Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Good News!!

I always start  preparing my Easter Sermon months in advance.
I start thinking about the theme of the sermon and what I want to say to all of you.
This year was no different.
But then we found ourselves in a pandemic.
And I will be honest I totally forgot all the things I was going to say.
And this sermon is very different from the one I was going to give.
The story of course is the same.
The women show up at the tomb that day expecting death, and they find life.
They are told not to be afraid.
They are told to go and tell others what is happening.
Jesus meets them on the road.
Jesus is alive.
The meaning of this story is deep and rich.
And since the first Easter we have been figuring out what it means for us and our lives.
This is the story that we turn to when life is hard or tragic.
But I would offer this morning that the meaning changes for us depending on where we find ourselves.
The sermon I was going to give was great for the time before the pandemic.
But I believe the reason I forgot it was because it wasn't good for where we are now.
And where we are now is in the middle of this thing.
And the best case scenario is that we will still be in this spot for a least another three weeks.
And every week seems to take a long time in this new place.
So we have to ask ourselves how does this story of resurrection talk to us now?
Here in the place we find ourselves this morning.

Let me suggest this morning that this story is more important to us this morning.
We need this story really bad today.
(Well…I can't speak for you, but I need it today.)
I need Jesus to tell me, "Don't be afraid"
I need an angel to show up and tell me that Jesus is not in the tomb!
I need that feeling of joy that the women experience when they are told that Jesus is not in the tomb.

Recently, John Krasinski the actor, who played Jim on the television show "The office", started a youtube show called "Some Good News".
In the show John shows clips of good things that are happening in this pandemic.
Everything from fathers making crazy golf shots, to people cheering on medical personal as they return from their shifts.
It is really a wonderful thing.
I encourage you to check it out on youtube.
It will lift your spirits.
It will show you that there is so much good in the world.
When I watch this I cry.
I am moved because I need this good news so badly.
And that is what we receive this morning.
We are not just receiving some good news, but THE GOOD NEWS!
The best news that we could get.
Jesus lives and so do we!
Even among death and sin Jesus lives!
He is not in the tomb.
Go with Joy and tell this to everyone.

I am wondering if you ever had that feeling.
The one where you get some good news and you can't wait to tell others, and at the same time you are a little nervous to tell others.
In my first years or so of High school I didn't do so well.
There were lots of reasons for this, but I wasn't a good student.
I remember the first time I made the honor roll.
I couldn't wait to tell my parents.
But I was also a little afraid.
Afraid because now it meant I was really capable of doing the work.
Afraid because what I had believed about myself wasn't true.
I was capable, I was smart, I was good enough.
Before this I had given up.
I imagine that is what it was like on that first Easter.
Jesus' followers had given up.
They believed that the bad things of the world had won.
They believed that all the things Jesus had said and done were not true.
That they should be afraid, because the Romans and religious leaders were too powerful.
That love wasn't enough.
And the good news that the women hear changes all of that.
Everything that Jesus said is true!
Good news does win!
Jesus is not in the tomb!

In our congregation we have seen lots of this.
I am amazed at the ways we are staying connected even though we are not meeting in person.
One of those ways was through this project that we done by one of our members Andi Kelleher.
She asked the congregation to all send in a cut-out or picture of their hand with their name on it and one word reflecting something they are doing while in this distancing time.
Then she made it into this wonderful collage of our hands.
I want to share what Andi wrote about this project.
"We are together, united in Christ.
God with us!
We are parents and children, family and friends.
We work, we play, we serve, we pray.
We were given life, breath, mind, spirit.
And as Jesus teaches us, we use it all for God's purpose.
We use our hands to boost each other.
And we lift our hands to God in praise
Who made us all-united-in God's love.
So though we are part- the spirit is here--
Connecting us -
To each other and to so many more
And to God, our wondrous Lord."
That is what it is to believe in this story, this miraculous wondrous story.
It is to believe that even when death is around us Jesus is alive in us.
Even when we are not physically together we are connected to each other through the Holy Spirit!
Even though the world is out of control, and we are not sure what it all means, we trust God will use our hands to boost each other up.

You see this Easter the meaning is even more clear.
That not even a pandemic can stop God from working.
A pandemic cannot stop our faith.
It cannot stop of our love for each other.
It cannot crush our spirit.
It cannot stop us from being connected to each other.
It cannot stop us from having joy and awe!

That is what we celebrate this Easter!
That is what we remember this Easter!
That the tomb that was sealed and guarded cannot contain God!
And because of that we are not afraid.
Jesus is alive and so are we!
Because Jesus is alive we have hope, faith, and love!
And that is the good news that we cling to now and always.

He Is Risen!!
He Is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!!

Saturday, April 11, 2020


That is what you are alone.
The adoring crowds shouting your name have left.
Your friend betrayed you.
Your closest disciple denied you.
The rest fled from you.
They ran from this sight.
Maybe they couldn't stand to watch.
Maybe they were afraid that they would be arrested next.
Maybe they just didn't understand what you were going through.
But there you are alone.
There are people watching, but they are deriding you.
They are mocking you.
"I thought you were king of the Jews"
"Save yourself"
No one believes in you anymore.
All of the teaching you did.
All of the healing.
All of the miracles.
It all seems such a waste.
It ends here on the cross with you alone.
You don't even know that God is with you.
"My God my God why did you abandoned me."
We feel this way too.
We feel alone.
We feel that people betray our trust.
That people deny our existence.
That people Leave us.
We feel that God is not present when we suffer.
We feel alone right now.
We feel the pain of not being together, of having to isolate ourselves.
We wonder why would God allow this.
Why would God allows any of it.
You are the Son of God and even you feel it.
Even you know what it is to be alone.
Is that the point?
If God can know our pain then we are never alone in it.
We are not alone.
Here in our pain
In our loss
In our hurt that is where God is.
God is not going to magically make it all go away.
This is what it is to be human.
To be divine is to be human, and to be human is to be divine.
To sit here alone is the point.
Because this is where God is.
This is where our savior is.
This is where God finds us.
And we learn a truth revealed to us by Jesus on the cross…
We are not alone.
Even when we feel that way.
Even when things are at their worst God is there.
God is in that moment of our betrayal.
God is in the moment of our denial.
God is in the moment of abandonment.
God is on the cross.
Because of this night we can know that God is with us in all things.
We can know that we are never alone.