A sermon preached by Pastor Robert Schaefer
First and Spring Creek Lutheran Churches
The Resurrection of Our Lord – March 27, 2005
Text: John 20:18
Friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It’s Easter Day. It’s finally here. After weeks of building up to it, the Great Sunday has arrived at last, the day in which we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection from the grave.
And in a way, it’s a little anticlimactic, don’t you think?
I mean, we greeted each other just now with the ancient call and response: “He is risen!” “He is risen indeed!” But there never was any doubt for you and me how this would all turn out. We are privileged to live in a world which, for us, has always known the grace of God’s Easter. There has never been a day in our lives when “He is risen indeed!” has been untrue. For all our doubts and shortcomings, the concrete, absolute truth of the Resurrection has always been the reality in which we lived, moved and had our being, whether we knew it or not. The good news of Easter really isn’t news to us at all – rather, it’s the “old, old story” of the hymn-writer’s lyric.
I ran headlong into this fact trying to decide what God was leading me to say from the pulpit this festive morn. Only three years into it, and already I struggle with Easter Day! As a preacher, I always catch myself hoping to say something new, something that catches you unawares and plants God’s love in your heart. The problem is that as much as I desire to tell you something new and refreshing each week, in reality a preacher is called to be nearer a broken phonograph than an creative genius. We’re given the same message Mary Magdalene brought to Jesus’ friends early one morning when hope seemed lost: “I have seen the Lord!” And then we are to tell you, just like Mary, the things he has spoken to us through his Word – the old good news that, to borrow Paul’s words, “you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”
Why keep saying the same thing again and again? Why keep repeating the story we know so well? Why go on telling the news that isn’t so new anymore, week after week, even though we’ve already heard it all?
Every time I talk to my mom on the phone, she makes sure to say, “I love you,” before she hangs up. Now, I know my mom loves me, and Dad and Jeff, too. It isn’t any truer when she says it into the receiver than when the call gets dropped and she doesn’t get the chance. If Mom never took the time to say those words to me again, I know they’d still be true, just the same. The reality of my mom’s love for me doesn’t depend on it being told again and again and again.
And yet she continues to say it.
See, the very best truths in life are worth repeating. They aren’t any more or less true if you say them often, but our hearts need to hear truths like these. Though I know nothing can change it, I am glad to hear those words that promise me my mother’s love, just the same. And though I know that Jesus’ resurrection is a matter of fact, a victory accomplished once and for all long before I was born, my soul needs to hear the old news again and again and again.
There’s nothing new about Easter Day; there’s nothing here for me to say that you’ve never heard before. And that’s exactly the point.
God grant you joy in hearing once again the old, old story of Jesus and his love for you, the love that threw wide heaven’s gates to welcome you in. Amen.