Archive for category #easter
Read: Acts 1.3 (NRSV)
After the resurrection, Jesus presented himself to them in many ways for forty days. Speaking and teaching about the kingdom of God. Some of us are all like “doubting Thomas” and we are cautious to be the first to believe much less follow. Every step of our journey is different – some are baby steps, and some are giant leaps of faith.
Get to Work! But remember it is the journey of our life that God has died to claim and risen to share. Roll the stone away and let us go together!
Prayer: Thank you for loving me and loving us, loving us all, so very much. Let the joy of Easter shine through us all. Amen.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. [NRSA: John 20:1-18]
The response of Disciples
- All we afraid and experiencing grief.
- Some went focused on the matters of the burial.
- Some telling unbelievable stories.
- Some running toward belief
- Some looking for proof
- Some not understanding the scriptures.
- Some returned to their homes.
- Some weeping and waiting.
the perfect time for salvation is in the moment of being most aware we are broken, unbelieving, afraid, dead, running, seeking, not understanding, at home, hiding, and weeping, for then we were MOST AWARE of our weakness, brokenness, and inability to bring order to the chaos.
What are you doing this Easter?
In celebration of the greatest event of faith in human history since creation itself, what we doing right now?
Most of the world are not gathered to worship and celebrate the Resurrection. Not only because we have not all thawed from the precautions of pandemic, while the world is connected in communications as never before, most are not celebration a living God, with the power to order chaos, fix and redeem all that is broken, heal and restore life to the dead. Billions are devoted to other ideas, faiths, rationalized explanation, or simple apathy and a lack of concern or fear of acknowledging the emptiness they experience in their own world perspectives.
As a nation, we have taken for granted the opportunity of being a nation, that seeks God’s heart and have become an adolescent majority that believe they know more than any God, have answers for every questions without the need for faith, mystery, and believe their own understanding of “Love” can be derived from a self-determined moral ascent of thought for some lowest common denominator of goodness.
My rambling point is that the world continues to settle for emptiness, grief, proof, weeping, waring, and the dismissive returning home in retreat.
The state of the News of Resurrection and Worldview are very similar, then and now. If someone tells you the Post Easter experience is different now, 2000 years after the stone was first rolled away and God’s divine work of restoring a broken creation is so modern, different, and detached… the truth is, we are extremely near to the same response.
Where is the Hope?
The home comes when Jesus speaks to those who are waiting and searching.
The 12 were not at the tomb ready to celebrate and sing, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!” They were at home. For those who were willing to search and listen for the voice of witnesses, angels, and the voice of Christ, find the power, truth, and life the risen Lord have given us.
- For Mary who goes to tell others,
- For Peter and John who run to see,
- For Mary who remains to see and hear, Jesus speaks to her, by name,
- Her response is identifying with Jesus as teacher.
We are the students
- Students know they have more to learn.
- Student have respect to know where to seek answers and direction.
- Students listen, follow, and trust the Teacher’s instruction.
These are what we are modeled this Easter, and every day.
- Confess we do not know it all,
- we do not have all the answers,
- But, We know who to trust
- We know who to follow,
- What know what to model,
- We know we are to also tell, lead, and share with others,
- We know the world needs what God has done and is doing through Jesus, the Risen Lord!
The simple task for Easter Sunday 2021 is to
- Affirm or reaffirm our faith in Jesus Christ, risen for us personally, and for the world, the broken sin filled self-absorbed world, and
- To Claim the task of being the messengers
- Sent and empowered by Christ.
- To witness what we have seen, heard,
- To share what we believe and trust,
- To live the eternal life of love and peace that has been given to us.
- Until every knee bow and every tongue join our praise and celebration.
Let’s get busy!!
Now on that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women in our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight. They said to 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?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem, and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. [NRSV]
In these sequestered times we have tried to make every necessary trip to the store count. We make lists and confirm with everyone that we have pre-identified what we will need so that we can get in, and out, and return home with the most efficiency and the least risk of contact. Wendy has a Lysol protocol going out and coming in, with hand washing and sometimes clothes changing based on the destinations we have been required to visit. We have washed more clothes and dishes and take more showers than typical. So it is good that we don’t go out any more often than we have gone.
