IT’s ABOUT TOMORROW
ACTS 10: 34-43
JOHN 20: 1-18

My Friends … My Church … HE IS RISEN!!! <<He is Risen Indeed>>

If you are here on Easter Sunday because you are a person of faith … if you are here on Easter Sunday because you have come to understand that beyond the powers of this world there is a greater power … if you are here today as a child of God who in your acceptance of your weakness have turned to the Higher Power whom we refer to as God and in your personal truth moments you know you need a Savior to lift you out of the muck life has created for you … then indeed today, tomorrow, and the next day we need to remember HE IS RISEN INDEED and that Easter is not about a calendar date that we 21st Century people full of wisdom have concocted into a time for trips out of town, dentist rewarding treat indulgences, and myth perpetration for the young … this day is a joyous day because we have travelled through Holy Week … we have glimpsed at the cross not as a clean creation of someone skilled enough to seamlessly place wood together or metal together or stained glass together to form what non-believers might see as the letter T … no friends, we have seen the cross this week for all that it was meant to be … we have heard the anguished cries of the seven words from the cross … and here on Easter morning 2018 we are ready to declare again that the STONE has been rolled back …

HE IS RISEN CHURCH!!!! <<He is Risen Indeed!>>

Some of you in this gathering joined me on Friday to be blessed by the powerful preaching of six other pastors whom I joined with … I was so blessed to be there with my brothers and sisters of faith … but that was yesterday.  If you chose to be shopping, sleeping or Netflix binging … you can’t bring back the opportunity to have worshiped on Friday afternoon.  If life has kept you from opening up God’s Holy Word with an energy usually devoted to your Facebook viewing, your novel reading or your People magazine glimpsing … you can’t go back and change that.  I am here today to argue before you … to plead with you … to encourage you to consider that Easter is about tomorrow.

The tomb of Jesus Christ … do you realize that it is not just the narratives of the Christian faith that tell what happened in Holy Week to this Jesus.  He was arrested, he was convicted by a chanting hating crowd even though He was innocent and He was hung in a vicious manner until He died.  But, did you hear what Peter said in our reading from Luke’s history book that we call ACTS?

“We were witnesses to everything He did … but GOD raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the One whom God appointed … All the prophets testify about Him” …

EVERYONE. … FRIENDS … just like God created EVERYONE in GOD’s HOLY image not just those of us dressed in Easter finery … ALL PEOPLE …. JESUS TEACHES US TO LOVE GOD and to LOVE ALL PEOPLE …. ALL …. Not just those who post the memes on social media we agree with … not just those who conveniently look and sound like us … we are talking all … we are talking SALVATION!

Peter spoke and Luke wrote it down …

EVERYONE who believes in HIM receives the forgiveness of sins.”

But the key part of this message … you see friends, we aren’t living in the before EASTER DAYS … we are living in the days after the real Easter has come and gone … Jesus was born 2000 plus years ago … Jesus died on the cross 2000 plus years ago … Jesus rose from that tomb …

Oh my friends on that Easter morn … I so love this truth … as the father of girls who are now women … as someone in this 21st century who continues to witness how women are demeaned and given less than men … on that Easter morning as the men hid and denied it was the women … the women of faith who bravely went to face what they thought would be the soldiers guarding the tomb …. It was the women who expected to have to get into the hate-filled eyes to see their rabbi, their Lord, their Master …

Friends, this morning can you say that Jesus is your rabbi or teacher of life, your Lord … your Master …

The women came to the tomb and it was empty … WHY?  BECAUSE

On this Easter morning … today as we gather in this small little church in West Deptford New Jersey and for those of you viewing on FACEBOOK … Can you answer the question, Jesus Christ the Son of God is what church?  HE IS RISEN!!! <<He is Risen Indeed>>

And, that reality is something that we each need to sink it.  You see the truth of the day; the fact that matters most … God’s love verified through the events of Holy Week … the Meal to remember Him by … the Cross where He died for our sins … the empty tomb … the reality to consider in your hearts … Mary Magdalene shouted it out …

I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!!!

So, this Easter … what is your tradition?  It is wrapped up in this morning’s service?  Does your exiting out of these doors bring the end to He is RISEN INDEED … last year this pastor rushed during my message to shout to the people on the streets of this community HE IS RISEN but today I challenge you as the church of Jesus Christ to be just as bold … to be just as brave … to be just as committed in your faith to SHOUT as you walk out the door into God’s Creation … will you?  Can you?  Are you prepared to declare with Mary?  Can you be the ones this year who upon exiting in your best and loudest voice shout HE IS RISEN and then can you carry the message into the world.

It really is about tomorrow friends.  Today’s worship time … family time … candy consuming time … will quickly fade away but if … and I have to say if … .but if you have taken this Holy Season to say God matters … Jesus matters then EASTER is truly about tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the day that you can wrap up someone in the love of Jesus Christ rather than condemn them for their political viewpoint.  Tomorrow is a day when you can follow the call of Jesus to care for someone who is poor … someone who is a stranger in the land … that is if you believe that Easter matters … that Jesus lives … that God loves.

It’s not a hard choice when we are inside a church … it’s an easy yes when you are surrounded by people who made an active decision to be at an Easter service but friends will you remember tomorrow?  Will you open up God’s Word tomorrow … will you have an conversation with God that is more than a quick bless this food oh dear God moment?

One of my family’s Easter traditions was my dad hid Easter baskets and gifts for us to find.  He did this every year including his last Easter which occurred only a few weeks before his death in 1991.  I think the lesson of finding Easter gifts was in part a reminder from my dad that when we discover something we can experience great joy rather than just accepting it without looking.  To me that is a good Easter lesson … it is a lesson for believers … its time to pick up our crosses … it’s time to live for Jesus … we don’t know how many tomorrow’s we each have … we may be meeting people tomorrow who need Jesus Christ and need our little lights to be shining the message of the Good News rather than reflecting the shadowy requirements of the world.

Church … JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN … <<He is Risen Indeed>> You and I are the witnesses … we are the ones who ventured into church today but I need you to consider your tomorrow and whether this is the day you boldly change for God … not for Pastor Dave … I am not going to ask you to raise your hand to verify that you are a believer who has changed but yes … I want to hear shouts of HE IS RISEN as this church is dismissed into the world … if all I hear is quiet I will be disappointed.  My voice is loud but the voices of many can change the world.

A tradition of my ministry comes on Easter morning … I think about the reality of that dirty hillside grave in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago … Pilate had posted his guards … he had put his seal on the rock … but the angels came, the soldiers fell, and Jesus the Christ the Messiah The Prince of Peace … his tomb was unsealed … Rabboni …. Our Savior lives … and I have each Easter Sunday provided a collection of little stones to symbolize the rock that was rolled … for each of you to take and serve as a reminder that Jesus is alive that no tomb could hold him.  So, today before you walk out the doors shouting HE IS RISEN … I want you to select a stone to place in your purse, keep in your pocket, on your dashboard, on your desk on your nightstand … wherever you need a reminder that YOUR SAVIOR LIVES and that each day you and I need to be doing something … anything … little things to change the world and to live as the revolutionary Resurrection people.

Many of us know the song from ANNIE …

“When I’m stuck in a day that’s gray and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin and say .. OH … THE SUN’LL COME OUT TOMORROW … tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll love ya tomorrow you’re always a day away.”

Truth is Jesus was in the beginning … Jesus came to live, teach, die for us … Jesus rose up on Easter morning and is with us tomorrow and then the next tomorrow .. the SON IS UP … Jesus Christ is RISEN … <<He is RISEN INDEED>>

Go into the world loving God, loving neighbor and then do it again tomorrow because you can’t change yesterday but tomorrow is yours to take on for God!

AMEN

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©2018 St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