April 21, 2009

Looking Ahead to April 26, 2009 -- 3rd Sunday of Easter

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Life of the Early Church: Acts 3:12-19
  • Psalm 4 (VU p.727)
  • From the Gospel: John 20:1-18
The Hymns this week are:
  • #371 Open My Eyes, That I May See
  • In the Garden (insert)
  • #186 Now the Green Blade Rises
  • #624 Give to Us Laughter
The Sermon title is Resurrected, Not Resuscitated – Transformation, Not Life As Usual

Early Thoughts:What is our Easter hope? Is it a revitalization of what went before or something new? What do we want?

As we read the appearance stories in the gospels it is obvious that people seemed to have trouble recognizing the Risen Christ. In this passage from John Mary thinks he is the Gardener. In Luke's story of travelers on the road it is a simple stranger they meet. Only in the saying of a name or the breaking of the bread is Christ revealed. There has to have been something different.

It has been my experience that when we get too heavily involved in "what really happened" discussions around Easter we miss its meaning. Those discussions get bogged down in trying to prove the bodily resurrection and I have found that this focus leads to a vision of resurrection as resuscitating the dead body of Jesus of Nazareth. A holy defibrillator as it were.

But that isn't what Easter is. Easter is a moment of new life, of transformation, of God's YES causing the beginning of something new (this being the same God who speaks to us through the prophet Isaiah saying Behold, I am doing something new). And so being an Easter people means being people who remain open to real resurrection. It means being open to be transformed, to letting go of our need to maintain the familiar and the comfortable.

And of course that is harder. It is so much easier to simply hope for a return to what was before. IT would be nice to say that our hope is for a renewal of all that we find helpful and comfortable. Transformation and change is harder, scarier.

Nevertheless, that is what Easter invites into. So what transformations, what new life are we looking for right now? What does resurrection mean for our economy
(locally and globally)? What does it mean for our churches (as congregations and as denominations)? What deaths are out there paving the way for new life to happen? What do we need to let go of to embrace God's new thing?

WE are an Easter people. Our hope as an Easter people lies in the promise of resurrection. But that promise may take a form unrecognizable to us at first. May God help us to allow our eyes to be opened to see Easter.

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