with Christ. Celebrating the resurrected life.
March 23rd, 2008
Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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