Easter Rev. Ralph A. Boyer IV
April 16, 2006
Mark 16:1 - 8
I saw a cartoon in a magazine of a man about to be rescued after being ship wrecked on a desert island. It shows sailors in a rescue boat stepping onto the beach and handing the man a stack of newspapers. “These are from the Captain.” the sailor said. “He’d like you to look at the headlines and then decide if you still want to be rescued.” There is a lot of bad news out there.
But where would you see headlines like the following?
· African village revitalized by program.
· Italian company gives $75,000 for wounded vets.
· Katrina Taught Australians how to handle storms.
· Golden Retriever found after 2 years.
And Uncle Fred’s personal favorite:
· Restaurant Buffet sets world record with 510 dishes.
Those stories and many others can be found at HappyNews.com. Because they believe that the general media reports a disproportionate amount of negative news, their purpose is to balance that. Their website states, “the Happy News glass is always at least half-full and sometimes it bubbles right over.” They don’t think people should be shielded from bad news – only that we all need some goods news for a change. Because there is a lot of goods news.
This Easter Day is good news. As Christians we don’t pretend that bad things never happen. We just observed Jesus’ death on the cross on Friday. But the unique thing about the Christian gospel is that our good news comes right out of the bad news. From Christ’s death on Good Friday, God leads us to Christ’s resurrection on Easter Day.
The women came to the tomb expecting more bad news. They’re bringing spices to anoint the dead body of Jesus after all. They’re following the burial customs of their people, but it’s a dismal, depressing task. And they’re not even sure they’ll be able to roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb.
But they’re shocked to see that the stone has already been rolled away and there is a young man dressed in white who tells them that the one they’re looking for isn’t dead anymore. He’s been raised. Jesus is alive and he’s going to meet the disciples.
Jesus is alive! Can there be any better news?
And this Easter’s good news comes right out of the bad as God creates life from death.
But can we trust this good news?
The Christian message has been questioned in recent years. Some people are wondering about its truth and validity. And with the mass media, those questions get a lot of publicity these days.
The recently publicized Gospel of Judas and the DaVinci Code book and movie are examples of people questioning the message of Christianity. The DaVinci Code for instance, says that the Biblical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the result of a carefully orchestrated effort to present a view of Jesus that served the agenda of emperors and church leaders. And that other gospels were suppressed. But Biblical scholars will tell you that the gospels that are in the Bible are there because they presented Jesus in a way consistent with what the followers of Jesus knew to be true. The extra gospels weren’t accepted because they presented a view of Jesus inconsistent with what people had experienced and learned from Jesus’ disciples. This isn’t the time to go into this in depth. But in the near future we will be offering some discussion sessions on the DaVinci Code to hear what historians and scholars have to say about how to understand this entertaining but fictional book. It’s a good opportunity to learn more about the history of the early Christians.
One of the things the DaVinci Code claims related to today’s Gospel reading is that the church tried to negate the role of women. And yet all four gospels show women being the first to experience Jesus’ empty tomb. Why let women play that most important part if you’re trying to write them out of the history?
And if as some claim, the resurrection never happened, why would you write the story with women as the witnesses? In Jewish culture, women aren’t allowed to testify in court because they weren’t seen as reliable. You would never make up a story with women as eyewitnesses to the resurrection. The 4 gospels tell us women were there because that’s what really happened.
There always have been and always will be those who want to undermine the good news of Easter for a variety of reasons.
But those who come to the Easter story with an open mind will find Christ’s power.
Lee Strobel was an atheist. He says, “I used to consider the resurrection to be a laughable fairy tale. After all, Yale Law School had trained me to be coldly rational. And my years of sniffing for news at the Chicago Tribune had only toughened my naturally cynical personality. But I was intrigued by changes in my wife after she became a Christian. I spent nearly 2 years systematically using my journalistic and legal experience to study the evidence for the resurrection and the credibility of Jesus’ claims to being God. I emerged totally convinced and gave my life to Christ.”
We can believe and trust in the goods news of this Easter Day! Christ is alive and that gives us hope – hope for our world and hope for ourselves.
Christ’s resurrection is good news for our world. When God raised Jesus from the dead, he was stating that his new Kingdom had begun – that God’s new heaven and new earth were underway. Now that Kingdom still is in process today. Our world is not yet what God wants it to be. And things in the world will not always go as we expect them to go. The people of Israel expected certain things from the Messiah. But God worked in a different way to even greater results. Which is true for our world now.
And God calls all his people to be part of his new and better world – to take care of his creation and to show his love to his children.
Christ’s resurrection brings good news to our whole world.
And his resurrection brings good news to us personally as well. Easter brings us the good news that neither failure, destructive habits, self-centered attitudes, family conflicts nor even death have to be the end.
Christ’s resurrection gives us the power to overcome all the things that threaten us and our families. And not even death is final. As Christians, we allow God to bring new life to our minds and hearts now, knowing that he will give us new life after death in the future.
This Easter Day is filled with Christ’s good news.
A little girl was watching a movie of Jesus’ life. She saw him put on trial, taken to the cross and finally die and be laid in the tomb. She watched silently with tears rolling down her cheeks.
But then as she saw the women walking to the tomb on Easter morning – she grinned and shouted – “Now comes the good part!”
Today is the good part – the celebration, that Christ is alive and with us. And the good news of new life is offered to us every day. Christ is risen! Alleluia!