One Sunday morning, at a small evangelical church, the pastor called on the newly appointed deacon to lead the opening prayer. The deacon stood up, bowed his head, and said. “Lord, I hate buttermilk.” The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going. The deacon continued. “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the pastor was totally perplexed. The deacon continued, “Lord, I ain’t too crazy about plain flour either. But after you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits.” Then he prayed, “Lord, help us to realize when life gets hard when things don’t go as we expect when we don’t understand what you’re doing and why that we need to wait and see what you’re making. After you get through all the mixing and all the baking, it’ll probably be something even better than biscuits. Amen.”
Yes, Jesus’ resurrection is something way better than biscuits! It’s the Lord’s way of demonstrating to us that all of the sin, abandonment, judgment, and evil that he had to endure during his lifetime on earth could never derail the plan God had for us and for the salvation God wanted each one of us to embrace. Even though we may hate what Jesus had to do to get us there, we know that it was necessary for our Messiah to confront sin head-on and to show us how, we too, are capable of overcoming the evils and sins that we encounter in our world, armed with nothing but the love of God in our hearts and a trust in God’s infinite mercy. For from the moment of Christ’s resurrection, NOTHING and NO ONE would ever have the final say over the power of God’s love in the world any longer! And for believers, NOTHING and NO ONE would leave us feeling totally abandoned, alone, afraid and without hope, ever again!
Indeed, because of Christ’s resurrection, we have a great proclamation to share with all the world! And that proclamation is that the darkness of sin in our world has not overcome the light! And for that we say, Alleluia! (repeat) The despair and isolation of this pandemic has not overcome the salvation that Jesus won for us by his death on the cross and his rising from the dead! And for that we say, Alleluia! (repeat) What’s more, our Risen Lord loves us so much that he would never let sin and death destroy our covenants nor the hope in new life, new hope, unending joy and faith-filled happiness, that God promised! And for that we say, Alleluia! (repeat)
Yes, our Covenant with God has led us through our Lenten journey this year, to understand more fully, just how much God is willing to do, to demonstrate his love and care for us sinners, and just how much grace, God wants to lavish upon us to overcome our sinfulness and to live a life of grace and faith.
At the beginning of Lent, we encountered our Covenant God, leading us to a greater respect for and care for all creation. In our second week of Lent, our Covenant God demonstrated that we couldn’t get out of sin on our own, but needed a Savior, to act as our substitute and to take on human sinfulness. In our third week of Lent, this same Covenant God gave us the law and showed us how to transcend it, in order to live more fully by its spirit, and not under compulsion. In the fourth week of Lent, our Covenant God invited us to gaze inward, to make our prayer heartful and honest, and to allow the Holy Spirit to inspire us to action on behalf of the Kingdom. In our fifth week of Lent, our Covenant God challenged us to extend our gaze beyond the walls of this church to consider the poorest of the poor who are struggling through this pandemic, and to enter into a cultural covenant with them, so that we might truly see ourselves as brothers and sisters beyond national or ethnic boundaries.
Our Lenten journey climaxed on Palm Sunday, when our Covenant God demonstrated his infinite love for sinful humanity by suffering and dying on the Cross and demonstrating the value of his Precious Blood in redeeming all the world. In these and many other ways, our Covenant God has blessed our Lenten journey and has prepared us to see the Risen Lord more fully in our midst! For this great grace we say, Thank you Jesus! (repeat) Amen! (repeat) Alleluia! (repeat)
Indeed, the Easter Season is all about being able to see the Risen Lord, living and active among us and in our church! It’s all about proclaiming to all the world what we have seen and heard about Jesus and more importantly, how we’ve experienced the Risen Lord first-hand and how he’s gifted us by his grace! Seeing is indeed believing! And so, for the Easter Season, we will explore the many ways we see the Lord among us, and in us, and in our church.
One of the greatest ways in which we see the Lord every week is in the Mass, when the body and blood of Christ are made really present to us in the form of bread and wine. When we come together to celebrate the mass and partake of Jesus’ body and blood, we have the awesome experience of feeling the Lord’s presence coursing through our veins, of it being absorbed into every cell of our bodies, and of making us, more and more, into his image and likeness.
I ask you…..What evil could possibly defeat a person who has the very body and blood of Jesus made present within them? What evil could possibly overcome a person who is in communion with our Almighty God and Savior of the world? What evil could ever convince us that God doesn’t care about human beings, when we have the life, death and resurrection of Jesus defiantly proclaiming to the contrary?
The defeat of sin and death is why Easter is so sacred a day to all Christians and so needed in our world today! With all the death and doom that this viral pandemic has brought about in our world, with all the violence and innocent blood shed by terrorists worldwide, with all the starvation and sickness brought on by unjust economic systems, with all the lies told by political leaders to satisfy their own selfish agendas, the resurrection of Jesus Christ invites us all to embrace a vision of a better world, with God’s eyes! The resurrection of Christ challenges us to see the world with God’s loving heart! The resurrection of Christ asks us to demonstrate our hope for a better world by applying Christian values and principles to solving the world’s many problems! The resurrection of Christ helps us to see that, with God’s almighty power, no power of evil will ever be strong enough or last long enough to defeat the power of the Risen Lord, who comes in majesty to bring about God’s kingdom in all its glory, justice, love and peace!
Yes, Easter invites us to witness to a great ‘Alleluia’ in our world, an ‘alleluia’ that cannot be silenced or drowned out. It’s an ‘alleluia’ that reminds everyone, everywhere, that our God is with us, —that with Jesus, there is fullness of redemption, —that no matter what sin we may think is too big, and no matter what problem we may think is too hard to solve, that God is bigger than it and has the power to transform it! The Christian vision for the world is an ‘alleluia’ that rings out with the choir of angels and saints in heaven, and all people of God on earth, that love is more powerful than anything sinful humanity can hurl our way!
So let us rejoice and be glad that the early disciples and Mary Magdalene saw the Risen Lord! And for our part, let us look for the Lord in everyone and in everything in our world today! And let’s never hesitate, in whatever circumstance with which we may be faced, to proclaim God’s immense love for each and every person, this day, and always!
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