Invariable, there have been times that go out and return with the full detoxification procedure complete and in the process of putting things away, we realize we have either forgotten something on the list or we find an essential something that was not on the list and we have to turn around and go back to the store. It’s not that exciting to go back to the store to get detergent or vacuum cleaner bags, because that means that after the return trip and re-entry procedures we have chores and cleaning that await.
But if the missed item(s) are chocolate chips for the cookies we planned to bake or butter that makes everything taste better, or you hear from a neighbor that the delivery truck just arrived with a shipment of toilet paper… We are racing with excitement and eagerness.
Think how much more Cleophus and his wife are ready to go back onto the road, at night, to tell the other disciples and followers that Jesus was alive! He has risen! Just as the others had said, and that he had been sitting, talking, teaching, and eating in their home, that they were filled with two powerful emotions: REGRET and JOY.
Holding two such powerful feelings at the same time calls for juggling. One instant they felt bad that they had not recognized Jesus. The next moment, they could see their faith and hope fulfilled. Both emotions will ignite our adrenal glands and endorphins which can make one dizzy and confused.
We have held conflicting emotions this past month. Thrilled to have family time to be in each other’s company and frazzled and frustrated for being so long in each other’s company. The Joy and the Sorrows in one bowl.
This story occurred on the day of resurrection. A day that many people were with Jesus but did not at first recognize him. The women at the tomb, Mary, Peter and John, Cleophus and his wife, all were present with Jesus but were focused on something else.
I know we have all know this feeling. Frances looking for her keys, Wendy her phone, or me and my iPad: these familiar items can be withing five feet of our person and yet we have lost sight of them. We search our past steps and typically return to find them covered or placed just out of sight from where were first recognized they were lost.
We may look at Easter in this way. It was just around the corner and yet we celebrated at home, without the typical traditions, the flowers now faded, the decorations packed away if they were unpacked in the first place. It has already been two weeks and we are eager to see what the new road to exiting our captivity will be like.
Think about our time at home, as Jonah found himself in the belly of the great fish. He too was confined against his will, separated from friends, family, and co-workers. His captivity was part of God’s saving grace. Our ongoing prayers go with those families who have lost loved ones to the virus and for those front-line workers who are bringing comfort and healing to the vast majority of those who have borne this calamity. We all face what the world will look like when we get spewed back on the shore.
If you look back and imagine that past 5-6 weeks, what have you been able to do, accomplish, or start that you most likely would not have done, completed or begun? If you and I only look back and say, “I thought about writing a book, starting a project, spending more time in prayer or study”, and yet we never used this time; When will you take off 5-6 weeks from work to address these goals and projects?
Some may have some touch of regret for just surviving at this time and not thriving. Other may have completed many tasks, projects, goal and begun many new projects and have a great sense of joy and pride. Some have been working steadily in essential positions and this time has been a double duty that has been anything but a break.
This passage from Cleophus and his wife comes as those who looked back on an opportunity missed and still found joy in having lived through it in the presence of Jesus Christ.
There are many things about Jesus, his teaching, his habits and lifestyle that are not recorded in the scriptures; we have questions we certainly hope to hear answers in heaven. So remember that what IS included in the scriptures is no accident nor mistake. Cleophus and his wife, unnamed, are pivotal characters who recognize Jesus even though they were blind to Jesus sitting at their own table. Look around the table, or think about the times you have been sitting around the table, talking and listening, to others; here is where you and I are most likely to hear about Jesus, about God, about the Holy Spirit, about the church, about scriptures. At the table. It was in the breaking of the bread that this ordinary couple recognized the extraordinary news and reality of Jesus, the risen savior.
Take the remaining time in our sheltering at home to begin or confirm the habits of gathering at the table to break bread with Christ and your family, and yourself. For when we return to the new normal we will have the opportunity to share Christ with the world more freely and intimately. But we will have all the worldly distractions to cloud our sight and distract our attention. Use the time that has been granted by this great distancing to be sitting down with Jesus, in scripture and song and help us recognize Jesus with us, without the distractions, in preparation for being spewed up on the shore.
