Thursday, April 4, 2013

It Is Perplexing!

I like to start preparing for my Easter Sermons earlier than my other sermons.
Today is like the Super Bowl for preachers.
But it was hard this year.
It is hard to think about new life, about spring, about rebirth, while 14 inches of snow is falling.
I am sure this spring you all had a similar experience.
It is hard to imagine resurrection when death still hangs in the air.
So it is for the people who first experienced the resurrection.
In all of the Gospels the reaction to people hearing the news that Jesus has risen was not immediate joy.
They didn’t yell out, “He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”
People’s immediate reaction is confusion.
The women who first come to the tomb are perplexed.
That big heavy stone they put in front of the tomb was gone and so was the body.
This is not supposed to happen.
Big stones don’t disappear and dead people don’t come back to life.
It is all perplexing.

There is no wonder we still struggle with the resurrection.
This is not supposed to happen.
We all know that the only things certain in life are death and taxes.
I mean if we know one thing for absolute certain it is that everyone dies.
Scientific studies have proven it.
Let me suggest that it is ok to be perplexed by the resurrection.
There will be days and times when we doubt it, just like the disciples did when they were told by the women.

This is the way the resurrection is supposed to be.
It is suppose to surprise us.
It is suppose to be perplexing.
It is really unbelievable.

But then I think about all the ways our lives are dead.
All the ways we are stuck in winter and can’t get to spring.
The ways we are stuck in our old life and can’t get to the new.
All the ways we are shut in tombs with the stone still in front.
I think about the stone that keeps us in those tombs, or perhaps keeps others out.

Today I have given everyone a stone.
It is a reminder of all the things in our life that keep us from new life.
All the things that block our path.
All the obstacles that seem really hard to get over.
All of the sin that blocks our way from a truly rich and meaningful life.
And then remember that God has the unbelievable, remarkable power to remove that stone from your life.
God has the power to let light shine in, and to usher in spring and new life.

I have good friend who has had her world shattered this last year.
Her husband cheated on her, he stole all her money, she lost her job, her son got married and her new daughter in law doesn’t get along with her.
So she feels alone, and lost.
It really has been a horrible year.
My heart breaks for her, because someone who was once vibrant full life is no just defeated.
She of course is not the only one there are lots of us who are living in this way.
Lots of us hoping for a turnaround
Lots of us living in that tomb hoping that the stone will be rolled away.

This is why we need the resurrection.
This is why we need to have faith in unbelievable things that don’t make sense.
This is why we need to believe that huge stones can be rolled away.
We need to believe that God has the power to roll our stones away.
Open up the dark and dingy tomb and let the sunshine in.
We need a new day with new vision.
We need miracles to happen this Easter day.

The resurrection assures us that those miracles are possible.
This morning Ryan is being baptized and that is a miracle.
A miracle that another child of God has bee drowned in the waters and brought to new life.
In our baptism we are killed and brought to new life.
That new life is a life with Christ.
Baptism is what reminds us constantly of the Easter faith we have.
That we proclaim that out of nothing, out of tomb God brings life.
And it is a promise that last us from the time we are a baby until the day when we leave this world to go to live with God.

Lots of times people ask me how people receive faith, and how they maintain it.
The answer is I don’t know.
It is always perplexing to me.
Having faith in God’s ability to bring life from death is really beyond belief.
But I know plenty of people who have it.
I have seen how it makes a huge difference in their lives.
I have seen how it helps them to roll away stones that would want to keep them locked in their tombs.
I have seen how faith can be a great force in our lives.

This week I was reading a website that had people write in grace stories about the ways that God’s grace had changed their lives.
For example there was a woman named Sara Haggerty who wrote about how grace totally changed her marriage.
She used to pray that God would change her husband and make him the man she wanted.
But one day God put a different prayer in her heart.
She prayed to be able to see her husband through God’s eyes.
Her perception of their marriage, herself, her husband, and God changed.
This is what Sara ends her story with.
“My early-marriage prayers for change in him were not entirely unfounded, just skewed.
Jesus’ grace washed over me and finally gave hunger to remove the log and to finally see clearly.
This man, as God has made him, but ultimately God, as He really is.
A promise-keeper. Not only washing over sin, but promising redemption of every fallen place.
And I live healing.
And breathe believing for every single one of my broken places.”
God through his grace had rolled away the stone that kept Sara in her tomb.
God let the light shine into her life.
The resurrection opens us up to new understanding about ourselves and others.

It makes us new and let’s in the light.
I loved Sara’s story because it was about her everyday life, and how her sin got in her way.

What will be the ways that God’s grace will help you to roll away your stones?
What will be the ways that God empty the tombs so we might live again?
We live in the tomb because we are in the way.
We won’t let God in, and so most of what we have to do is get out of the way and let God have control.
That is a resurrection faith that trusts in God’s amazing grace to bring life from death, and bring new life to us, to make a way out of no way.

This Easter faith is perplexing, but I hope that God rolls the stone away from your tombs so that you might experience new life.
I hope that your tomb is open to let the sunshine in.
I hope that we all get to experience a wonderful spring.
And that even through the confusion, doubt, and perplexing we can say Christ has risen indeed. Alleluia!

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