Romans 12: 1,2 and 9-13
JOHN 20: 11-18

EASTER SUNRISE 2021 April 4, 2021

Church there is one reason I stayed up past midnight last night … there is one reason I am here in these moments … I am here to declare to you and the world that HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED!>> The Son of God, Jesus Christ, my Savior and I Hope yours too … is not some myth but is a reality from God who has delivered the lessons of life for the faithful and salvation for all.

It’s funny but last night as I walked home from church I started thinking about the neighbors … we just might be waking some of them up this morning and I started to think whether that was a good thing to do but the truth is … in the times we are alive … is there anything better than being woken up to hearing that JESUS CHRIST IS ALIVE!  THAT HE HS RISEN <<He is RISEN Indeed>>

Perhaps one of the challenges of the Christian community in the year 2021 is that we are very careful to couch what we believe into small corners where no one will notice or no one will hear.  It’s almost like we are trying to hide the bright Light of Jesus by converting it to small group discussion so that it never leaks out to the public.  I could understand why children who are so busy with their little league practices and dance recitals that they have never seen even a hint of Jesus might not recognize Jesus if He showed up … Mary didn’t recognize Him at first thinking that he was the gardener.

Where have you put Him?” She asks.  She even volunteers to go get Him yet there He was right before her.   Her face was covered in her salty tears … her eyes bleary from her loud crying thinking that Jesus was gone ….

Do you cry when you consider how lost Jesus is in today’s world?  Would you go get Him to bring Him back if you could?

Those are challenges of Easter my friends. Today is day of joyful praise. HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>. Today, is day to remember that Jesus believers … Jesus followers … those who consider Jesus to be more than a man … those of us who call Him Savior we are not as Paul wrote, “not to be conformed to the world but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can figure out what God’s will is … what is good and pleasing and mature.”

I love that word mature that is used in the Common English Bible translation because I am reminded how many of our neighbors use bullying made up phrases just like junior high children.  Finding joy in bullying, mocking, and finding fault in those who disagree with you certainly are the acts of the immature not the mature.  But Paul is saying we need to experience a renewal … of our minds because our minds lead to our hearts and bring about our actions.

I have frequently argued that the Lenten Season in addition to being society’s season for diet promises and restrictions on eating candies, other sweets or even fasting from social media has a more important purpose for people of faith that reaches its pinnacle in Holy Week.  The Lenten season by its 40 days that are reflective of so many Biblical sojourns into restorative lives offers us a time to renew our minds and reinvigorate our faith.  And, yes discover what God wants us to do … what is good and pleasing and yes mature.

We come this morning to watch the horizon and see the sun as we remember that God’s Son went into the total darkness of death only to be restored beyond His worldly body and established as Messiah and Master to those who had been walking with Him and to all of us who follow.

The transition for believers from Good Friday’s sorrow … Good Friday’s anquish that is so reflective of what the world offers because there is so much fear and sadness on Good Friday … but in the course of a few short hours God allows sorrow to turn to joy …darkness to light and we can shout to the world HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> we can sing “I serve a Risen Savior He’s in the World today …HE LIVES CHRIST JESUS LIVES TODAY HE WALKS WITH ME AND TALKS …. Well there is the challenge we wake up to.

Do we find it worthwhile to wake up to Jesus on days not labeled Easter or Christmas Eve?  Do we find the time investment in God’s teaching to have any value unless we are lying on a hospital bed and have just been informed we have perhaps days left … guess God matters then.

EASTER is a day of such joy but as it represents the concluding hours of the Lenten season I feel the need to remind myself and each of you of the factors for renewal and reenergizing of our faith.  The good news is that Paul provides the answers so this is a mere primer … I do hope that as our Monday’s and Tuesday’s arrive we can agree with Paul’s admonition in two of his letters that it is a good thing to rejoice in the Lord all the time; makes for a better life friends … you know “My cup runneth over surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life …”

Basically Paul is paraphrasing Jesus … but as we remember HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> let us make our days worth waking up to by embracing the simple Easter message from Paul … Love should be shown without pretending … HATE EVIL and HOLD onto what is good. LOVE EACH other like you are members of the same family … ok, find a family that showcases love … show honor to each other.

But here’s the one that struck me as the contradiction in so many Christian lives today, which might be a reason less than 50% of Americans affiliate with any church.  DO NOT HESITATE to be ENTHUSIASTIC for the LORD!!  Be on FIRE in the SPIRIT as you serve the Lord!  Be HAPPY in your hope, stand your grown when you are in trouble … devote yourselves to prayer and contribute to the needs of God’s people and welcome strangers into your home …”

That Paul guy might have made a good pastor … BE ENTHUSIASTIC … on EASTER it is easy to echo the pastor when I say He is Risen but would you shout JESUS IS RISEN at work or as you barbecued in your back yard?  Once we are comfortable with our enthusiasm of faith in Jesus Christ then we will sing with veracity I’ve got the joy, joy, joy joy down in my heart … down in my heart down in my heart. I’ve got the … well, you know the rest JOY TO THE WORLD THE LORD HAS COME and today we know that HE IS RISEN!

WAKE UP tomorrow morning knowing the day is worth being full of joy and enthusiasm because HE WILL STILL BE RISEN TOMORROW and the NEXT DAY and HE and GOD will be loving you and me … EASTER is all about that love … it’s about all of us getting onboard that love train! AMEN

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