• In this same hour, tell someone what Jesus is doing in your life and faith.
• In this same hour read about Christ’s work and witness among us.
• In this same hour, pick up the phone and share the Good News with someone alone or afraid.
• In this same hour, sing songs of praise and celebrate Jesus’s work in your heart.
• In this same hour, look and listen and know Jesus is with you, and share that joy with the world!
We have at least 2-3 weeks remaining as we begin to reintegrate and return to the new normal. I say NEW normal because we can emerge from this set-back far ahead in our faith if we seeking the moments with Jesus now. The road ahead will be filled with work, worry and fear, we best be finding ways to recognize Jesus now.
Key: God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.
* But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know- this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’ This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. [Act 2:22-32]
Freed and Flipped
The particular news of Easter is not only that he is risen, but that he was freed from the power of death
- He was freed from the limitation that death marks.
- He not only is risen himself, but grants, and gives us the benefits of his resurrection.
Peter: Tell of King David, beloved like, Terry Flemming, retelling that even he, as beloved as he was did not have the power to raise from the dead, nor to offer that to others.
- David did have faith that God was with,
- We live with the knowledge and affirmation of Jesus, David only lived in hope that Jesus would come and deliver us.
David’s response of knowing God would provide as way was three fold:
- I will glad instead of afraid
- I will tell the world about God’s faithfulness
- I will live in hope that my soul out lives my body through the coming messiah.
David become a terrific example as one who has faith, but has not seen. (as Jesus instructed his disciples after the resurrection)
We live in the fruitfulness of knowing both the promises fulfilled and the witness of the Resurrection.
As we look around at the powerful work of winds, rain and storms and see the destruction and loss of life. This is not our end. There is more to life than propter, and even more than our flesh and bones.
As we look around the world and hear of great numbers of people suffering and dying, we know that our bodies suffer and our earthly tents will perish, but we have a greater hope and faith.
You and I, and all those who call on Jesus as Christ and Lord, know the faithfulness of that we are more than material wealth, more than Good works and deeds. We, even though we are sinful, doubting, selfish, and sometimes down right mean, God loves us enough to make what IS impossible for everyone else, possible for us, through Jesus death and resurrection.
This is why Easter is not one Sunday, but the message of every Sunday.
So what do we do with the Gift of a Resurrected Live, An Eternal life?
Peter wants us to learn from David:
- Don’t live being afraid. Fear can be a powerful driving force, but there is a greater force: Love. God loves us so much that he gives HIMSELF for us, NO greater gift or power is there but the someone lays down their life for one who is stranger, enemy, rebellious, distrusting, or doubting… God does this so that we will believe, trust and also love.
Don’t live in fear or by fear. Living trusting God in all things.I will tell the world about God’s faithfulness
2. I will live in hope that my soul out lives my body through the coming messiah.
The second thing after trust God is to live in HOPE. We don’t live having already been raised from the dead. We will all be confronted with death, but live knowing that is not our end. There is not our final destination, rather a necesary stop along the way that God has for demarking our journey.
Instead of being fearful, be dedicated to living in hope. Confirm that things are not right, or ripe yet, BUT hope keeps our eye on the fruit that will be coming in God’s season.
3. Tell the World about God’s faithfulness.
The greatest criticisms of the church today can be found in this one instruction.
- Either the world says we are hypocritical and don’t practice what we preach or
- They say we don’t trust what we believe and see no reason, based on our lack of hope and faithfulness we give witness.
Don’t be afraid, Live by Hope and TELL of God’s faithfulness.
It has never been about our faithfulness that God is praised. It is God’s faithfulness, revealed in the Easter Resurrection that proves God’s love for us and this is the GREAT NEWS that we are call to share.
When you hear words of fear come out of your mouth of the mouth of others:
Ask what is God’s promise regaurding such?
When we speak words of doubt, selfiishness, greed, anger, or division..
Ask What does Easter tell us about God’s love for us and our enemies?
