06 Easter 01 Easter Sunday
Yes, Yes it is so. This is most certainly true. So be it. This is what I believe. These statements can all be summed up in one word. And that word is “amen.” It is a word that seems to mark the end of prayers and is used for very little else. It can be easily spoken, without necessarily thinking about the meaning behind it.
That is also a danger with Easter as well. Do you find it strange that when a holiday comes up, the way we celebrate it is by driving ourselves to the brink of insanity with all the pressures and preparations, so that the close the day gets, the more and more we look forward to it being over. And if you are not careful, you can miss it. A very wise man once said, “The trick to Easter is being able to talk about the same message in a way that is new.” And that is why this morning we are going to be talking about the word, “Amen.”
During these past six weeks of Lent we have been looking at the Lord’s prayer, each week we would look at a different part. It was structured in such a way that by the time we got to Easter there would literally be one word left, and that word is, “Amen.” But why in the world would you have this one word as the theme for Easter? Because Easter, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, is the final word.
The first chapter of 2 Corinthians reads, “Jesus is the divine yes…For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say “Amen” when we give glory to God through Christ.” Does God keep his promises? The answer is a resounding “yes” and that “yes” is the man Jesus.
There are so many things in our lives that demand our attention. It can seem like life is nothing more than moving and jumping from one set of problems, trials and temptations, to another. We get ourselves through by saying, if only I can… If only I can make it to the next paycheck. If only I can get past this assignment. If only I can make it through this surgery. It is not a very fulfilling way to live. Simply trying to get by does not do anyone much good. And besides we were made to live for so much more than just surviving our problems. We were made to experience life, and life as it was meant to be lived.
So what do we do? I mean this all sounds good, and it looks good on paper, but where does the rubber hit the road, what does this look like in real life, out there in the real world. It may sound good in these four walls, but does it mean anything when we leave this building? The technical theological answer is, “Yup.” Because we find in Easter not just a hope for life after death, but a life that is now, a life that has meaning and purpose and even hope. A life where Easter is the final word.
When our dear Pastor Koch passed away, it was a time of many many questions from David, my six year old. Just about every day he would ask, “Dad, why did Pastor Koch die?” And every time he would ask the question, my head would flood with theological responses. I was thinking about how the effects of sin in our world has made our world broken. Therefore things just don’t work the way they were intended to work. So because of sin in our world, there is sickness and suffering, pain and death. And this not that these things happen as a result of our sins, God is not zapping us for our sins. He’s not petty like that. But when sin entered into the creation, the creation broke. And the result of that brokenness, pain, suffering, sickness, separation, death. But how do you explain that to a six year old. After wading through those in my head, I would say something to the effect of, “Well, he was very sick. But you know what? He is not going to stay dead, because when Jesus comes back, then Pastor Koch will come back to life. That is what Easter is all about.” You could just look at my David and see him processing the information. If he was a computer his little hard drive indicator light would have been flashing. Then he would say, “I miss Pastor Koch.” And then he would be off on his way playing. It strikes me how much differently children process information than adults do.
Several weeks after that discussion. I was hanging up my coat after a typical day of work. But my movements were much slower than normal. I felt as if I had been weighed down with grief and still very much missing a very dear friend, mentor, my own pastor. David saw me and asked, “Dad what is wrong?” I replied, “Daddy misses Pastor Koch.” David, without missing a beat said, “It’s OK , Dad. Remember Easter?”
He got it. It blew me away, it shouldn’t have, but it did. He knew that Easter is the final word, and that because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, death is not the end, death does not get the final say, death is only temporary. And we proclaim that loudly, boldly and confidently as we declare, “HE IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN INDEED. ALLELULIA.
You see, Easter is not just a day, it is hope and life for us. Where does one find the strength to face the problems and struggles of life? Easter. Because in that is the promise of restoration. Where does one find the strength to deal the with the trials and struggles that come up in our relationships? Easter. Because in that is restoration. Where does one find the ability, the motivation, the courage to work to make this world a better place? Easter. Because in that is the promise of renewal.
The struggles that we have in life, the problems we face at school or work, at home, in life in general, these things in the light of Easter have nothing to look forward to but being gone. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, our sins have been paid for, our relationships restored. We have been bought and brought into the Kingdom of God and are able to live in that now. And are able to be about the work of spreading that Kingdom, now. Easter is the last word, because all that is broken and hurting and suffering in our lives and in our world will be healed. Even death is not the final word. Easter is. That is why, today we are looking at Amen.
The book of Revelation is probably the most misunderstood book in all of the Scriptures. We are studying it on Tuesday mornings, and it is absolutely amazing. In Chapter 3 our Risen Lord Jesus describes himself as “the one who is the Amen – the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation.” Where we normally reserve “Amen” for the endings, Jesus here uses it as the beginning. He is the firstborn form the dead. He is the first to be part of the resurrection. He is the first to have gone through Easter. And because Easter is the last word, Amen. Then Jesus, who is faithful and true, begins the new creation of God, that is the restoration, reconciliation and renewal, he begins those things with Easter. Jesus is the Amen.
We find in this then the motivation and the strength, the abilities and the hopes to live our lives in a way where Easter is the last word. When it is so easy for life feel like there is not much meaning. When it is tempting to simply move from one problem to the next. When you look at the problems in your own life, and in the world around us and say, “What difference does it make? There is always going to be something.” It is in Easter, in this final Amen. In this promise of restoration and renewal that we find the strength and ability to move and work and live in order to make a difference. We can work to make this world a better place, because we know that work will not be done in vain. And then, in this, in Easter, in this final word, we find purpose and meaning, and hope. Who doesn’t need those things in their life?
And so this morning. We proclaim boldly, knowing that in this resurrection the price of our sins has been accepted, that we have life that never ends, that we have purpose and meaning and value and hope. We know that Easter is the last word, not death. And so we boldly and confidently, and full of hope proclaim, HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELULIA!, and what else is there to say, but AMEN.