Isaiah 25: 6-9
JOHN 20: 1-8

EASTER 2024 – March 3

I anxiously was focused on the eastern horizon this morning … just in case some of you don’t know, TODAY IS EASTER 2024!! And I once again wanted to see the sun cresting over the horizon indicating that a new day beyond the alarm clock’s beckon call had begun … because TODAY IS EASTER … and I know that we have scheduled this day as the day to remember and celebrate the most important SON … you know the Son of God, Jesus Christ … RISE … RESURRECTION… SON RISE the most important date in history if you are one who embraces and loves God in return for God’s love for humanity.

We are not alone because EASTER is being remembered today throughout the world amongst peoples of all races who speak more than 7000 different languages and live their unique lives from the north to the south to the east and to the west most of whom live quite different life styles from yours and mine but all of us are connected through God’s love … through Jesus Christ. Amazing inclusive love! And I celebrate with joy this day called Easter knowing that ALL of humanity is loved equally by the God of Creation who calls all of us home, wanting all of us to believe and to be faithful, who does not and never has restricted who can worship Jesus Christ as a believer! The one and only God loving the rainbow collection of humanity that God created in God’s own Holy image!


Together, we can easily discover God’s directives in the Gospels of Jesus Christ teaching us to demonstrate our love for God through our lives, words, and actions while also showing love for all those members of humanity, our neighbors in the world, whom God loves individually as much as God loves each of us!

It is Easter … I am so filled with joy and thanksgiving! We know that the tomb could not hold Him … that death was not His … the women woke up that morning, they experienced the Light of Christ, and became the first humans to share the Good News of Easter … Friends, Jesus Christ HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>

When we choose to worship God … when we wake up acknowledging that God is God … when we realize that God is offering us a daily opportunity to restore our souls besides the still waters, we become better people in the here and now. When we believe that God sent Jesus not as a Christmas ornament nor as an appetizer before the bunny’s baskets of chocolate are unveiled but Jesus as our Savior … as our rescuer … as our teacher … as our Lord … as the Son of God it is then … that together … we can help make the world a better place. WE pray that God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven, and it is in living as Christ teaches that we can have an impact on that reality.

Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS church Let EVERY SINGLE LIVING and BREATHING THING on earth PRAISE THE LORD!!! It’s Scriptural! God’s expectation! Jesus Christ, HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>

Oh, the joy I have of being together with all of you to worship God … to express our praise and joy in God’s loving gift in Jesus Christ. It was such a beautiful moment of worship and faith to join together this morning for a sunrise service with other people of faith along the banks of the Delaware River… I wish more of you could have been with us. I am sure that the worshipful connection from Good Friday’s morning service with clergy and members from nine different churches has continued to bless those of you who made the time in your schedules to worship God and Christ on Good Friday morning and then the powerful worship moments here in this sanctuary on Friday evening as one by one the candles went out. I am so thankful for each person who participated in those services because my heart was blessed … there is something life changing when we allow God to be God … when we treat Jesus as our Savior and teacher for our life journey and when we decide that being in worship matters in our lives.

Waking up this morning to God’s reality with my personal capability to breathe in and breathe out that has more meaning to me this morning than on previous Easters gave my faith an energy boost. I woke up knowing that God’s love extends to each and every nook and cranny in the world. God’s church … God’s family is a global church … blessing my friends in New Zealand, in Japan, in Uganda, in the Ukraine and Russia, in Israel, in Gaza and Palestine, in Germany, in Canada, and across this nation with the exact same Easter rescue that you and I get. We need to remember friends, that God has not designated one nation or one leader as God’s choice and Easter is God’s call to all of us and to all of the world to live as God expects us to! A global celebration of love!

God’s people woke up to God’s loving presence everywhere in the world from the island Republic of Kiribati, once upon a time called the Christmas Island, where we have determined each new day officially begins and where they celebrated Easter in their churches hours ago to each person of faith across the globe … together we wake up knowing the truth of God’s story … more people are in church today than in any other day of the year so it is so important for each of us to show the joy we have in knowing how God has rescued us through Jesus Christ. No matter who we are, today we have a personal choice whether or not to live focused on God … to lift our voices praising God … and on celebrating the RESURRECTED ONE through our lives. And my friend Sohail, a fellow pastor, in Pakistan instructed me online yesterday to, “SHARE THE JOYS of our RESURRECTED SAVIOR!!” with all of you because he is celebrating our savior today. So REJOICE friends … REJOICE in the Lord and take Jesus on as yours again!

And, here I stand to declare again and again with joy in my heart … JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>

We again heard the prophet’s declaration and call to every person of faith. Are you bold enough … brave enough … confident enough to begin every day in your life … waking up with God and shouting or posting or doing whatever it takes to let your community of friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers know that you do not belong to the world but that you DO belong to Jesus Christ? Is this the day and then tomorrow and then the next day when you will say, “LOOK … this is our God for whom I have waited … and God has saved me!! This is the Lord Jesus Christ for whom I have waited; let’s be glad and rejoice in His salvation!!”

Church, Jesus Christ HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> Does that not feel good to shout out loud? The truth of God … the Good News of Jesus beating back the cross … pushing the tomb of death aside Jesus alive and well and with God and loving each of us … you and me but also every single neighbor with total, awesome, forgiving, and everlasting love … Don’t you want to get up and dance and shout and be glad and rejoice and sing praises if you are Bela or shout praises if you are me? YOUR FAITH … THIS EASTER … today most definitely I hope has been a day when you WOKE UP TO GOD with a huge smile of thanks on your face. Did you see the sun rise? Sense Jesus?

But … what if you don’t feel Easter right now? What if you just go through the motions but have not been transformed. Faith does take change friends … God calls us to worship God … to wake up with God … as St. Patrick said, “Jesus before me, Jesus behind me, and Jesus at my sides.” Today can be transformative … today can be your day of change … God never gives up but all too often we give up or we misalign with the world. Through faith we receive a special peace in this life … salvation in our forevers!

At Friday’s morning service we heard the call of our God asking, “[1]O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you? Answer me. I planted you as my fairest vineyard. I made you branches of the vine and never left your side. I opened the waters to lead you to the promised land, I lifted you up to the heights, I came to you in the least of your brothers and sisters, but I was hungry, and you gave me no food … I was thirsty and you gave me no drink … I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me, AND YOU HAVE PREPARED A CROSS for your Savior.”

Church did you wake up to God today or are you busy pushing God aside. Are you focused on the world? Are you cheering for a songwriter who feels it is proper for his song to be added into God’s Holy Word so he can profit from Bible sales as if he knew God better than all of the people of faith in God’s world throughout history? Insinuating that his words along with words and images he specifically endorses or feels should be added to the Holy Scriptures God has provided to all of the people of the world. Aligning the Gospel truths of Jesus Christ with his one-sided point of view.

Church, don’t you want to hold onto Jesus as Mary did … screaming out RABBOUNI …. TEACHER please teach me more about living my life so that I can care for the least of those amongst us … so that I will never hesitate to be the first to cross the road to care for the burglarized, the wounded and injured and broken as that good good man from Samaria demonstrating Your expectations did rather than joining those who choose to hurt women and children and the vulnerable in our world. Choosing to be different from the world because I WANT TO WAKE UP WITH YOU GOD each day!!

Church it is EASTER … HE IS RISEN!! <<He is Risen Indeed>>. Doesn’t that feel good to shout out? Don’t you want the peace that exceeds human understanding?

I am not here to claim it is easy to reject the world but boy oh boy any of us who have opened the Gospels should be able to differentiate God’s expectations from some of the realities we seem willing to accept each day out in the world around us. However, I am here to proclaim that despite our shortcomings, our sins, our faults, and whatever unique problems we each have … God is a God of love whose angels celebrate each and every person who comes back to actually believe and live a life according to God’s teaching for believers.

You and I … we can be believers not just card carrying Christians … I happened to find my membership card in the Bowling Congress this week. I have the card but believe me I am not an active member but I have an id number … just like saying I am a Christian but then living as if I never even tried to practice my faith.

It was dark that morning … the worst possible event that was beyond any nightmare that they might have dreamed had happened to these women. Their Jesus had been executed on an awful wooden cross and hung out to die. They had seen His pain and anguish … heard Him call out that it was finished. They knew Joseph and Nicodemus had placed Him in a tomb … they came to care for the body in the darkness but soon friends … soon on that EASTER MORNING when perhaps they were truly questioning God … they would see the light.

They found that the rock had been rolled back … Jesus was not locked in … Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying … the angels asked her why she was crying and she said, “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have put him.”

And, just as she said those words that Jesus had been taken away and hidden He appeared. Jesus Christ alive in the garden … and His Light shown out onto her! She woke up to God’s promised truth embraced by God’s love in Jesus Christ. Her darkness turned into hope … and she hurried to tell the disciples: I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!”

Easter … a simple calendar day, March 31st in the year 2024 this year. Are you ready to let God’s light through Jesus Christ wake your faith up into an activism that will not only surprise your friends but perhaps surprise yourself? I cannot change your Easter priorities nor your priorities for tomorrow but I certainly hope that you are not controlled by the world making you an April Fool tomorrow.

We can be difference makers … we need to roll back the rocks that have been blocking the light of Christ from our lives so that we wake up with God each day because out of love God has given us Jesus to teach us, to love us, and then to take our sins to the cross but the good news of Easter friends is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, He is Risen! God’s love for all of the world … God of all … God of love who sent Jesus Christ and Jesus friends, HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>. AMEN

[1] Sundays and seasons.com Copyright 2024 Augsburg Fortress

© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