Every conversation and every thought become an opportunity to flipped words of fear and hurt into a reminder of God’s love and grace
Every effort to praise and share the Good News is a witness of God’s victory in our lives together in God’s glory.
Get’s to telling the world what Easter means… not about the bunny or a single Sunday, but about the whole story for our whole purpose.. Jesus is Risen so that we
- Have nothing to fear
- Have assurance of God’s love and power
- HAve Good News to share of God’s work in a broken, hurting and selfish world.
He lives indeed, He lives for you and me, and for all who will trust, receive and tell.
Look! He is coming with the clouds;
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [NRSV]
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. [NRSV]
When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” [NRSV]
The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly; the right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. [NRSV]
Today we look at the introduction to John’s Revelation to be reminded of Easter. Reminders?
We have not forgotten Easter, it was last week silly. Then why do we have half the number of people here this week?Someone for got to expect Jesus or we were celebrating something else or we ended up letting folks off the hook in a weeks time:
Look! He is coming with the clouds
The Book of John’s Revelation is
a letter of
• warning and
It is book of
• signs and
It is message of
• instruction and
• It is also an apocalyptic exclamations the end of the paragraph of scripture
! BAM !
to the seven churches that are in Asia: [All churches listen up]
Grace to you and peace
from him [Father]
• who is and
• who was and
• who is to come, and
from the seven spirits [HOLY SPIRIT]
• who are before his throne, and
from Jesus Christ, [Son]
• the faithful witness,
• the firstborn of the dead, and
• the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him [Who we are in relation to God the Father, son, HS]
• who loves us and
• freed us from our sins
• by his blood, and
• made us to be a kingdom,
• priests serving his God and Father,
to him [Our motivation, reason, purpose and time line to act]
• be glory and
• and ever. Amen.
He is coming
with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account
all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be.
the Alpha and the Omega,”
says the Lord God,
who is and
who was and
who is to come,
the Almighty. [NRSV]
We have been looking for Jesus for months in preparation for Easter and we still
live in a world filled with evil and we
Don’t have every thing covered and figured out
We are still living in the waiting
Are we living expecting to fight evil today?
Are we living allowing our emotions guide us
Are we living allowing our logic and rules to give us meaning
Are we living allowing the God of all be God of all of our living ?
Them then it is still time to be looking upward.
Living as Easter people means that we look to God in the face of evil in this world.
Evil in our hearts. Evil in our minds. Evil in our excuses
Our call to be all in…. no more holding our cards, but living in God’s hand.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; she told them that he had said these things to her. [nrsv]
Here the Good News of the Resurrection!
- The Tomb was empty
- Jesus Has Risen
- We have no need to weep or fear
- Tell the others the Good News
Since the first Easter, What has the resurrected Jesus been doing?
For 2000 years we have been waiting for his return while we have been wondering in the wilderness waiting for the arrival.
- As the world is divided our hearts are united in God’s love
- As the world fights over politics we are given ourselves to service
- As the world longs for wealth, entertainment, we have remained focused on Jesus
- As the world changes with the winds of emotion and distraction, we continue to find our strength and guidance in the Holy Spirit.
- We are supposed to learn from the faith journey of Israel in the wilderness.
- We are supposed to be inspiring the faith for the generations to follow.
- We are supposed to be trusting God to lead, provide and direct our way.
- Why does it take so long?
Easter becomes our immigration into the People of God.
As citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven we are called and live as witnesses to the strength, hope and love of God…
- We are called to praise Jesus
- We are called to follow the Spirit
- We are called to serve the world as Jesus
- We are called to be faithful to God’s word spoken in our hearts and through our lives
Let this Easter be the time that we empty our bodies, minds, and spirits from what leads to death and destruction and can now:
- breathe in the breath of the Holy Spirit
- taste the bread of life daily
- smell the fragrance of hope
- hear the word of the Lord
- and touch the heart of God as we touch the lives of those who are filled with empty fullness.
What’s the Big Deal about Easter?
It is the gift of God that is the greatest of them all and it is given to us all
Jesus Christ who died for our sins, has overcome death for himself and for us
There is nothing that has to separate us from the love and life of God..
