Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Great News of the Resurrection

Easter Sunday March 31
The landscape is still a blanket of snow so that the children’s Easter Egg Hunt before the service took place in the sanctuary. Energy was abundant as we gathered on this special morning to celebrate the true birth of the church, the Resurrection of our Savior, the day that everything in history changed.

Darlene and Drake began the service with a song of the Lord’s life, death and promise of His return as a lead-in to the singing of several hymns that have become classic for this season.

A number of new members were received into our church family this morning: the Stockes, Curt and Melissa Fernandez, Dewey Johnson , and Jeff Larsen

The Trio beautifully sang “I’ll Rise Again” as the offering was taken, a wonderful song and especially suited for this morning’s service of celebration.

Duayne read this morning’s Scripture from John 20:1-18 and then Ed Newman sang the familiar classic The Holy City. After a time of prayer, Drake and Megan performed a heartfelt, beautiful song of the power of the cross, and of Christ who became sin for us, paving a way for us to enter God’s family through His shed blood. Death is crushed through death… and life is ours to live. Amazing story, amazing love.

The event that happened on this day is the pivotal point of all history. But the story as related in the Gospel of Mark has an unusual conclusion Brad read for us Mark 16:1-8 which ends with the women fleeing in silence fearing to say a word to anyone. Some people don’t like this ending and have added what seems a better ending…

Christianity traces its history to a moment in time, to a single day. The four biographies of the life of Jesus and most of the events recorded about His life occurred during the last week of his life. When the resurrection took place the women who discovered that He was was not there knew it was true, but weren’t sure that it was good news.

There was a backstory to the resurrection story that is critical to understanding this event. Many people in those days had different conceptions about death including belief in an underworld. Most peoples believed life was an endless cycle.

Jewish people, on the other hand, believed that there was a great God who created all things and that one day this good God would step in and right all wrongs, heal creation and resurrect His people to enjoy the new creation. Where they got it wrong was that they believed it would all happen at the end of history, ushering us into the age to come. And it would be a group deal…. all would experience it together.

Jesus broke the rules. There was a different outcome than expected.

When Jesus said that He was going to die, the disciples were disheartened, even abandoned Him. But suddenly they changed, evidence that something spectacular must have happened. People in ancient times were not ignorant. They believed dead things stayed dead.

N.T.Wright notes that there were many messianic movements in those days. In every case the Roman authorities crucified these would-be messiahs. In only one instance did a Messiah rise from the dead…

The tomb was empty and afterward Jesus appeared to His followers. Both events were necessary. Jesus not only appeared to his disciples but to hundreds of others. If the tomb had been empty and no one saw Him after, the tomb could have been robbed. If the Romans could have produced a body, they would have.

The empty tomb was first witnessed by women. It's interesting that in those days, during court proceedings the testimony of women had no value. But the age to come had been inaugurated and its first witnesses were women.

The new life and the people of God are a resurrection community… It was not the end of the world, but the beginning of something more significant. Furthermore, Christ’s followers understood that it wasn’t just Jesus’ death. It was their death, too. He took the nails we deserved.

Brad concluded with a story about a man who'd spent much of his life living far from God. Over time he came to realize the limits of his own self-sufficiency and pride. He'd been to Bible camp, had spent years telling himself he needed more information before he could follow God, but eventually he became aware that it was a commitment issue. He'd never really surrendered his life to God.

The resurrection story is not just a moment in history. It involves us, and it's a step we need to take...  Have you taken that step?

Resurrection is not Good News only, it is True News. Guilt cannot separate you from God. You do not have to live in fear… You have a resurrection coming… Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you have taken a new step of faith, you have a resurrection coming…

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