The morning sunlight contributed to the effervescence that spilled through the sanctuary this raising the pre-service decibel level about ten points as people greeted one another and awaited the start of worship. Brad opened by reminding us that this was the holiest of holy days in the Christian calendar, for "He is alive!"
After the Easter Greeting we jumped straight into "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today."
There was quite a bit of music today as we sang a medley of hymns and were treated to special music by Chuck and Darlene, and a little later by Gwen who sang "He's Alive!"
Brad had brought a video to share with us about Tagboard Testimonies where people share briefly what God has done and where they've been. He then had three young men from the Teen Challenge who were worshiping with us share how God had touched their lives. The video then went into greater depth with one of these men's stories.
Today's Scripture reading was from Luke's account of that first Easter morning, Luke 24:1-12. The sermon followed.
Brad began by telling about a close friend who invested in the stock market. On one occasion he'd found a hot stock that was guaranteed to go up. He claimed to have done his research and it was a guaranteed red hot investment, a sure thing. And Brad climbed aboard to profit from this find. It bellied up and went to worthless. "The only thing that makes me feel better is knowing that he lost more than I did in that deal."
Maybe you've lost money in investments or in other things you invested in based on assumptions you made in advance. Perhaps it was a relationship you invested in. You assumed one thing about the future but something different happened.
Our assumptions are often flawed. Sometimes in the moral realm, or assumptions about vocation, and we can even have flawed assumptions about God.
Peter, the day after he saw Jesus crucified, must have wondered if he had just wasted the last three years of his life. Jesus looked and acted and spoke like the Messiah of Israel. Here is was, nailed to a cross.
Yet, we see from I Peter 1:3 that whatever pain he went through during that dark time, in the end he'd not hoped is vain. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Wonderful words.... Hope. Resurrection.
A lot of things in this life are over-rated, Brad noted. Hope is not over-rated. We all need hope. New Testament writers use the word "hope" 71 times.
Hope is not mere optimism. Nor should it be confused with "the power of positive thinking." God's kind of hope sustains. God's hope heals. When breathed into empty shells it gives us life.
The cross was an instrument of death. Yet God transformed death into resurrection. The Bible calls it a "new birth into a living hope." Do I believe that Jesus has life changing power? I do because God showed up in my life.
When Jesus taught, He often referred to a thing called "child-like faith." He said we were to be like children, and here are four attributes of that.
1. Kids are energetic.
2. Kids are endlessly inquisitive.
3. Kids have a capacity to give and receive love.
4. Kids trust.
Brad closed with an appeal that we take on those childlike qualities of being inquisitive, energetic, active, trust-filled, and loving.
We closed the service with another great hymn, "Thine Is The Glory."