While God does not ever stop loving us,
We are those who place others things, people, values, hopes, dreams, faith, belongings, etc in the place of God’s resurrection gift.
If God has given us life to live for him, why spend it on ourselves?
What’s the big deal about Easter?
- It is confirmation that you and I are spiritual beings in physical bodies.
- We are created in the image of God, by the heart of God, for God’s worship and pleasure.
What the big deal about Easter?
It is the assurance that the sin and fear and shame that we carry does not need to be our life’s work
Jesus gives his life that ours may be the fruit of the new heaven and the new earth
What’s the big deal about Easter?
It draws us together in the aftermath of the fire at Notre Dome in Paris and while we see the loss, we know the church is not the building, the church is the people of Jesus Christ at work in the world, revealing the Spiritual Power of God at work
Our celebration of Easter
- has little to do with what it hidden in the yard and more of what is revealed in our worship
- has little to do with what is empty in the our history and past, and more of what God is unfolding in our present and future
- has little to do with being dressed us and dinners and more about clothing the naked and feeding the hungry
- has little to do with holidays and more about allowing God to make holy our days and nights
We gather today not, with a moment to tell the good news of the old story of the Resurrection,
- But more so we are gathered to give our thanks and praise for God’s promise being lived out through us.
- But more so we are gathered to give ourselves to God in witness by sharing with the world what we have been holding onto ourselves.
The Christian church, Catholic and Protestant, Methodist and Baptist, Nondenominational and all the rest, have fewer members and believers in a declining roll for over 60 years (Yes there are churches and movements that are individually growing but as a whole body of believers we are not faithful to living out an Easter Faith to the world.
For nearly 2000 years the world has heard the story but where is the fruit of trusting the Resurrection?
Let this Easter be a claim and proclaiming of our faith Jesus and the resurrection..
We have been saved for a purpose, to be living witnesses of God.
- In all our effort to cover our responsibilities
- in our quest to get the most out of our numbered days
- In our longing for meaning and searching to understand
Have we not fought the Holy Spirit more than followed?
Have not not remembered Jesus, but not spoken out for him?
Have not learned the Words but not allow God’s Word to speak through our actions?
Easter is the morning wake up call from the foggy illusion of our sin and creation.
- God breaks open
- God sets us free
- God finds the way
- And comes to meet.. Go and tell all the others to meet us
- in Jersualem,
- in the place of worship
- in the dwelling of God,
- in the power of the Holy Spirit
So what what looks different in our lives by living as Easter People?
Easter people hear people afraid at the news about death and remember to share the eternal promise in Jesus Christ
- Easter people hear the division in politics and model what it means to place our faith in God instead
- Easter people hear the words of hurt and we call for works of healing
- Easter people model service in a culture of being served
- Easter people gather to worship when the world says you are foolish and out dated
- Easter people look at the future and know that God who creates will make all things new
- Easter people look at what we don’t have and know what to ask God to provide
- Easter people sing with grunts and praise to remember and share what God has, is and will do.
- Easter people live every Sunday as promise of the Resurrection
- Easter people follow the Holy Spirit as spiritual beings in Christ
- Easter people are not perfect, but are made whole through Jesus Christ
This why Easter is our biggest gift, our best deal and when we life for Christ today. Go live as people of the resurrection, alive in Christ for all the world around us!
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord. [nrsv]
- Jerusalem as a Joy?
- People will be a delight?
- No more weeping and no more distress?
- No more infant deaths or those whose life is cut short?
- Those who work will receive the benefits of their own labor?
- No injustice in wealth and home for all?
- No labor in vain, (note not a absence of work)
- Wolf and the lamb will feed together but not on each other
- Lion and the ox will eat straw
- Serpent will eat the dust…
- Though without war
God is building a new heaven and a new earth.. will we recognize it when we get there?
As we gather early on Easter’s sunrise we remember God is creator
- In the Big Inning, God makes all things
- In Christ, Changes the whole world,
- By the Holy Spirit, God is guiding us toward the New Jerusalem, that we might lead the world to God, through Christ.
In the New Jerusalem, there is not hurt, pain, suffering or injustice, but even the serpent has a place
evil, pride/selfishness, greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, wrath, and envy are no longer needed.
Think of the power of these forces in our world and in our lives
What would it take to no longer behave these ways?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
There is not other power, no other answer, no other hope, no other way.
There are various camps;
- Those who no longer care
- Those who want to prove there is another way
- Those who know Jesus is the way, but trust later
- Those who are free in Christ now and forever.
The prophetic words of the prophet Isaiah
[The whole chapter]
1 I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. 2 I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; 3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; 4 who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; 5 who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. 6 See, it is written before me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps 7 their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions. 8 Thus says the Lord: As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all.9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there. 10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. 11 But you who forsake the Lord, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny;12 I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my sight, and chose what I did not delight in. 13Therefore thus says the Lord God: My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; 14my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart, and shall wail for anguish of spirit. 15 You shall leave your name to my chosen to use as a curse, and the Lord God will put you to death, but to his servants, he will give a different name. 16 Then whoever invokes a blessing in the land shall bless by the God of faithfulness, and whoever takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of faithfulness; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my sight. 17 For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress.20 No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. 24 Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.
Why read from Isaiah at the Sunrise?
When the day is new we can better see the darkness of our past and hope of our future in the Word of God made new and whole through Jesus Christ, for us
- May we invoke the blessing of this day
- May we call on Jesus Christ to make this day new
- May we trust Christ to overcome our sin and shame
- May we speak God’s name and not our own
- May the former things are forgotten
- And the New Day in Christ is eternally on our lips and in our deeds.
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Go Tell his Disciples, “There” you will see him.
A confirmation that the Church is the Body of Christ and a sure and dependable place and moment to share our living Savior.
My crazy grandfather used to tell me that I could not go swimming until I learned to swim. I would reply, “How can I learn to swim without getting in the water.” His reply, “Go ask your grandmother.”
It is in the act of doing that we come to experience Jesus as our Savior.
If I only think about Jesus, then my faith would be a theory that could exist just fine within my own understanding, and you could have your understanding and I could have mine and we’d be fine as long as we didn’t share where we had a conflicting understanding. (skip the opportunity for sarcasm.)
The specific instruction on the first Easter Sunday was to find Jesus, where and when you are telling the other disciples about the resurrection.
Our worship, fellowship, music, visuals, conversations, scripture, and are ways we gather to experience Jesus, living with us.
How do I experience Jesus?
- I see Jesus: in the scriptures
- I hear Jesus: in the music
- I smell Jesus: in your questions
- I feel Jesus: in your singing and responding
- I taste Jesus: in the bread and cup and fellowship dinners, why I cook.
How do I prevent people from experiencing Jesus?
- When I’m not sharing, the world sees the wines of complaining, division, fear, anger, selfishness, and pride.
- When I’m not telling about Jesus, people hear whatever news, movies, celebrities, squeaky wheels will tell, print or post.
- When I’m not telling about Jesus, people smell doubt, insincerity, and shallow words that don’t relate to people’s hunger and thirst for what is good and right.
- When I’m not telling about Jesus, people continue to feel alone, confused and divided
- When I’m not telling about Jesus, people taste the bitterness of a sin-filled worldview.
Q: So What do I tell people?
- Jesus lives for a sinner like me
- Jesus speaks through scripture and the church
- Jesus smells fresh and hopeful if what I’m saying is mean-spirited, nope, not Jesus.
- Jesus feels present and relevant to people.
- Jesus tastes satisfying and whole.
So When and How Often do I have to tell about Jesus?
Easter is the best day to tell about Jesus
- Who will you tell see
- Who will hear
- Who will feel
- Who will smell
- Who will taste
Easter is the reminder of our real urgency that someone is
- bound and
- blind and
- afraid and
- confused and
- misinformed and
- betrayed and
- some clouded by religion
- alone making up something they call the truth
- any of these, but they DO NOT have to be
Some have smelled the difference between the joy of our worship and the judging, barking, and silence
Some have tasted the world and are left hungry
A Word to Disciples
Back to the instruction, with the urgency: Easter is a day to come and experience Jesus as our Risen Savior so that every day that follows we are ready to be the living Jesus until he returns.
Use every way that we experience life to lead the world to experience Jesus in us.
When we are cady, controlling, fussing, griping, condescending, bothered with others around us we are in a danger zone of NOT allowing others to experience Jesus. We get in the way.
The invitation is for this day, for Disciples to regroup in Jesus, as ‘THE’ way and be ready to live to experience Jesus with others
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. [NRSV]
The words of praise. Hurray! Glory! Wonderful! come to mind, but this is a more unique word that Hebrew and recorded in Jesus’s native Aramaic. It is a phrase word. Just as the folks from Athens, GA might say: “How ‘bout them Jackets” (haha, twist intended) it would be a celebratory “Glory, Glory to ole Georgia.” If these phrases were encapsulated into a word we would the idea of ‘Hosannah”
Hosanna began as Lord, God Save us! and through the Gospel’s has come to mean, Highest Praise, who has saved us. So their use of the original context is twisted with the early church’s use of the old testament word.
So we have Palm Sunday as a pre-celebration that Jesus coming into the world, and in our hearts and lives, is the celebration of our salvation.
Which means if Jesus does not come to the world, to our heart, and to our town, then we are NOT saved. Here in is theological of preparing for a life as Easter People.
We usually only read this passage as an observer of a historical event, but it is shared in the Gospels as Good News and not just historical newspaper clippings.
Hosannah: Jesus has saved me, even though we celebrate the death on Good Friday and the Resurrection of next Sunday as Easter, we look at this story of entry into the city as a necessary part of the process.
We prepare for Easter knowing it is our victory march! The ASSURANCE of what WILL be and not just hope of what MIGHT be.
The disciples did not gather to get Creighton’s Florist to order dozens of palms to be ordered, the palms were a response from the people who are making a traditional sign of welcoming the king.
This is a difficult time for us to respond in unison with any unifying act of praise and celebration because we have become a culture of suspicion, rebellion and divided support.
Some might hope, in our country that the “Stars and Stripes” would be an obvious rally flag. For some, it an illicit political protest.
I hope that you will do the spiritual work to see that the people might have divided reasons for welcoming Jesus as King.
Some who were in the crowd that day had experienced Jesus teaching, healing or miracles, while others knew only the oppressive Roman rule, and still, others were supporting glorious days of kings of the past hoping for the revival of political greatness.
Bottom line the palms are unifying symbols of many different individual reasons, some helpful and some dangerous.
Why a donkey’s colt?
Jesus came to town with is Colt? Would mean have met the expectation of many who were hoping for a new sheriff to clean house and restore order. When in fact, Jesus comes in humility to spiritually reorder the whole world and all time.
Think of the Jesus riding in a church parade. If this were a political parade there would have been legions of soldiers, a banner of the empire and emblems of Cesear. This is a church parade. Not everyone entered a float, but the people respond as if it is a political, flag-waving event.
Jesus rides in, not in a BEAST of an armored car, not on the back of a convertible, not even proud Clydesdale stallion. It’s more like he rides in on a pickup truck, not a four-door, HEMI, but a simple work truck.
But the symbol for some would be as if the self-proclaimed president was riding in ‘on’ a smart car. You know that Consumer Reports does not the rate the “Smart Car” in their rating in a polite way of saying: “If you can’t say something good and helpful, don’t say anything at all.”
The palms and praises are the people’s response, Jesus message is the spiritual work that is being completed through the events of the week at hand. We call it Holy Week, but it is the week when everything we hold dear is lost and hope is out of our grasp… Oh, how we long for Easter, Salvation, Life, and Christ!
Wave OUR palms because we need to lead others out of hopelessness, fear, and sin into the joy that aways through the journey at hand.
This is what we share, this is why we praise, this is why we are the church, we are Christian, not for ourselves, but for OUR collective hope in the ONE who does save us. This week of Journey is the toughest part. Reach out to one who is in the hardest part o that spiritual and physical journey sharing the hope and joy that we KNOW is coming soon!