Archive for category #easter
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!
Again the call is to share the journey with those who cannot see this week is holy.
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 of 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. [NRSV]
Imagine having a four-hour walk home?
Travel experiences: WALKING
- We walk from our homes to our cars to parking lots to our destinations.
- We might walk for “race-for-a-t-shirt” or
- a fund or awareness event to show support
- we might walk to exercise for health
- we might walk on a hike to see the view
- What about walking to be spiritual present with someone?
Many would say that’s not for me.
[Note: Honestly, I am not sure why mini-pilgrimages have not been the tradition on Easter afternoon?]
- Maybe walk home from church on Easter?
- Or, walk back to church Easter Sunday evening for communion?
Travel Stories can be very powerful.
When we travel with someone, we have concentrated time together.
- Have your ever recounted funny, interesting or challenging events?
- Past vacation?
- Meet new friends who were strangers on a previous vacation. The Hymian’s
- Events that happened where you are passing on the road?
- Anticipating what will happen when we arrive at our destination?
- Sharing common adventures
If you had four hours travel time. How would you use that time in your car?
Would your faith come up as a topic of conversation?
If it did, What verses would you turn to reveal Jesus to a stranger?
Before we get to Bible verses:
- Some people are better at striking up a conversation than others.
- Some people are slow of heart to believe.
- Some people know the details of the story yet they doubt or are still searching.
A: There is not one verse that reaches and convinces or convicts all people.
A: Some people are uncomfortable discussing their faith and spiritual life
A: I’m uncomfortable when people talk about their faith with it is different from mine.
A: Isn’t it more polite to not be pushy.
Question: What is Jesus’ model?
- He is observant, see’s the sadness and disappointment
- He is inquisitive, asking for clarification
- He is instructional, drawing on scripture to transform the sadness and disappointment.
- He is well studied, and well prepared to share.
One Easter Sunday, the first appearance of Jesus is modeling what disciples are called to do.
When the words are not enough, he resorts to actions.
There is a problem with the saying: “Your Actions may be the only Gospel someone sees”.
- It assumes we have the heart of God in all our actions
- It assumes how we act always reflects God
- It assumes we are intentional about modeling our faith in all situations.
- It assumes we know why we do the things we do in the name of Christ.
All my actions are not always reflecting Jesus.
I need to know the core of my faith before I rely on actions only.
Think of Train leaving the tracks
If I see the resurrection as God’s ultimate victory over death and complete sacrifice of love for you and for me and name that as the core of my understand of LOVE:
If someone says, I love peanut butter or I love you if you agree with my world view, then are they talking about the same LOVE?
Which do we value more?
God’s heart or our freedom?
God’s word or our comfort?
God’s grace or our opinions?
God’s hope or our answers?
God’s patience or our resourcefulness?
God’s work or our work?
God’s love or
Bottom Line: Easter people need to know the scriptures, AND be ready to show them in action, AND meet people at Christ’s table.
Revealed in Christ
The Big Change in the Meal
Who am I in Christ Jesus
Easter People Celebrate
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [NRSV]
Here the Good News:
While we were still sinning, God loved us. Sending Christ to make us whole.
The Core of this passage from Hebrews is found in two parts:
- a. It is impossible for us to eradicate of sin
- b. Jesus does what is impossible for us to do, on our behalf
Grace: God loves us, God hopes we will complete the love, Offers us Faith, We trust, love complete.
God sanctifies us through the body of Jesus
Through the body
- Before we were born God knows us. God is working prophylactically on our behalf.
- Before we have any responsibility of sinning, we have God’s helping grace.
- It is God choosing for us to have a body, born in a broken world, God joins us in the journey.
- All different, unique both autonomous and interdependent
The Goal is Wholeness, Perfection, and completeness.
- God is working before we are ready to work
- God is making a way where there is no way
- God is ultimately ready to complete our brokenness
WHAT IS OUR PART?
This Sanctifying process of Maturing God’s work in our body, time, live, and even then God holds our hands through the muddy, mucky mire.
The Equation of Grace
The maturity of faith is the growing in trust through practice.
Practice: This is the root of my suggestions of “homework”
We practice, stretch, test and mature our faith by taking steps toward God
- Christian Fellowship
- Christian Accountability
- Witnessing, Sharing, Teaching, opening our faith to others
God is not interested in our management of the rules as much as our practice of trusting God in each day.
- Practice with our words
- Practice with our bodies
- Practice with our actions
- Practice with our thoughts, songs, and stories of faith
- Practice with our Hospitality, Worship, Intention Study, Service, and Generosity.
Our purpose is not the be right, correct and blameless, our goal is to be faithful.
- Our Confirmation Class has begun discussion of this journey
- Our SS Classes and Small Groups practice the community
- Our church is the struggle to be the body of Christ with our bodies.
- This is the practice of Lent and the life as an Easter People.
Let’s help one another practice.
Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. [NRSV]
When I was in college I roomed my junior with Jonathon Eady. Our go-to meals were the many different flavors of Hamburger Helper(TM). I suppose it is a step above Ramon noodles as the helper recipe call for meet to be added to the dish. I don’t think I had a favorite flavor because they all seem to taste the same. But they sustained us through that year of off-campus living.
My senior year I moved past the Hamburger Helper stepping up to cans of Campbell’s soup to replace my culinary flavors. In the way one can alternate the addition of rice, noodles or some other starch to elevate the senses. Still a quick and easy method. The trouble with Ramon, Helper or Campbell recipes is the elevated level of salt and by-products.
