The 9am Easter Sunday Sermon From Pastor Karen:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Christ our Lord is Risen today. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
We all know the story of Easter and the days leading up to Easter, but what do we learn from this… how do we take the lesson and apply it to our lives today? In those last few days Jesus was rejected… how many of you have every felt rejected? Abandoned? Jesus actually understands those feelings.
Jesus was betrayed by his own disciples… have you ever felt betrayed? Jesus understands those feelings too. Then he was crucified and suffered… have you ever suffered at sometime in your life? Jesus understands suffering too.
Then he died and rose again… now that’s something we have not experienced! He was hung on a cross… nailed to the cross… and left in a tomb for 3 days…. He was abandoned by his followers.
One of the great benefits of the followers of Jesus and his death and resurrection is that we have learned to have a relationship with God. The separation between God and man is over, we can actually hear his voice…. Once we recognize the voice of God, our world changes. One word from God can change everything.
It is God’s nature to speak to us…. You can’t actually hear the words out loud but you definitely hear them in your heart… loud and clear!
Have you ever been tempted to do something wrong…. Wow does that voice come through… and it is up to us whether we listen to that voice or reject it. If we reject it then that is usually followed by regret afterwards… which is followed by remorse and then we turn to God and ask for forgiveness. Unfortunately that pattern repeats itself numerous times over our lifetime her on earth.
Through Jesus, God has given us Light… joy…. hope and set us free.
God speaks to us because it is his nature to do so. He is guiding us, each one of us, though our journey in this life. One word from God can change our lives forever.
So many times in the Bible, the word of God changed everything. God said to Adam and Eve “Be fruitful and multiply” and to Jacob he said “I will give you and your people this land”
And he said to Moses- “Go to Egypt and I will be with you” and to Solomon he said “Ask whatever you want and I will give it to you” And he said to Joshua “Don’t be afraid” as he was going off to conquer another land.
God said “Let there be light” and there was light. One word from God can mean so much and change everything.
There are a lot of ways God speaks to us… he can speak to us in a dream, or a strong powerful feeling that comes over you and you know it is the voice of God… you can feel his word in your heart… in your mind… and in the core of your soul.
Have you ever had that feeling that you needed to call someone, to stop by and check up on someone… to pray for someone… that feeling that you hungered to go to church to find peace?
These are all ways God is speaking to us… but the most primary way God speaks to us is through the Bible. The scriptures and parables are all lessons for us to use in our life … we need to listen and learn from the word spoken. His word is his voice. His voice gives us guidance, his word gives us direction.
God speaks to us in those in-between times, when we don’t know what is happening, when we don’t know which way to turn. On Friday when Jesus died on the cross, the disciples thought it was over… they thought it was the end. On Saturday they didn’t know what to do… and then Sunday he is risen!
The hard time was that in-between time. Before this it was exciting for the disciples… they were filled with passion in Jesus’ ministry. They had experienced the miracles and teachings of Jesus and felt blessed to be a part. Then their dreams were crushed when Jesus was crucified … and just when they thought their lives were over he rose from the dead.
I’m sure all of you can think of a time when you thought your life and dreams were over, whether it be the loss of a job, or your marriage falling apart, or you are faced with cancer or a life altering illness or the loss of a parent, partner or child.
There is that in-between time when you just don’t know what is happening or that you don’t know if you can go on. It’s that time between the promise and the provision that is so difficult.
It’s those in-between moments when we wait for a promotion, wait for our dreams to be fulfilled, wait for our bodies to get stronger, wait for our children to outgrow the difficult phases, for a relationship to reconciled, for our finances to be secure… even waiting for this pandemic to be over! There are a lot of in-between moments in life.
What is God saying to us in those in-between moments? What messages are we supposed to hear? What lessons are we supposed to learn? What were the disciples supposed to be experiencing during the time Christ was crucified until he rose again 3 days later?
Matthew 28:20 says “And remember…I am with you always, until the end of age” The Lord says in Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”
That’s the voice of God, don’t give up, don’t quit. That’s the voice the disciples heard… keep the faith, believe in me, I will not leave your side
We not only need to hear the voice of God in the in-between times, we need to hear his voice in the midst of trouble, the midst of illness, the midst of loss and sorrow, the midst of loneliness and despair.
On this morning… so many years ago, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb in despair. If we read John’s account starting in John 20:1:
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” (Notice, she didn’t yet believe Jesus had risen from the dead. She thought His body had been taken. Then John and Peter ran to the tomb and looked inside. They were confused, as well.)
Then skip to the text at John 20:10:
“Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put Him.’
“At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was Jesus. ‘Woman,’ He said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’
Thinking He was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”
That’s love. Maybe Mary weighed 110 pounds. Let’s assume Jesus weighed 165, and John tells us that Nicodemus and Joseph had wrapped His body in 75 additional pounds of aloe and spices. So this little woman was going to lift this 250 pound corpse over her shoulder and carry it back inside the tomb. That’s love. Her hope was shattered, and her faith was absent, but the love was still there. Remember, among faith, hope and love, that the greatest of these is love.
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ ‘Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.”‘
At that point, Jesus couldn’t conceal Himself any longer. He simply spoke her name Rabboni, which is Hebrew for teacher, and she fell at His feet. She was looking for Jesus, and she had found Him.
“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ She told them He had said these things to her.”
The good news of Easter is that because Jesus came back from death, we also will live after death. Mary Magdalene was an eye witnesses of the resurrection. She was the last one at the cross and the first one at the tomb.
It was that in-between time that was so powerful and it is the root of the lesson. Had Jesus been killed and then came back to life immediately, it would have been a miracle, like walking on water or changing water into wine, etc. But it would not have the enormous impact that we learn from his crucifixion and resurrection.
We have all misplaced things… whether it be car keys, mail, a favorite sweater etc.
But have you ever lost something so precious to you and can’t find it where ever you look- whether it be a piece of jewelry, a cherished card or letter, a favorite momento… or something of great importance and value like a much needed document, an uncashed check, someone’s contact information…
You can’t focus on anything until you find that precious and needed item. You become anxious, unsettled…empty… incomplete.
That’s the in-between time from the Last Supper until the resurrection of Jesus.
All of us live with challenges, fears, anxiety, despair… the difference is that if you believe in God, if you have faith in our Lord, he will never leave your side. Jesus will give us peace in the midst of turmoil.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” Peace in your heart and in your soul.
The beauty of the resurrection is that you can come home. Jesus died for our sins that we may come home to be with him again, always. The resurrection means your sins are wiped away, God loves you and forgives whatever you have done.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness “
Matthew 26:28 “This is the blood of my covenant which is poured out for many the forgiveness of sins”.
The resurrection of Christ means Jesus died for your sins,
you are forgiven, your life has meaning and purpose.
God will be by your side to guide you and give you direction.
Listen to those in-between moments and hear the Lord. '
The voice of God is saying… You are loved, you are valued,
you are important and cherished.
I have a plan for you.
There is a purpose and a reason for you being here.
Expect to hear God’s voice, read the Bible and listen to his word.
Surround yourself with those who share the same values and faith.
Jesus is the resurrection and the light… believe in him and all things are possible.
Christ Our Lord Is Risen Today Indeed…. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen