Skip to main content

What Can We Count On?

This is the sermon I preached on Easter Sunday, March 27 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church and St. Mark Lutheran Church. The gospel text is Luke 24:1-12. 

I read recently that a seminary professor wrote, “If it's not hard to believe, you're probably not paying attention!” (David Lose). He was talking about the resurrection.

Does that shock us? After all, let’s think about this. For someone to rise from the dead is not an everyday occurrence. We’re not talking about having a near death experience. Nor are we talking about a mere resuscitation of Jesus’ body.

The account of Jesus’ crucifixion makes it clear that those wanting the crucifixion made sure Jesus was good and dead. Jesus was so dead that no one really believed that he would rise--in spite of the numerous times Jesus told this to his followers.

How did the women who were the first to go the empty tomb respond? Did you hear them say, “Praise God! He is risen! I knew this would happen just the way he told us!” When they saw the empty tomb, they were concerned that someone had stolen Jesus' body. The women expected to find a dead body, not an empty tomb. 

Why did the women go to the tomb in the first place? They weren’t waiting for Jesus to come out of the tomb. They went to anoint Jesus’ dead body. This is what friends and family members did for their loved ones who had died.

It wasn’t until they saw the angels that they even remembered that Jesus had talked about his resurrection. Can’t you hear a collective, “Oh...that’s what Jesus was talking about. Now I get it.” The women were psyched. They could not wait to tell the disciples what had happened. The women could barely contain themselves.

So how did these great men of faith respond??? The disciples thought the women were crazy. According to the Greek, they believed the women to be delirious!  So much for our great men of faith! But can you really blame them? There was no precedent for this experience. After all, if the dead don’t stay dead, what can we count on? Isn’t death one of the two great certainties of life?

Resurrection breaks all the rules. The old rules may not have been perfect--but we could count on them. They were predictable. We knew what to expect and what was expected of us. The dead stay dead. But now we have a new paradigm, someone who was dead rising to life? It is certainly unexpected. And doesn’t that makes us uncomfortable?

In typical fashion, Jesus totally upsets the apple cart and our neatly organized lives will never be the same. I say “Thank God.” I need a God that can’t be kept in a box or a tomb. And don’t we all need a God who is too big and unruly to stay put where He’s expected to be?

Because Jesus conquered death in his resurrection death does not have the last word!

This is such a familiar story for most of us that it’s hard to grasp just how shocking this is. If we find it a little hard to believe, that’s ok because we’re in good company. The thought of someone rising from the dead has bothered the most intelligent people in the world for the last 2000 years.

Now that the rules have been broken and our expectations shattered, what do we do? This God who cannot be tamed wants us to do more than just sit back on Easter Sunday and say, “What a nice story. Isn’t that reassuring? This is why I come to church every Easter.”

Surprise--this is NOT why we come to church on Easter. God expects us to tell others and not keep it to ourselves. Do we bemoan the smallness of our congregation and the age of many members? If we are, then let’s do something about it—let’s share the good news.

If we are here just because that’s what we do on Easter or if we think it will give us some heavenly brownie points—then we are missing the whole message of Easter! There is comfort and hope because Jesus conquered death. This life here is not the end of the story. The God who loves us best wants a dynamic, earth shattering relationship with us.

After all, the Christian life is all about relationships--relationship with God, relationship with each other and relationship with our community.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what you believe or if you believe. Resurrection faith came slowly for the disciples but when it came it changed everything. God has a future in store for each and every one of us. All things are possible for our God who conquered death.

Google Images


Popular posts from this blog

If and If and If

This is the sermon I preached on Sunday, 10/1/17 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church and St. Mark Lutheran Church. The scripture text is Philippians 2:1-13

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one of my favorites. It is full of positive, uplifting theology, like “RejoiceintheLordalways; again I will say, Rejoice (Phil. 4:4 ). It’s a feel-good kind of letter. Today’s passage from Philippians is chock full of great stuff and I could get at least 10 sermons out of

Flying Rebukes

This is the sermon I preached on Sunday, 2/25/18 at St. Timothy. Lutheran Church. The text was Mark 8:31-38. 

Immediately before today’s gospel reading, Jesus had asked his disciples who people say that he is. This is where the light went on for Peter and he made the confession, “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29). Peter certainly gave the right answer and was likely thinking of the attributes given to whoever would be the Messiah. The Messiah, people thought, would deliver them from the crushing rule of the Romans. The Messiah would fight their enemies. Basically, the Messiah was a strong king-like figure.
But, now Jesus fleshes out for Peter and others what that is going to look like. They were completely unprepared for the reality.
“Jesus began to teach them” (v. 31). Hadn’t he been teaching the disciples all along? Maybe, but this was different. This wasn’t teaching about miracles and healing. This is the turning point in Mark’s gospel, marking a new beginning.
“Jesus began to teach the…

God Uses the Ordinary to Reveal the Extraordinary

This is the sermon I preached on Christmas Eve at St.Timothy Lutheran Church and at the combined worship service of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and St. Mark Lutheran Church. The text was Luke 2:1-14. During Advent and Christmas, we are presented with the idea that Christmas is a magical time and anything is possible because after all, it is Christmas. We see this in television shows and the movies, especially the schmaltzy Hallmark movies that many of us love. But our personal reality is often quite different. This is a time when people suffer from depression, from their first Christmas without a loved one, from illness, you name it. For many, it isn’t all magic and happiness.
After all the shopping, cleaning, cooking and preparing and after trying to make ends meet; keeping a distraught family together, struggling to get a job and worrying about a loved one serving overseas—after all the stuff that makes our lives crazy—the short, simple, peaceful word that we are of infinite value…