sacrifice, our sins are forgiven, and we will enter heaven for eternity, not because of what we do or how nice we are, but solely because of His sacrifice on the cross.

A few selections of the wonderful and so comforting hymn Jesus Christ is Risen Today to help you celebrate. Go ahead, crank up the volume. First up is an organ only version:

For a beautiful processional:

King’s College Choir, Cambridge

The lyrics:

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Jerusalem Daily Reporter, Sunday pre-sunrise edition: “Jesus of Nazareth, Enemy Of The State, Executed For Treason”

News flash from 4/20/14, reprinted 4/5/15 and 4/12/20:  Jerry Bowyer has the report from Jerusalem. It is in the very early edition of today’s paper. Apparently that seditious rabble-rouser from Nazareth got his just due Friday past when the Sanhedrin and Roman government both agreed to address treason as treason Read more…

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

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During Easter Vigil, we ponder the situation of the disciples and other followers of Jesus between the horror of the Friday execution and the as-yet-unknown surprising resurrection early on Sunday morning. 

The in between time found the apostles hiding behind locked doors. Their fear was well founded. It was quite reasonable to think the Romans and religious leaders would be looking for Jesus’ followers. The time was ripe to completely shut down this silly group of rabble-rousers.

For us, Saturday finds us looking back to the horror of Good Friday while simultaneously filled with great anticipation of wondrous, joyous celebration in the morning.

The hymn Were you there when they crucified my Lord? draws us in to the horror of Good Friday. An intense rendition:

Danny Rivera, Longy’s Virtual Benefit Concert, Longy School of Music of Bard

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There is a Fountain.

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The morning on Friday of what we call Passion Week saw the end of the sham trials of Jesus.

The verdict from Roman Governor Pilate was death by crucifixion.

The Romans had perfected this horrible method of capital punishment, having refined it to the point where it normally took around three days of anguish before the condemned would finally suffocate.

Hanging with one’s arms outstretched on a cross put tremendous outward pressure on the lungs, causing them to be fully expanded. A person would have to push up on the nails through their feet to compress the lungs to expel the oxygen, then slump down to inhale again.

Every breath of air involved extreme pain in the feet pushing oneself up followed by extreme pain in the wrists after slumping down. Eventually the muscles in the arms and legs would cramp causing additional pain.

Slowly, ever so slowly, a person would lose all their strength, being unable to push up, eventually dying by suffocation.

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Go to Dark Gethsemane.

If you want to see what religious freedom looks like, you are reading it at this moment. Freedom of religion means I may express my beliefs in the way I wish. You may do the same. Don’t like what I have to say? Don’t read it. You believe something different? Fantastic. You are free to express yourself as you wish. Please do so.

Maundy Thursday was a complex, messy day for Jesus.

At the Passover dinner, he gave the apostles long instruction, to include a lengthy description of the new command to love one another. That command is where the Maundy comes from in Maundy Thursday – command Thursday.

During the dinner he instituted the Lord’s Supper, referred to as the eucharist, or holy communion. The instructions are:

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (NIV)

He did this weird washing of the feet thing, a task that was routinely done only by the lowest of servants.

After the dinner, Jesus and the apostles went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.

While there, the betrayal by Judas was completed and Jesus was arrested. He was subject to a kangaroo court of a trial which repeatedly, flagrantly violated Jewish law. (That is a topic for another day.)

There were trials by Pilate, Herod, and again by Pilate before the scourging, the cross, and the tomb. That is tomorrow’s story.

The events of Maundy Thursday are told in a mournful song, Go to Dark Gethsemane. The dark melody is appropriate for the day. The dark lyrics accurately tell the story of the journey from Gethsemane, to the trials, the cross at Calvary, and the tomb.

Yet the song leaves us with incredible hope in the last line:

“Christ is risen! He meets our eyes;

Savior, teach us so to rise.”

Second Church

The lyrics:

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Eat this bread.

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As we move towards Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we start to focus on all that is soon to happen. 

Holy Communion will be a major focus on Thursday. This song offers an opportunity to meditatively reflect on the meaning. Sit back and ponder…

Church not identified.

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