St Barnabas, Norwich VT
Sermon by Rev Jennie M Anderson
Lord, make us stewards of ourselves, that we may be servants of others. Take my words and speak through them, take our minds and think through them, take our hearts and set them on fire, for Jesus’ sake. Amen. Good morning! Welcome!
This morning I want to talk about the suspending our disbelief for a little while. Really, to be a Christian is a gutsy thing. I mean, basically, we claim that there was this amazing person who walked on this earth, was born in a very special way and lived like you and me… (only a little differently), then, when he was supposed to take over and become the king because he was so astonishingly wise, he got crucified instead, then… the most incredible thing, I mean, really not credible, as is unbelievable, he rose from the dead! He was resurrected! That! Is! Hard! To! Believe! But…. That’s where the hope of a Christian truly lives so, how do we pass this around? It’s not easy. We have been doing this for a long time now and this one part doesn’t seem to get any easier… except maybe with practice!
So, before we actually take a moment to practice, let’s talk a little more about what we’ve got going on in the story tonight. In this evening’s gospel, the last reading of all the readings, we read a short version of the very specific part of the story, just the discovery of the lack of a body and how the disciples went about coming to terms with the situation. There are four different versions of this story, told by four different Gospel story tellers… so, tonight we are listening only to Luke. The women arrive, find the rock moved away, then after the deep groveling in the absolutely shocked silence the glowing angel inspires while speaking to them, they get up and run to their friends and babble out chaotically the story they experienced. Of course none of them believe the ranting… why would they? But Peter, bless his soul, must have heard something speak to his heart as he got his friend and they went to check it out…
If I haven’t done it already yet, if I get nothing else across to you, I want to especially impress upon you tonight that this is an incredible story… this is an almost impossible story to believe… that makes it very interesting. Have you noticed that those who really really believe and tell it out, like the raving person on the street corner shouting out, “Repent! Repent!” those folks who really get this story for the truth it is telling are mostly regarded as lunatics, crazy persons, or maybe special needs people in the sanity department… but here we are, all very sane and normal… talking about a story of an impossible act… and we who just baptized our new family member, all of us who witnessed it, get to keep telling little Grace and each other this fantastic story over and over in throughout her life too! It’s no wonder some folks want to go check out other faiths and see about and explore other ways of finding God, I mean, this belief that we have, a man, was born into a man’s body, after being formed by God’s very own self, he lives and teaches, then gets murdered by the empire for being a fanatic, gets buried in a tomb then After he’s dead for three days, he resurrects and stays around for a while then goes to heaven… of course it happens every day. The Jews are the normal sane ones, they only believe a whole body of water parted to let the slaves escape only to close in on their captors… that stories very plausible… in comparison… well, guess what, we believe that part too… and the one about the flood, the 800 year-old Noah, the dry bones coming together and dancing around… But of all of these stories, we believe that Jesus Christ died, went to the place of death and then after three days he was resurrected… hmmmm
So, the really cool part of all of this is that this incredible story brings hope for all people… the faith, the belief, the fantastic hope that comes from this story needs to be told over and over again. After all, death has been conquered! We mostly don’t act that way even though we do say we are Christians, so, think about that for a minute… if death no longer has its sting, life eternal will come to all of us who practice the faith, then what ever are we afraid of… that we won’t get to be rich? Who cares we have eternal life? …that we won’t find the right class of one to marry? Who cares, we have eternal life? … that we won’t have enough stuff for when we retire? Who cares, we have eternal life? … this really can put things into perspective for us if we practice telling the story of our faith.
So, now, I want us to practice telling that story to each other. think of all of our children and our parents, our brothers and sisters that we have to tell that story to… think about the story and get ready… now turn to the person sitting next to you, and in your own words, tell the story… one person tells the story, and one listens to it… so you decide who tells and who listens then… tell how the women got up very early in the morning, went down to the tomb and found that Jesus Christ is risen! Take about 5 minutes… as it didn’t take three minutes to read the gospel today and you get to use your own words! Let’s practice… I’ll go over here and hear it from Flora!
OK, now back to the center here! How did that go? Well, we will need to practice now won’t we… well I hope we get the practice as we begin to have a lay-preaching ministry here in the church starting this very Easter season! So, this is all just practice… as is the truth of our life, we have a bunch of practices that we do day in and day out, then we get old and move on into our eternal reward… so, all of life is practice. But to practice telling the story that is worth all of life as the more we tell the story, the more we get to live the life of freedom and grace. We tell the story, and we believe. We tell the story and we understand. We tell the story and we begin to really love one another. We tell the story and we begin to learn how to forgive. We tell the story and we heal… it’s a funny story that way. It changes lives.
Happy Easter Every One! Amen.