Monday, March 25, 2013
Pastorgraphs: “An Easter Surprise”
March 25, 2013
Pastorgraphs: “An Easter Surprise”
Having delivered over 40 Easter sermons, I wanted to find a new approach to one of the most familiar stories of all time. So I read anew the account of Mark, whom most scholars agree was the first of the gospel writers to document the Easter story.
"When the Sabbath had passed, Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices to go and anoint his body. Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, when the sun was rising, they went to the tomb. They kept saying to each other, 'Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?' They looked up and they saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was very large.” (Mark 16:1-3) William Barclay translation.
As the women made their way to the tomb that early Sunday morning, they were concerned about the logistics of opening the tomb. The women knew the authorities had sealed the tomb to insure no one could get in (or out). But God had already taken care of that (which would have been most difficult for the women to do by their own strength) so they could experience and understand something much more profound – the Resurrection. Matthew added “for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it.” (I like that the angel sat upon the stone, signifying human power is no match for the spiritual power of God.)
Concern over how we will roll away the stones in our life reminds us that:
1. we spend too much time worrying about things over which we have no control,
2. we depend upon our own power and strength when God’s power is already working for us,
3. and, we often miss the big picture because we are focusing on the little stuff.
In all fairness, nothing like this had ever happened before. Although Jesus told the disciples he would be arrested, tried and executed, and that he would rise on the third day, they still didn’t get it. They thought he was speaking in parables again. Although they were prepared physically to anoint Jesus’ body, a common decency denied him at his burial, and were devising a way to physically move the enormous stone, they clearly were unprepared spiritually to receive the greatest Good News of all time. Knowing what we now know, it is easy to second guess them; to ask “Where is your faith?” Had any of us been with them, getting past the giant stone would have been our concern as well. [Sidebar: Thank God for the women in our churches who take care of the logistics of church life!]
So where are the stones in your life? Your health, your job, your family, your finances? Stones represent those obstacles that prevent us from experiencing the joyful abundant life Jesus wants us to have, just as it separated the women from discovering the greatest joy of their lives. Our stones may include anger, bitterness, un-forgiveness, anxiety, and certainly include the lack of faith, hope and love. In my own life, I have seen God move many stones I could have never been able to move by myself. When God has a plan for your life, don’t worry about excavating the landscape; He has rolling away the stones all under control.
So there is yet another powerful sermon in this ageless story. I hope to share it Sunday at 10:00 AM with the family of believers at Christ Ministry Center and Exodus Church. Here is a sneak peek.
When God rolls away the stone:
1. Worry rolls away into Praise
2. Sadness rolls away into Joy
3. Impossibility rolls away into Accomplishment
4. Death rolls away into Life
Luke recorded how the angel inside the tomb asked, “Why are you looking for him who is alive among the dead? He is not here; he is risen.” That remains the essential question of Easter.
The Resurrection is the most important event for Christians. Upon this single event hinges the basis of all our being. Paul said, “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” But he hastens to add: “But now IS Christ risen from the dead.”
May God roll away the stones in your life that separate you from experiencing the power of the resurrection in our daily life.
[Image used by permission. ©James Steidl - Fotolia.com]
From the Quote Garden:
“Easter is not a time for groping through dusty, musty tomes or tombs to disprove spontaneous generation or even to prove life eternal. It is a day to fan the ashes of dead hope, a day to banish doubts and seek the slopes where the sun is rising, to revel in the faith which transports us out of ourselves and the dead past into the vast and inviting unknown.”
~ Author unknown, as quoted in the Lewiston Tribune ~
Easter Joint Worship Service:
You are invited to a joint worship Easter Celebration Sunday, March 31, 10:00 AM, sponsored by Exodus Church and the Methodist congregations at 33rd and Meade. Everyone is invited to attend. Multiple choirs will sing, and I have the honor of preaching the Easter Sermon. It will be a glorious day, similar to multi-congregational services we have experienced in the past.
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205