THE POWER IS ON
1 John 3: 1-7
LUKE 24: 36b-48
April 18, 2021 SEASON of EASTER
There is such a powerful resonance throughout Christian churches during the Easter season that unfortunately seems to diminish with each passing week. It is confounding to me how we the people who proclaim Jesus Christ as Savior … we the people who actually on occasion glance skyward acknowledging that somewhere out beyond our comprehension resides the God of creation … the Higher power whose untold abilities and strengths cannot be grasped resides. We even at times are the people who tacitly nod our heads knowing that God’s Holy Spirit is desperately trying to direct our lives into the pathway that the prophet Jeremiah promised to people of faith in that all too often repeated verse, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future with hope.” And, still worship celebrations that are viewed as essential fade into the sunset … as if the Son of God’s rising no longer matters.
Easter annually enlightens us … Christmas sort of does that too but then we vanquish the reflection of the shepherds in the field proclaiming the birth of a Savior with awe by focusing on a chimney-dusted figure riding on a sleigh pulled by those essential Nordic members of the deer family who we have repeatedly reminded our children and ourselves of their ability to fly plus we celebrate the red nosed one who lost at games until that foggy night. Yes, the potential of those two major calendar events of faith-connection even for the biannual attenders focused on tradition are quickly put aside.
But friends, is it possible … can we begin to consider on this the third Sunday of Easter’s season of 2021 whether the power of our faith has finally been turned on minus the off switch. Have the realities of the world we exist in reminded us of the value of the God we accept as real? The Jesus who we perhaps are now ready to accept not merely in name but as Master over our lives’ direction? Can the Holy Spirit’s nudges … when we start to say or type something that counters Scripture actually cause us to pause, reflect, and then to behave as God would have us act? Or does the dimmer switch of faith conveniently provided to us courtesy of a world influenced by The Evil Power still function in our lives? Yes, I believe there is an Evil Power. And, are you wondering why the peace and joy have vaporized from your life and fears persist?
HE IS RISEN!! <<He is Risen Indeed!>> Once again, I want you to sense God’s love and God’s power and yes God’s direction for you and me … HE IS RISEN!!! <<He is Risen Indeed!>>
You see church … we have developed an understanding that there is a certain faith energy or power when we shout and respond to those 3 simple words during worship in church especially during the Easter season. You can sense it … I sure can feel it. A reflection of Jesus Christ. A celebration of God’s love and truth for each of us that takes us up and beyond the din of the world’s condition whether we are here in this building or connected in worship through the Internet. We can experience God’s power when we let ourselves be freely lifted up in God’s love. When we stop worrying about others and start worshiping for ourselves. When worship is worship and not just a meeting.
I want those of you who are viewing us right now to respond to me in your loudest voices so that the people here in this church can hear you. Do you have that much courage to turn the power of your faith on for a moment in your living rooms? In your kitchens? Or wherever you are … even if you wake up others in your homes or even if you disturb those with you who are choosing not to worship God this morning; might be good for them to be disturbed even if they might yell out … ‘What’s the racket about … be quiet!” Can you do it … can you shout it out; do you have the courage? DO YOU HAVE THE FAITH TO DECLARE IT OUT LOUD? Here goes:
HE IS RISEN!!! <<He is Risen Indeed!>>
When you can comfortably and freely shout that your personal Savior; the Son of God; and promised Messiah is alive and doing quite well without hesitation you have discovered the potential of maintaining the power of your faith. When your desire to live a life of peace with joy and know that reading the Gospels brings you closer to knowing God’s expectations and you actually read God’s Word daily it begins to happen. And, then worship will become something you need because God is worthy of it.
Friends, I have found the need since this Easter to actually shout out HE IS RISEN pretty much every day since April 4th. And, believe me Chelsea has stared at me with her cat eyes wide open on more than a couple of occasions but oh well.
A friend was telling me about how her entire house is now linked to Alexa. The lights, the thermostat, the security system … everything. In their home they just say Alexa turn on the lights … Alexa raise the temperature to 68 … Alexa, Alexa, Alexa …. My goodness friends … are you willing to call out to God in celebration each day to get your hope, your joy, your renewal by shouting HE IS RISEN? Are you willing to declare God, Jesus, Holy Spirit … empower my life with love, joy and peace so that I can be yours? Are you willing to put all that you are in the hands of God so you can sense God’s power and love?
And, here we are in worship again. Some folks complaining that they can’t socialize with more people in person …and I ask, is the intent of these Sunday morning hours worship or is it chit chat?
I would like to argue today that once again through the season of Lent and Holy Week God has provided us with the ability to turn the power of our faith on, which will change how we worship and how we live our lives. Being God-focused not world connecting … requires us to dot some dots and to realize our potential as believers. That when we worship in person or at home we sing the hymns, pray the prayers, and focus in on God’s Word. That no longer will cell phones be glanced at during any worship service we attend nor clocks focused on to insure that breakfasts begin at their expected hour. Can you imagine a time when worship will bring calls for the Holy Spirit to direct us into new missions for the sake of Jesus Christ rather than being compacted so that new gossip about those we know can be shared before leaving the building called church?
