Archive for category #easter
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.
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. [NRSV, John 20:1-18]
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.[NRSV, Luke 24:1-12]
Why Do We Look for Life Among the Dead?
Think of the things that take away our life: We risk our lives and our eternity.
- We risk our lives and our eternity.
- We risk our relationships and our legacy
- We risk our faith for opinions
- We risk forgiveness in the name of being ‘right’
- We risk our salvation holding to our possessions
We search for meaning, influence and belonging in many things, relationships, substances, beliefs and ideas.. when our heart’s home is ever in our face: Jesus.
We come to a Sunrise Service
Expecting to hear a familiar passage of scripture
Marking a tradition when we could be sleeping
Not everyone went looking for the Risen Lord: Those who seek will find.
That is story of Easter Sunrise: Mary is looking, even in her blindness of grief and fear she is in the place where Jesus is ready to be revealed to her.
- Being in the right place, at the right time has some common sense, and is one of the key reasons we gather to worship.
- Being where Jesus told disciples to be, worshiping and waiting together, is an action of faithfulness and trust.
- Being awake and alert as we can be, is room enough for grace to take root.
You and I are the Easter People. We have come to see Jesus. Look at the shivering faces of Joy that come to this holy time and place. Jesus is with us. He lives in us. Go and be the body of Christ, transforming those who seek in darkness, hopelessness, fear and those who are asleep. It’s time to wake, Jesus is here!
- Ideas don’t get hungry
- theories don’t need to eat
- collections of stories and moral teaches don’t need physical nourishment.
- We are more than our physical needs
- We are more than our material posessions
- We are more than the health of these bodies
- We are more than the suffering of this present age
- We are Spiritual people, child of God, joint heirs, brother/sisters with Jesus, God’s people, God’s family.
- Jesus keeps showing up, directing us to OUR purpose.
- We need the signs just like everyone else.
- We need reminding and encouragement
- We need Jesus to show us the same old story because our doubts and fears are real.
- let go
- look away
- taste other fruit
- break the commandments
- are unfaithful individually AND collectively
- THESE are the FAITH STRUGGLES in the OT, NT, and today.
The base and foundation of our relationship is expressed in the Gracious give and take of
REPENTANCE: God loves us so much we know we can ask and God will forgive.
FORGIVENESS: God loves us so much, when we ask, God sees our change of heart and forgives.
We mess us… See list above… and offers of Forgiveness when we repent, turn around.
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 any one, for they were afraid. [NRSV]
The oldest copies of the book of Mark end the story at this point, at verse 8.
In reading the whole book of Mark there is a series of points where Jesus reveals the news about his identity and he tells the disciples to keep quiet and not tell anyone.
At least six times, Jesus tells folks to keep quiet:
- At Jesus Baptism, before anyone could respond to God’s voice, “”You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
- The Evil Spirit’s know him 1.24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
- And Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 1.34
- While healing a man with Leprosy 1.41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
- On the Mountain of Transfiguration 9: 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
- Healing the Blind man 10:46Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!
In reading the whole book of Mark as one story and not verse-by-verse, we would see this is in fact the seventh time Jesus’ true identity is reveal and the young man, dressing a white robe, a heavenly messenger is declaring the news.
So now at the pinnacle of story revealed in the face of the empty tomb. Those who see the empty tomb and hear the first word, first hand..
They are told to GO TELL!
And, they who know the Good News, Trust and Clear: They say nothing because of fear.
The Power of Fear
Terror and Amazement seized them: We live in a time where we hear daily about the unbelievable and amazingly horrific terrorism in the world and we can’t believe it.
Remember the words at Jesus’s birth from the angels to the shepherd, “Be Not Afraid, for here is GOOD NEWS, for the world.”
LEAVE THIS PLACE AND TELL EVERYONE
He is Risen!! He lives in Me and Lives in You!!
Tell seven people today… Jesus lives in me.
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. [NRSV]
My Task is to Remind You about Jesus
- Jesus wants a relationship with us, brothers and sisters, join heirs.
- God has been at work before you knew it or even claim it
- God’s Good News of Jesus Christ is the footings/foundation of our faith
- God’s Good News concerning our relationship through Jesus is to be shared
- God’s Good News is the witness of God’s actions of love and saving grace.
