Resurrection Sunday: Easter Day Principle Service

Hallelujah, the Lord Is Risen

On this Resurrection Sunday let us, once more, hear the good news:

Alleluia!  The Lord is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Let us here from those who were first at the scene of this glorious moment:

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”   (Matthew 28:1-7)

Why did Jesus appear to these women? Why did he not appear to his disciples instead? The women’s testimony was, at first, dismissed by the disciples. What they said was not taken that seriously. From the words of Peter in today’s reading from Acts, we learn that the women were specifically chosen by God to be witnesses of the resurrection:

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”   (Acts 10:36-43)

Why did God choose these women? They were just ordinary people. They were just servants to the disciples. (Let us remember who the chief servant of all.) Despite all the hardships and persecution, thee women were faithful to the end. None of us are more special than others. None of us are great. But we have is a great message. It is the most important message in all the world. Accordingly, God choses faithful people proclaim – people who will not shrink back when the going gets tough.

God depends on people who have received the message and taken it into their hearts. The Apostle Paul writes:

But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
    on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”   (Romans 10:8-13)

The resurrection is a powerful message. Nevertheless, it is no more powerful than the eagerness of the person to receive it. But people must be given a chance to hear it.  Paul writes:

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.   (Romans 10:14-17)

We are just ordinary people. But God has called us to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. But we may say that we were not there at the time of the resurrection. That should not stop us from believing. Thomas was there. He was an Apostle. But he did not believe at first. From the Gospel of John we read that the risen Lord spoke to him about us:

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”   (John 20:27-29)

We have not seen, but we have come to believe. We believe because someone else told us about the resurrection and the Holy Spirit confirmed the message within our hearts. And someone else told them.

We have a high calling. It is a calling not to become important. It is a calling to speak an all important message. The psalmist wrote:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures for ever.

Let Israel now proclaim,
“His mercy endures for ever.”

The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.

There is a sound of exultation and victory
in the tents of the righteous:

“The right hand of the Lord has triumphed!
the right hand of the Lord is exalted!
the right hand of the Lord has triumphed!”

I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.   (Psalm 118:1-2,14-17)

This is our message. That is our calling. Jesus reigns. He will soon return. He is counting on our voice.

From Isaiah:

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”   (Isaiah 52:7)

Let us spread good news of happiness:

Alleluia!  The Lord is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

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Filed under Easter, Eucharist, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Resurrection Sunday, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year A

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