As I child my dad always made spaghetti sauce from scratch. Not only was it cheaper than the pre-made, it tasted better. My grandmother never made vegetable soup from a can, unless she had canned the vegetables herself. My mother never used canned biscuits because she could make the scratch ones as quickly for less money.
Somehow we have grown up with fast food and eating out, that is not very good and questionably not as good for us. So, I have come full circle; now it is much more rewarding, healthy and fiscal to gather the basic fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs to make a sauce that contains the goodness you need and flavors you choose.
The one thing through all these years is food. Every day, every one of us, needs fuel to do all the things we do.
But we are more than the physical body. We are also spiritual people.
Imagine if we took the example of food and focused the energy, time and resources on feeding our spiritual selves.
Oh, the sermon was going so well until now. I was just getting ready for lunch and BAM! we are back on Jesus.
Just as every person is created with a Spiritual self, whether they realize, accept or deny it… we are spiritual people.
So much of the world is broken because it either denies this reality or feeds on a spirit of evil.
– Do you remember the three rules of being a United Methodist?
- Do no harm.
- 2. Do all the Good that you can.
- 3. Practice your piety. Do the things that Feed our Spiritual Self.
Those who keep my Word..
- Know God loves them “
- Know God will come to them, “The Advocate”
- Know God’s Peace, “Wholeness”
The part we struggle with, is: How do we Keep Jesus Word?
- Does that mean to believe certain truths?
- Does that mean trust scripture?
- Does that mean follow Jesus’s example?
- Does that mean follow Jesus’s rules?
- All of the above? or
- None of the above?
Jesus is connecting the dots before the dots become holes.
Jesus is introducing an easy way to connect with the Holy Spirit.
- It is more than keeping rules
- It is more than saying the correct words
- It is more than a test or a race or a lifetime.
- It is love.
We are spiritual people.
- God loves us.
- Jesus has shown us that love.
- so we will continue to love
- as spiritual people.
John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. [NRSV]
We look around and
- see a world filled with anger, hatred, fear and doubt.
- We feel the frustration, mis-trust, separation and animosity.
- We hear the brokenness, darkness and death.
- We sense the hold of greed, selfishness and sin.
- We can even taste it, and it is bitterness and sour.
- How can the world possible love, forgive,
God will give us a helper, and Advocate, a representative, a spokesperson, a trainer, a coach, a voice, a breath of God’s creative wind. The Holy Spirit.
It is the Spirit of God feeding the Spirit with each of us.
If we do not eat at this banquet, we see what will happen to love
If we do, we find God loves us, died and rose that our spirit can be eternal and that we will continue to help others know to feed and love the spirit.
We start at the table and leave for the world.
- Do no harm,
- Do Good.
- Eat the gifts of love and grace for the work above.
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. [RSV]
Seeing is Believing
- Show Me, What Proof is convincing for one is not convincing for all
- Evidence might be physical, emotional or spiritual
- Understanding is the starting point
Not Seeing, yet Believing is Faith
- Faith is based in what we do not control
- Faith is Trusting what is untrustworthy
- Faith is Affirming what God provides
Faith is the Core
- Faith is generally a process
- Faith is tested as a muscle is strengthen
- Faith is hardened as steel is heated and cooled.
The Purpose of Faith is for our Relationship of Salvation
- Jesus’s Death pays for our sin
- Jesus’s Resurrection restores our life
- Jesus’s presence in the Holy Spirit is to build the relationship
Commitment to the Relationship
- Starting with the Scriptures, Feed your Faith and Belief
- Building on the faith you have seen, heard, read, experienced Test
- Take the Jesus relationship to life: Family, Work, School, Community, etc.
- Jesus makesFoundation for our Relationship with God Through Christ Jesus
- COMMIT to Intentional Spiritual Growth. Bible Study, Sunday school, Daily Devotion, Small Group.
- Disciples were Gathered, even in fear and doubt, Jesus SHOWS up.
- Disciples share their faith stories, Jesus Shows up to Confirm
- Disciples offer questions and challenges, Jesus Shows up for Faith
- Disciples meet Jesus in the process and their life is filled with Faith and Salvation, through Jesus Christ, living with them.
Preaching on Easter Sunday has a seesaw of expectation. It’s Great news to celebrate the Resurrection and a challenge to tell even more.
Jerusalem. A Joy?
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. [NRSV]
- Joy that we have hope even though Terror fills the earth
- Joy that we have faith even though correctness challenges beliefs
- Joy that we have grace even though we want it immediately
- Joy that we have life even though we need it eternally
- Joy that we have love even though our hearts still know how to hate
- Joy that we have each other because the body of Christ is entrusted to the church
- Joy that we have forgiveness
- Joy that we have songs for praise
- Joy that we prayers for conversation
- Joy that we have time for repentance
- Joy that we have history to learn from past mistakes
- Joy that we have a future that is prepared and paid for by Christ
- Joy that Jesus was not just a teacher with good life lessons
- Joy that Jesus was not just a historical figure
- Joy that the Holy Spirit is our power
- to Celebrate Easter is to feed not eat
- to Celebrate Easter is to forgive not hold over
- to Celebrate Easter is to love the difficult to love
- to Celebrate Easter is to live for Christ and not ourselves
- to Celebrate Easter is to bring hope to the sad
- to Celebrate Easter is to open hardened hearts
- to Celebrate Easter is to offer life to the dying
- to Celebrate Easter is to free those who hoard
- to Celebrate Easter is to be the body of Christ living in the world for the transformation of the world toward Christ how lives forever.