This morning we have again heard the Gospel lesson of those disciples who travelled with Jesus and watched as He performed miracles; listened as the Son of God challenged the religious leaders focused on their rules and power; and they saw Jesus showcase love for all valuing the downtrodden, society’s rejects, and the poor. Valuing justice. Yet, these disciples were afraid of the Risen Jesus … a ghost? As I read this lesson from Luke again I began to wonder if in seeing the Risen Jesus Christ they started to realize that their lives would never be the same and that they now had new responsibilities. Jesus asked them, “Why are doubts arising in your hearts?” Luke states that they were “terrified and afraid!” But Jesus kept saying PEACE BE WITH YOU … John in his Gospel reports the same truth writing, “Jesus said to us PEACE BE WITH YOU … as the Father sent me, so I am sending you. Receive the Holy Spirit. PEACE BE WITH YOU!”
And, John mentioned the faith responsibility … Jesus and God’s expectation for carrying out the Easter message with the power of God’s peace is repeated in Matthew 28, Mark 16, John 21, and Acts 1. People of faith are empowered to go into the world with God’s peace .. the power of God has been passed onto us through God’s Holy Spirit but it remains a question of receiving the Spirit and accepting the assignment or whether we return back into the world because after all … the discounted Easter candy is pretty much gone from the shelves so that must mean we don’t have to worry about the tomb, the cross, the Savior … nor our faith any more. At least that would appear to be the choice of some but I hope not your choice.
I want to take a brief proud dad moment … yesterday my daughter Colleen added three initials to her name. RDN. Now, I have to admit that I had to google RDN this morning to discover that those initials mean that my daughter, Dr. Colleen Delaney-Lewis is now a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Whatever that means … heck she was already a doctor of nutrition but she needed to pass this massive examination yesterday to get those needed initials that complete her education. RDN. She has worked hard and she studied hard but she was concerned this week whether she’d pass the test that many fail.
Church, do you pass the test of using God’s power in your life to make disciples for Jesus Christ? Do you pass the test of living for Jesus as if your final examination was scheduled for later in the day and that in failing the God test you could not go forward to where you want to be? Or is your faith just a word attached to your name?
In speaking with His disciples Jesus reminded them of the Easter experience that they had just witnessed. How what they knew as truth fulfilled the prophecies of old. “This is what is written, Jesus said. The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.”
Oh yes … HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>
Back to the Gospel, “The Christ will rise on the third day <<<oh yes, I want to shout it again …>>> and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins MUST BE PREACHED in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Friends …. Did you hear the MUST … do you count yourself as a witness to and for Jesus? All nations … A CHANGE OF HEART AND LIFE Jesus said are needed for the forgiveness of sins.
God’s love does not require a lot … God has given us the power supply to plug into if we want to connect with God and Jesus Christ but we are the ones who make the decision because that power is always on.
A CHANGE OF HEART and LIFE that is one of the gifts I believe every Easter season offers to us. Reminders over the 40 days of Lent that we need to get closer to God and to Christ and to accept the Holy Spirit. Holy Week beginning with the release of great joy on Palm Sunday as we take into consideration the Jesus we know entering the city but we should have the same joy if we let Jesus enter our hearts and minds not temporarily but as a part of who we are.
HOLY WEEK with its painful truth that Jesus paid the price of salvation for us. On that dirty forlorn cross with rusty nails pounded into Him … that Holy Week Friday should make us sad and relieved that God loved us so much that He gave God’s only Son for us and then EASTER … my goodness EASTER
HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> I just had to shout it again church … don’t you want to shout it at home? On Monday’s and Wednesday’s of course don’t skip Tuesday’s.
And, John wrote in his letter, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us in that we should be called God’s children.” Created in the image of God … we are God’s children and John continues “we will be like him when he appears for us to see.” While warning us not to be deceived … but to be righteous in the same way that Jesus is righteous.
So, if we pack away Easter and don’t plus into God’s power it is very difficult to be righteous. If we allow the Evil Power to deceive and lead our lives then who will we reflect?
I referenced Jeremiah 29 earlier but we always just listen to one verse but before Jeremiah talks about the plans for us that God has the prophet warns God’s people not to let people in our midst mislead us nor to accept their lies. And, then when we focus on God we need to call on God … search for God with all of our heart that is when we will find God. That is when we will connect with God’s power … when we listen to the Holy Spirit … change our lives and actually listen and obey what God has taught then the Easter promise … can be in place … the power will be on … the Lord’s plans for peace not disaster will be ours a future of hope … a future with Jesus … a future where we worship with all of our hearts and live our days ready to declare with enthusiasm and love to anyone we meet …
HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> AMEN