Untitled Sermon (2)
Easter John 20:8
Easter John 20:8
Best News Imaginable! "He saw and he believed"
Easter Sunday (B) ,; ,,; ;
Someone has said, the Resurrection is not only the Good News, it is the best news imaginable.
And so, as a community of believers in the resurrection promise that death does not have the last word, we gather on this Easter Sunday to celebrate the best news imaginable!
We gather today to acknowledge that our Lord's resurrection makes it impossible for man's story to end in chaos -- it must move inexorably toward the light, toward life, toward love.
A Sunday School teacher quizzed her class of kindergartners on what they had learned up to that point about the "Creation Story."
"What did God make the first day?" she asked. "Light," one little boy answered. "And what about the second day?" the teacher continued. Again came a satisfactory answer from a little girl. "And what happened on the third day?" the teacher quizzed. From the back of the room, a little lad beaming with excitement exclaimed, "He raised from the dead!"
That little boy's somewhat chaotic account of the creation story notwithstanding, as a faith community, we gather today beaming with excitement to proclaim from the rooftops: CHRIST IS RISEN!
If I were to ask you to describe Easter without using any words, and you could use only punctuation marks, which would you choose to describe this Easter for yourself? Maybe this Easter is a comma for you. It makes you stop, pause, think, and listen, but that’s about it. Or, I hope not, but perhaps today is a downer -– a big bold period. You thought you’d feel excited, but instead it seems to be more like an empty ritual. You feel like you’re not on the inside, but on the outside -- an onlooker.
It was a day when life felt like a period for Jesus’ disciples. He was dead. He was buried. An end to expectations. But wait -– there's news of an empty tomb -- and the period is no longer a period but a question mark. That’s worse than a period. Now they’re beginning to doubt. Where is He? They’re perplexed. The guards are gone, the stone is rolled away. He is not there. And if not there, where?
An angel speaks, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and how He must be crucified, and the third day He must rise again?” Of course they remembered! The periods are gone. The question marks are removed. There
is one massive exclamation point!
That’s what Easter is all about! An exclamation of gratitude and of praise for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of the salvation His victory over death has brought us.1
In today's Gospel Lesson, John tells us the story of the first Easter, when he ran with Peter to the tomb after being told by Mary Magdalene that it was empty. And, entering the tomb, "he saw and he believed" ().
Later in the story, John tells us that the Risen Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, and then to the Apostles, saying, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I sending you" (). He tells us that the Risen Christ appeared again and again to many of the Apostles. He tells that the Risen Christ asked Simon Peter if he loved Him. And when Peter said, "Yes Lord, you know I love You," the Lord replied, "Feed My lambs ... Look after My sheep ... Feed My sheep" (,,). Shortly after that exchange, John's story of Jesus' life and ministry ends ... and ours begins.
With a giant, bold, exclamation mark, on this Easter Sunday, our ministry begins as we proclaim the best news imaginable of the Risen Christ. On this Easter Sunday, we celebrate the transforming power of God. On this Easter Sunday, we rejoice in our commission to be living witnesses to the Resurrection Power of God that transforms death into life and makes all things new.
The Resurrection Power of God comes to shatter the shells of nation, class and race. The Resurrection Power of God invites us out into the wide, wide world where Christ is making all things new. The Resurrection Power of God raises us above every human division. The Resurrection Power of God teaches us to celebrate our unity in diversity, our many members in the one body, our many styles in the one commitment to Christ as Lord.
Come, Lord Jesus, and free us from the fear of those who seem strange to us. Come, Lord Jesus, and rob us of the securities of class, nation and culture, that we may be secure in You alone. Come, Lord Jesus, and resurrect our hearts and minds, so that we may experience the presence of God's transforming power even in the most unexpected places.
Today we rejoice over the simple fact that when the disciples went to the tomb they found that it was empty. But our celebration does not end there. Easter is not only something that happened then, but something that happens now. Unless it happens now to you, you've missed the point of our celebration. God acted then to confirm the life and ministry of Christ through His Resurrection. God is acting now to confirm our life and ministry. God is acting now to give us New Life, new hope, new expectation. This is what Easter is all about. We don't sit here and remember some dim historical event of the past. We experience it now.
Easter is a time to call forth the conviction deep within us that God is in charge and God is good and God will take care of us in life and in death. Whatever your present source of deep hurting -- a personal habit, a broken relationship, the reality of physical death -- Easter is now.
There's an amusing little story about a man who received a nasty bump on the head and fell into a deep coma. After remaining in that state for many weeks his friends proclaimed him dead, and promptly moved him to the undertaker who placed him in a casket. That night, well after midnight, the man awoke -- confused and all alone in the blackened room. He sat up, felt around in the dark and said, "My goodness! What's the meaning of all this? If I'm alive, then why am I in this casket? But if I'm dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom?"
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In the year 1513 A.D., Italian artist Fra Giovanni wrote this letter to a confused friend who was desperately searching for meaning in his darkest night:
I salute you. I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got; but there is much, very much, that while I cannot give it to you, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take Heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instance. Take Peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, within reach is Joy. There is a radiance and glory in the darkness -- could we but see -- and to see we have only to look. I beseech you to look!
And so, my dear friend, I greet you. Not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.
Look, my dear friends, for your Lord. But not in the tomb, for He is not there. The tomb is empty. Your Lord is Risen and by the Resurrection Power of God He resides deep within your soul. Find Him there, and you will clearly see, that He lives deep within your neighbor's soul as well.
With a massive, bold exclamation mark the RESURRECTION is God's "Amen!" to Christ's last utterance on the Cross, "It is finished!"
As a community of believers let us go forth, joyously proclaiming that death does not have the last word, as we celebrate the best news imaginable, on this Easter Sunday!
1-LoMusio, J. "If I Should Die Before I Live."