You can believe this Good News to be true in your head and miss the power of the relationship.
- A marriage certificate is not a marriage. I marriage is covenant shared with God.
- When I hear folks at a funeral say, “At least I hear him say he had given his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. So I don’t have to worry about his salvation.” I begin to worry about the salvation of the person making that statement.
- Jesus died and came back to life, raised from the dead, not to hear our words but to claim our heart and relationship.
- (Cartersville Pickup Truck Funeral: [tragic construction related death, two wives and a girl friend meet at the funeral home for the first time.] “At least we thought he was a church going man based on the bulletin in his bible.”)
Paul’s Caution #1 “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain.
I want to show you a simple invitation: a 9 volt battery
Did you know in the National Fire Prevention Association reported last year that 47% of wired smoke alarms are non functioning, and 56% of battery only smoke alarms were non functioning.
Nearly 80% of those had missing or worn out batteries.
On average there are 120,000 deaths related to structural fires. The potential for 96,000 fewer deaths if we knew for sure, that the smoke detectors had working batteries.
When they called people and ask them, do you have a working smoke alarm with a new battery, 74% reported yes
When a random sample went to visit the same homes to check the battery charge level, only 45% had working batteries.
What is the difference between knowing the statistics and actually plugging into the power to have device that saves lives?
-It is the same difference between knowing about Jesus, and being plugged into the power of God’s Spirit, through Jesus.
How many people think the words and say the words, but have dead or missing batteries…
How many people know the stories and see the church, but respond negatively or with apathy, just ignore the news?
If you knew that most homes don’t have a working battery would you be willing to knock on someone’s door to offer them the potentially life saving gift of a 9 volt battery, and if they would allow you to plug it in, you would both know you had doubled the chance that no one in that home would die from a fire.
If you knew that most homes don’t have a working relationship with Jesus Christ, would you be willing to knock on someone’s door or heart, to offer them the TRULY eternal life saving gift of the Risen Lord who died for their sins, and if they would allow you to start a relationship of faith with them, you would both know you had a 100% CERTAINLY that their life would not end, even when their body dies.
Paul’s Main Point: Receive and Renew your understanding of what Jesus did on the cross and LIVE in the power of the resurrection starting NOW.
- GOD knows us:
- we forget,
- mess up,
- get in a jam,
- fall off the wagon,
- the dog eats our homework,
- the car breaks down,
- we loose our job,
- we forget to study,
- we miss the deadline,
- we get distracted
- and tempted…
- we sin, big ones and little ones,
- we drift or run..
God says to all that: I AM not focused on the blame.
- I give you JESUS, my child’s life to cover all the blame and brokenness.
- I don’t want to hear the excuses. (I want see the relationship)
- I want you to see the value of the gift and return to the table.
- I hope you will respond with appreciation/praise for the sacrifice, I your maker, have given you.
- God wants us to see the gift and respond because God loves and claims us first.
- God’s grace is not an after thought…
- along through the scriptures we see God continues to make covenants and we continue to break them.
- God is working with workers who don’t show up to work except on pay day.
- God exchanges the power of death, not just the death of one person, One died for all.
- God moves us past the death of this body, for a living relationship, not the life of one person, One lives for all.
This is what Easter message is about.
- It’s not just about Jesus,
- its about God’s eternal love and value for your life and relationship.
- its about God’s eternal love and value for our lives in relationship together.
- Remember the gift and passion God exchanges for us
- Re/Claim and know/grow in the power of God’s life for us.
So it’s important to remember: Where I see Jesus…
- I see Jesus in the work and pray of quilts
- I see Jesus going in a paper lunch bags shared with hungry
- I see Jesus in the support of small groups and classes caring and challenge growth
- I see Jesus in preventing death from illness like malaria
- I see Jesus in the middle of family crisis, when families feel they are at deadened/wall and see no hope, God opens lives, hearts and doors to find a way through the crisis into a new life, new relationships and new visions
- I see Jesus in the hands of working youth who did more than play at the beach, but opened their hearts to care for families who are hurting.
- I hear Jesus in your music and singing
- I hear Jesus in your questions, prayers and testimony
- I feel Jesus in your compassion and hospitality and generosity
- I taste Jesus around the table when we gather at his table
- He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…. Tell the world, show the world, Jesus Christ lives in you and me. Amen.