Easter Sermon

Raised with Christ. Celebrating the resurrected life.

Colossians 3:1-4

March 23rd, 2008

Christ is Risen.  He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia. 

            The call to worship had just been pronounced starting Easter Sunday Morning service in an East Texas church. The choir started its processional, singing "Up from the Grave He Arose" as they marched in perfect step down the center aisle to the front of the church. The last lady was wearing shoes with very slender heels.  Without a thought for her fancy heels, she marched toward the grating that covered that hot air register in the middle of the aisle. Suddenly the heel of one shoe sank into the hole in the register grate. In a flash she realized her predicament. Not wishing to hold up the whole processional, without missing a step, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and continued marching down the aisle. There wasn’t a hitch. The processional moved with clock-like precision. The first man after her spotted the situation and without losing a step, reached down and pulled up her shoe, but the entire grate came with it! Surprised, but still singing, the man kept on going down the aisle, holding in his hand the grate with the shoe attached.    Everything still moved like clockwork. Still in tune and still in step, the next man in line stepped into the open register and disappeared from sight. The service took on a special meaning that Sunday, for just as the choir ended with "Allelujah! Christ arose!" a voice was heard under the church shouting…"I hope all of you are out of the way ‘cause I’m coming out now!" The little girl closest to the aisle shouted, "Come on, Jesus! We’ll stay out of the way."

            To that little girl the resurrection of Jesus was extremely real, and she did not bat an eye, in believing that it really could have been Jesus down there.   For us gathered here this morning, there is more going on than a good story.       While the resurrection of Christ was a real historical (past)  event, it more importantly  has an impact on our present and our future.  In a very real sense the death and resurrection of Jesus is also tied into our history with Jesus.  There are over 300 verses that concern themselves with Christ’s resurrection in the New Testament.  These verses are not only found in one of the four gospels, but many if not most are found in the letters of the New Testament.  Including today’s Epistle reading from  the Colossians.  Our text for today bridges the gap of around 2000 years of history between Christ’s resurrection and our present life.  Colossians 3 states “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God….for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ.”  Here we see that the resurrection of Christ changes our now.  This was summed up well in

an article titled, "What Easter Means to Me," by Dr. Oswald Hoffmann.  He wrote “The resurrection means   that life is changed. It is life all right, but it is changed. Easter means that death is changed. It is still death, but it is changed."  What does has it, and will it change?    It has changed our past.  It changes our present, and it  changes our future.

            A little over five years ago when America went into Iraq, the initial bombardment of Baghdad was called “Shock and Awe”.  The idea, if you recall, was that with   overpowering firepower the enemy will be overwhelmed into submission.   I couldn’t help but sense in the account of Jesus resurrection a great deal of shock and awe not with destruction in mind, but with reconciliation in mind.  There must have been great shock when the women went to the tomb and experienced an earthquake and saw an angel whose appearance was like lightening.  This shock even spread to the guards who trembled and became as dead men.   Both shock and awe must have been present when Jesus said at the words which must have seemed like nonsense,   “Do not be afraid….He is not here , he has risen as he said”.   Then there is all that running from the tomb to the disciples with “fear and joy”.  Then, to top it all off, the women  fell at the feet of Jesus, worshiping him and then having him say “Do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee for they will see me”.  This shock and awe though was not over destruction, but rather over the power of life.   The power of resurrected life.  The power of the risen Savior.

            This has changed our past.  In Colossians it says   you died, and that you have been raised with Christ.  Romans 6:4-5 says “We were buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised form the dead through the glory of the Father, we to may live a new life.”   As believers and as baptized believers there is a very real sense that Jesus took us along to the cross and the open tomb.  We have already died  the real death, the important death.      A person’s past is very important.   People study their history and genealogy to learn about themselves.  Your past and my past probably has good parts to it, and a number of failures in it.  Whether our past is great in our minds or not so great,  as Christians we have a new past, and its all tied up with Jesus in the cross, tomb, and in the resurrection.  Our past has changed.

            The resurrection also changes our present.  It means that now we are “To set our minds on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God”.  In Matthew 6 Jesus says “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  A man who lived in the shadows of the stunningly majestic and beautiful Rockies once said “You know, some days get so busy and intense that I can spend a whole day without seeing the mountains”.  How can this be with the mountains right there in front of me.   The things above, and the kingdom of God are not inaccessible to us in our present.  These are not out of reach.  The Word of God is at our fingertips, the community of faith is in our midst.   God’s precious meal, and his baptismal promises are given to help us an guide us in our present.  The opposite of things above are described later in the chapters.  We could call them things “below”.  The things below are sexual immorality, impurity, greed, evil desires, anger, slander, filthy language.  As a baptized child of God these should not predominate in our life.  It’s like living in the mountains, and never looking up or spending all your time in the basement all the while staying away from “things above”.  The things above, are the things that will help, save, and rescue fallen sinners.  The things above remind us that our life, our present life is hidden with Christ.  Galatians says “I have been crucified with Christ and the life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself for me.  Our present also doesn’t have to be saddled with sins,.   While sin is still part of our lives, through trusting in the resurrected Savior it does note  have to count against us.  1 Corinthians says that if Christ has not been raised,  your faith is futile; you are still in our sins.  The resurrection certainly changes our present.

            The resurrection of Christ, ultimately also changes our future.  Colossians says “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”   Romans 6:5 “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly  also be united in his resurrection.  Now when Christians talk future resurrection we are not just talking about our spirits living or life going on.  We believe that as Christ was physically raised so will we.  The graves in the Hoffman cemetery will one day be beautiful pot holes.   When the apostles went to proclaim this future “physical” resurrection there were some who thought they were crazy.  In Acts 17 Paul encounters a group that says “What is this babbler trying to say”.   In Acts 17 some sneered at such an illogical belief, but still others wanted to hear more about the subject.   To many in the world it seems,  how shall we say “to impossible to be true”, to beyond our human experience, a pie in the sky fruitless hope.  The women that morning, Peter, John, and latter Paul, along with countless witnesses then, and followers since, would say otherwise.  For in the resurrected, and living Savior we have a past that has been redeemed, a present that has purpose, and future that will not end.  Christ is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia.