IS THERE MORE?
Acts 5: 27-32
JOHN 20: 19-29
April 28, 2019
He is Risen! <He is Risen Indeed>
Do you ever wonder church if there is more? Now, I am not asking if you dismiss Easter the holiday of faith … or Christmas the holiday of Jesus or should I say Christmas Eve the holiday of Jesus because on Christmas Day we all know what we are doing.
IS THERE MORE … and in light of the hate that was on vivid display this week … as we again mourn those attacked and killed while worshipping … this time in a synagogue CHABAD of POWAY … by a white Christian American terrorist who also claims to have been the arsonist who fire bombed a mosque in that community a few weeks ago. The woman who died jumped in front of her rabbi as this American born terrorist fired his weapon of war sacrificed herself in her place of worship to the bullets of hate … we continue to mourn those who died while worshipping in Sri Lanka and New Zealand or do we? Are we posting old news to verify our hate? I know some on my Facebook who this week dug up 3 and 4 year old stories to justify their points of view rather than mourning the world community’s non-discriminatory victims of hate. And, I was threatened by one of their friends who said “he wasn’t as nice” as my friend who posted the hate and I had better watch out.
I wonder how many people who chose to worship on Easter Sunday want more than the Easter lily’s or the palm souvenir of the Holy Season. Is there more? Do we offer more or encourage more or live more Jesus?
The Romans and the Pharisees most certainly did not want there to be more of this Jesus thing after they hung our Savior … our Lord and well … I was going to say Master but perhaps that is part of the challenge in being a Christian; it’s choosing to celebrate and embrace and worship and follow Jesus of the Bible. But, factually and truthfully the powers of His time … they did not want Jesus to be anything more than a body they secured in a tomb.
The truth today … the reality of our times is that the powerful and the hate-filled and even our neighbors and friends who don’t go to church who dismiss Jesus call to love all of our neighbors … they also hope that Jesus lies quietly in His grave. Did any of your friends or family ask about your plans for this Sunday … I know I was asked about last Sunday … pastor ‘how many services are you having? … pastor ‘are you doing an Easter Sunrise service? … And, then after … ‘how many people in church for Easter; Pastor?’
Well, if you want the statistics … we had 250 people in this church last week and that was awesome! And many of them were in church for Easter not for Jesus not for God but for Easter because if they were here for Jesus and God then you would think that they’d be back today; So yes, I am challenged to ask myself and to ask all of you IS THERE MORE?
And, I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer … I could dance and sing like last week because church I know and you know that JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED!>>
Now, I did charge in from the rear of our church last Sunday dancing and full of joy and I want to assure you that I am not a doubting Thomas … Thomas we again heard this morning wanted more proof than the EASTER MESSAGE that was preached to him by his fellow disciples.
You see Thomas missed the Easter evening service where Jesus was praised … where Jesus walked in … where Jesus shared the answer to the question is there more after the cross … is there more for people of faith … is there more for those who believe … You just heard it again; I just heard it again; we all need to be assured and yes filled with this truth because the truth of the Risen Jesus Christ should give us joy every day JOY TO THE WORLD THE LORD HAS COME … LET EARTH RECEIV … well, it’s all about receiving our King isn’t it.
On that first Easter Sunday it was the disciples who were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Pharisees … you see those early followers of Jesus did not want to expose themselves as EASTER people. They had heard from Mary Magdalene that Jesus was alive but they were still afraid. They did not want the scorn, the mocking or worse from those who wanted to reject the love message of Jesus.
Church, because when we love all of our neighbors we immediately challenge those who love their power and their position. When we stand up for the hurting in the world we cause those who have more than they need to start thinking they might lose a little if those who are hungry or sick get anything … the Jesus message was one that those 10 men behind the doors were afraid to share when they first heard it. BUT … BUT then the ultimate preacher came in … the pastor … the rabbi .. the Son of God … and church what was the message of that first sermon delivered to the earliest EASTER People … and we are Easter people church because it is with great joy that we can declare HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>
Now doesn’t that feel good … did you go home dancing and singing I FEEL GOOD last Sunday? I know some of you listened to some James Brown after church but did you share the message outside these doors … did you talk about the crazy man dancing in his robe … did you have the courage to come out from behind your closed doors to declare that Easter is about God and Jesus … Easter is about affirming our faith and yes, there is more than the baskets, the meals, the special day in church …
And, there was Jesus church … His message to those who know Jesus is alive; His message to those who know He rose up from that tomb … PEACE BE WITH YOU!
He showed them His hands and His side … they were filled with what? JOY … JOY TO THE … well, you know the song. But, Jesus sermon was more than just peace church … Jesus began His final truth … His final call … and church there is so much more than just Easter and Jesus told His disciples right THEN and THERE … PEACE BE WITH YOU … as the FATHER SENT ME … SO I AM SENDING YOU!
Now, Jesus was one to repeat messages and when He stood on the crest of the Mount of Olives preparing to ascend into heaven what was His message again … GO INTO THE WORLD BELIEVERS … If you truly believe … if you truly love Jesus and God … if you reject the world … You and I have been sent not to agree with our elected leaders … not to bow down in awe of the rich and famous … we are being called and sent to deliver the EASTER message .. the GOOD NEWS truth … to tell of God’s love through Jesus Christ.
But then there are the doubters … Thomas, he had heard his friends as they shared every single word that Jesus spoke that night. The Peace message … the go into the world message and perhaps it was that part that Thomas chose to reject because of doubt and fear. But we know Thomas doubted … church, I know that there are many people who go into our churches today who want to love Jesus … who want to follow God but they find the world’s message much clearer … they find the world’s message more powerful … they sometimes hold onto those who shout and scream and put down those these church goers don’t like because it gives these folks some kind of stranger power over others … they like Thomas have heard the words but aren’t living the faith perhaps because they want to see more.
Jesus in the 21st century is not available for a traveling road show where people can put their fingers into His side but Jesus in the 21st century is alive and well church! His light shines through bold people of faith who are ready and willing to stand up … to declare PEACE to the world if the world believes … Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into those disciples; our faith gives us that same Holy Spirit to guide us. Our faith friends … our faith is the more we need to hold tightly onto; our faith is our only difference maker in this fast paced world.
Some of you saw that it was my youngest daughter’s 29th birthday yesterday … in another month she will have a child. 29 years in a flash … our lives in motion either slowly or quickly moving but time keeps on moving … we each have a choice to make more of our God …. More of our Jesus … to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us more than ever before because our time is fleeting … I was asked about next year’s Easter this week and said, I don’t know where or if I will be here next Easter why aren’t you asking me about today or tomorrow. Church are you interested in the more that Jesus can give to you and are you willing to give the more back that He is asking for?
In our history lesson from Acts we here that the disciples were brought before the law lovers … before the powerful who had just secured a chanting mob’s help to crucify Jesus, the Son of God, and they asked the apostles; those early believers … hey asked … they demanded “In no uncertain terms you are not to teach in the name of Jesus. Look at you … you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching about Him …”
Are you sharing the Jesus story? Are you getting the powerful angry? Or are you thinking that less is more …
Peter’s response “WE MUST OBEY God rather than humans … God has exalted Jesus as leader and savior so that God’s people could find forgiveness for sin. We are witnesses as is the Holy Spirit, which is given to those who obey God.”
Obey God … be a witness … change the world … there is more for us to take on in the coming weeks if we believe … if we cherish God … if we find joy in Jesus Christ. Your choice, my choice … God’s call and Jesus direction and teaching.
To the doubters of Jesus we are His Light … to those who turn away we are the ones who can bring them home to God … to the hate-filled we offer the option of love. There is more church … I pray that in the coming days, weeks, months, and year we are the more that can change the world and again fill this and other churches with people embracing Jesus rather than a calendar date that suggests the ritual include some church time.