Easter Sermon - Christ is Risen! - 3-31-13

Pastor April's Easter Sermon - Luke 24:1-11 Good Morning!  It is EASTER and on this day – we declare with confidence and with joy – that CHRIST IS RISEN!  Christ is Risen Indeed!

So let’s say it!

It is a day of joy and celebration –and in the midst of the trumpets and the flowers and the candles – it is also a day of remembering

 

We got here because we walked through Holy Week.  We walked through the Last Supper.  Jesus washing the disciples feet, serving them the bread and the cup and then being betrayed, arrested, tried, and crucified.  Dead and buried.

 

We arrive at this great story of life and celebration and resurrection – because we walked through the week of darkness and death.

 

And although these events happened nearly 2000 years ago – our experience with darkness and struggle and death in the world is far from over…

 

How many people here today woke up this morning celebrating another day of being clean and sober?

BACKUP PLAN - Celebrating another day of a broken habit that was hurting your life?a

 

How long has it been?  Did you walk through death to get to today?

 

If we were going to share the good news of your life – part of the good news would be to share the part of your story where there was a great struggle – where there was darkness and struggle and pain…

 

When we think about Easter, we so quickly jump to the joy – to the celebration – but to capture the fullness of the joy that was experienced on this day – we have to remember the whole story…

The women are the key features in this narrative today -

they had been following Jesus for some time – probably 2-3 years.  And let’s just say it – they LOVED Jesus – they had devoted everything to following him.  And now he is dead, and not just that – he was murdered – right before their eyes.

They are devastated.  Their grief and sorrow is intense.

 

I was talking about this with people in a recent meeting and they were speaking about the grief of a person who was so incredibly dear to them – someone who was so important – and they said – I mark my life now by this event.  I think about things as either before he died or after he died.  There are moments in our life where the loss is so big – that it changes everything.

 

This is the kind of moment the women were living through -

AS I’m trying to begin understanding how their day must have started – I can imagine that they awoke feeling kind of numb, that feeling you get at the start of a day after you’ve cried yourself to sleep the night before and wake up to remember the reality of life – and the waves of grief sweep over you again as you remember.

It was in this place that they likely woke up and went to the tomb – to bring the spices, to prepare the body  - to do the only thing they knew to do -

So when they see the stone rolled away – they aren’t happy – they are confused – perplexed…

And then when they see 2 men dressed in dazzling clothes –they are terrified.

 

But then these two men start talking to them – and somehow the fear begins to shift

They tell them that he has risen and then they say –

REMEMBER –

REMEMBER – what he told you – the son of man must be crucified and on the 3rd day – he will rise again.

 

And you can see the wheels turning – the light bulb being turned on – the recognition of what this means.

 

REMEMBER

 

Because they remembered – they remembered what he had said –

They hadn’t understood it at the time – but they remembered – that

Death would not be the final part of the story

Death and suffering and struggle would happen – but

On the 3rd day – there would be

RESURRECTION.

They remembered the story that they had been told over and over again by Jesus while he was with them.

 

There is darkness, and it feels HEAVY, overwhelming – but there is light coming into the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.

 

God is in the business of bringing life out of death.

Bringing light into the darkness.

 

This is what God does –

 

And when they remembered, they ran back to tell the others.

 

A few years ago, a team of Russian scientists in northeastern Siberia were excavating a site and found a burrow filled with frozen seeds of fruit.

 

When they took the seeds back to their lab, they attempted to thaw them out and plant them and germinate them – but they were unsuccessful.

But then they took some cells from the placenta of the fruit, the place that produces seeds.

And they propagated that tissue – and were able to grow 36 different plants.

 

Now, propagation like this is not unheard of and so it might not seem like that remarkable of a thing.

 

But when they did the radiocarbon dating of the seeds – , they were shocked to discover that these seeds that they had propogated 36 plants with - were 32,000 years old.

32,000 years old.

Frozen in a burrow – and brought back to life.

 

God is in the business of bringing life out of death.

Of bringing light into the places of deepest struggle.

The story of Easter is about Jesus rising from the dead, but it is also the story of all of creation.  That life keeps emerging out of the places that we would least expect it.

 

The power of the story of Easter is that it comes OUT OF the events of Good Friday.

 

Death is a part of the story – but it is OUT OF that place of death that something new and beautiful happened.

 

__________.  We know you as a part of this community – a person of tenacity and strength – a person of love and compassion – and courage.  And we would not know you this way without also knowing the painful parts of your story – the parts where you struggled -

 

And it is true also for us!

 

The mess and the confusion and the fear and the darkness and death  and pain -

They are a part of our story – but

But Easter reminds us – somehow – all of it – will be resurrected.

that this is never the end of the story.

And that it will often be out of the moments of our greatest pain – where we will find new life and freedom and light and resurrection.

 

This symbol of the cross – a central symbol that we as Christians lift up - is the very symbol of death – it was a roman tool of torture.

It is a symbol of oppression and violence- used to execute and kill –

 

But the central tenet of this faith – is the foolish claim – that it is out of this place of death, we experience new life.

Out of this place of death grows something new.

That no amount of evil and violence and oppression is enough to crush the spirit of life and light that God is bringing into the world.

Because GOD we claim – is in the business of bringing life out of death.

 

On your chair was a flower –

What is the place of greatest struggle in your life?  Pain?  Hurt?  Heartbreak?

 

God’s greatest intention is that out of that place of darkness – something new, something beautiful would grow – resurrection would happen.

 

And so this morning we are going to invite you to take this flower – and bring it forward to the cross – to bring it forward to this symbol of death and to place your flower on this cross - to make the bold and foolish proclamation that you believe, in fact, that God is in the business of bringing life out of death – that the evil and the darkness and the pain and the struggle are NOT the end of the story – and life and light are waiting to emerge.

 

This is our story friends.  This is the heart of our story.