Christ is Risen!

April 21, 2019 Easter Sunday

Luke 24:1-12

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!  

Hell took a body, and face to face met God! It took earth and encountered Heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?”
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and Life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the tombs!
For Christ being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that slept. To Him be glory and dominion through all the ages of ages!

-John Chrysostom   347-407
The Easter Homily

This Easter Homily from John Chrysostom is wonderful; however, I don’t quite think that is the first thoughts that the women that encountered the empty tomb were feeling. Honestly, they were more confused as to what was going on. The two men that show up in dazzling clothes, most likely angels, ask them “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” They are looking because they were just at the tomb right before the Passover had begun! They had seen the body of Jesus laying in the tomb where Joseph of Arimathea had placed him. They were perplexed because things like this did not happen. Surely, someone must have stolen the body!

They looked past the promises that Jesus had made and what would happen once he arrived in Jerusalem. Perhaps they just thought that he was speaking metaphorically. They were not expecting to find Jesus outside of the tomb where he had been laid. They may have recalled his talking about a resurrection, but did he really mean a bodily resurrection?

It is easy for us today to look past where God is working in the world as well. Especially given the war and turmoil that we are witness to on the news. The violence that pervades the daily news stream can bring us down in a darkness. We get frustrated when church attendance declines and we are left with more questions than answers.

Some biblical scholars even argue about whether or not there was a physical resurrection. Does it matter whether Jesus was physically resurrected or not? YES! Paul shares this in 1 Corinthians right before the reading selected from there this morning: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).

The women’s initial perplexity at what had happened to Jesus’ body flows over to the disciples when they proclaim to them that he was no longer there. While the women recalled what Jesus has proclaimed to them about being raised on the third day, the disciples are still perplexed, and Peter had to go and see for himself. His faith did not initially carry him, he had to see for himself! How often do we let stumbling blocks get in the way of our own faith?

Perplexity is an honest human reaction. The disciples had spent the last three years learning from Jesus and even began teaching themselves as they went out into the surrounding villages. Jesus had always been there to ask questions of and now they were perplexed in not only his body missing from the tomb, but who are they supposed to turn to now? It is at the empty tomb that the women and Peter began to encounter a new reality.

Jesus promised that he would bring new life and, in the resurrection, we find the promise that God has been sharing with humanity from the dawn of creation. This is not an “idle tale” as the disciples had feared. This is what propelled Peter to get up and see for himself. Once again, we would probably be found in the same place if not for our faith. Resurrection seems incomprehensible, yet God conceives it and comprehends it for us!

The disciples will never be the same! They have been transformed in that very moment when they come to believe in the resurrection and give thanks that Jesus Christ points to new life in creation. God gives us the gifts to help lead us to faith and hope in the new creation to come. We are gifted with sacraments that makes God present for us daily. In the waters of baptism, we become members of the body of Christ and die our own death to only be restored to a new and wonderful life in Christ. Every time we come in contact with water we are reminded of the grace and love of God that washes us clean.

Every time we come forward to the table for holy communion, Jesus Christ meets us. He meets us in the elements of bread and wine to let us know that he is very much a part of us. By eating the bread and drinking the wine, we welcome Christ into our lives and his very presence lets us know that he is alive and well. When it is hard to see God’s activity in the world, know that God is present always, and the physical reminders of the sacraments bring us face to face.

Coming face to face with Christ in the sacraments gives us a peace to go out into the world to proclaim the good news!

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen, Indeed!

It helps us to find God in everything that we encounter, from the beauty of nature on a long hike, to the cats and dogs that curl up on our laps or couch next to us. God is present in our very breath and the winds that blow over this very creation. God is with those that are naked, hungry, thirsty, mourn, and grieve. God has never left us and through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord, we are ushered into a new creation that unfolds in front of us.

Let us pray. Creator God, you bring us to new life through the death and resurrection of your son, Jesus Christ. Let us rejoice in this new creation and the light that vanished death so that we too will come to know life eternal. Amen.

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Let us Rejoice and Laugh!

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John 20:19-31, Holy Humor Sunday

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Easter is a time of surprises and unsurmountable joy! The women that visited the tomb first were clearly surprised that they had found it empty. Then their hearts were lightened with joy as they realized that the promises Jesus had made before his death had come true, he was raised on the third as he had said he would be. We have the choice to be full of piety and take everything seriously, or we can truly celebrate with joy. To quote William Shakespeare, “Whether its nobler in the mind to control the impulse and maintain decorum, or to give in and enjoy this day is totally up to you!”

Holy Humor Sunday is an opportunity to continue in our joyous Easter Celebration and proclaim the Risen Christ! The history of Holy Humor Sunday goes all the way back to the fifteenth century when priests would share funny stories and jokes with their parishioners the second Sunday after Easter. The celebration gained momentum again in the late 1980’s when the Fellowship of Merry Christians and The Joyful Noiseletter began sharing it.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. Never forget that the devil fell by force of gravity. He who has the faith has the fun.” It is because of our faith in Christ and the resurrection that we are able to laugh and have a fun time. The resurrection brings hope and a promise to our lives and in that hope we rejoice with one another praising God in various ways; singing, dancing, and laughing to name just a few of them. Sometimes we forget that when we are in church while we are trying to focus on getting everything just right. In our joy there aren’t much better ways than to share laughs with one another.

Did you hear about the church member that was baking cookies last Saturday for Easter? A gentleman came to her door looking for some work and she had been meaning to paint her back porch. She told the gentleman that there was 2 gallons green of paint to paint the porch out back. He was excited to have a job and make a little money. He came back after awhile and told her the job was completed, however, he told her “That is not a porsche, that is a mercedes.”

Laughter truly does give us new life and restores us when we are feeling down and even when we are in need of healing. As much celebration and joy that went into last Sunday, we are still confronted with the realities around us. We still have violence and senseless deaths around the world that we fail to understand. At times it seems as though it would be easier to be like the disciples and lock ourselves up in our houses in fear. It is the surprise of Jesus coming to be in their presence that they slowly start to understand and our eventually restored with new life.

They disciples were living in fear of what may happen to them if they were to share with others that they are followers of Jesus. There is a proper time for mourning, yet as Jesus appears to them there is also a time for rejoicing! What do you think that rejoicing looked like behind those closed doors? Was there singing? Was there dancing? Was there laughter? I like to believe that there was probably a little bit of all of them.

Jesus brings the peace of the Lord to them when they need it most, in their mourning and desolation wondering where they were going to go from there. Jesus’ peace means so much more though. The peace that Jesus shares with them is meant to bring peace to their past and all of the things that have transpired in their lives and ultimately on cross. It is also a peace that comes to them in their current dwelling of questioning. The peace Jesus shares also speaks to their future as they will go out proclaiming the good news that they have now received, rejoicing in the risen Lord.

In that peace Jesus brings hope to a broken world and knowing now that he lives, we live in that peace too. This gives hope to us for a future with Christ present by our side in all we do. “Peace be with you,” makes a difference for all of us and it marks our life with a purpose, meaning, and a new direction as we look towards the risen Christ.

Psalm 150 this morning encourages us to Praise the Lord! We are to praise God in the sanctuary, which we do every Sunday. We praise God for all of creation and the resurrection of God’s son, Jesus Christ. We praise God by playing our instruments with joy and celebration and lifting our voices up to the Lord. We praise God by dancing. We praise God by laughter and having fun. It is all of creation that praises the Lord and we join in with all of creation in doing so.

This Easter season we celebrate God’s creation by surrounding ourselves with it and being intentional in witnessing God’s promise in our lives. Let us Praise the Lord!

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!