Pastor's Sermons

Sermon for April 20, 2014 ~ Resurrection of Our Lord

 

Matthew 28:1-10

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

 

These words have been repeated for many centuries. This morning as bells peal and trumpets sound, the faithful gather and have been able to announce … He is risen indeed! It rings across the world.  Where?!  Where?! Some might cry out  I want to see him!  The women at the tomb were told by the angel – Get going to Galilee!  You'll see him there! 

 

The famous songwriter, Gene MacLellan, wrote lyrics about this.  Maybe you remember them: Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water, put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea, take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently, put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee. Gene spent the last years of his life as a prison volunteer.  That's a strange place to find Galilee.

 

The message today is: Jesus has been raised.  Where is he?  Why he's in Galilee of course. Let's see if we can find Galilee…   

 

He has been raised…

 

At dawn on Sunday morning, two women went to the tomb.  I guess the men stayed in bed.  You know as well as I do that when you are discouraged, or depressed – either you can't sleep at all or all you want to do is sleep.  The women went to sit on the bench in the cemetery… and the men pulled blankets over their heads. 

 

The tomb was still and silent.  It was like your special places – a garden, a forest walk, a beach, an altar rail, a graveside … where you remember, where you wish you could turn back the clock, where you wish things were different. Our own Memorial Garden can cause us to pause, to remember and reflect.  Maybe the women hoped that some of the things that Jesus said were true… or that they would somehow "see" what he meant.  They would try to keep Jesus "alive" in memory.    Like all of us who grieve a loss, memories of their loved one flooded them.

 

That is, until the crack of dawn.  The earth quakes and an angel steps into the story with a message. This is no ordinary morning.  An incredible message is delivered and has been repeated ever since… 

 

Where?

 

Soldiers stationed to guard the tomb fainted.  The grieving women were shocked into joy.  Don't be afraid, the angel says – you are going to see the Lord!  They came to a place of death – but that is not where they find Jesus.  He visited but doesn't live there.  He is risen… means that he went through death for us and lives.  Death does not have the last word.  Christ is risen: a sneak preview of things to come.

 

That's still how it works: A messenger comes with a message of Good News.  That's what I get to do this morning! Just when we think we have got life figured out, or we have resigned ourselves to the way it is – along comes someone talking about God, faith, or believing.  The disciples may have already surrendered to what brutality, politics, and death can do.  But this message says that Christ is not contained or captured by anything – not a grave, not a place, not how we think, not even whether we believe or not.  This stirring message challenges us to get up, get moving and get going to Galilee.  That's where we will see Christ.

 

But some effort will be needed to see him.  We have to move.  We have to get out of the cemetery and drag ourselves out of bed.  If we want to see the risen Christ – we have to find Galilee.  Disciples have been there before, that's for sure.

 

Galilee

 

The women are told:  Go back to Galileetell his "brothers" that's where they'll see him.  The women will be insistent:  Come on!  Come on!  Let`s go to Galilee.  He`ll meet us there.  We'll put our hands in the hand of the man from Galilee!  As the two Mary's head off to get the men, running like 5 year olds down a grassy hill at full speed, Jesus appeared to them himself.  Maybe Galilee is more than a place – maybe it is a state of the heart.

 

Matthew begins his story in Galilee where Mary was found to be with child.  Galilee was the where the ministry of Jesus began... on roads and beaches, in towns and homes.  It was where he called disciples, taught the crowds, healed the sick, showed compassion, offered rest, spoke in parables, fed multitudes, blessed children, challenged attitudes, and taught love.  They'll see me in Galilee, the angel said.  Do they want to see Jesus?  They have to find Galilee again.  Do we want to see Jesus?  Let's find it too:  where healing, feeding, teaching and even suffering take place. 

 

It will take some effort to see the one who loves us. I may need to let someone serve me… and then I`ll see him.  When there is welcome for all... we'll see him.  Feed the hungry, help the hurting, seek the lonely, pick people up from the ditch, be a friend to the friendless… and we'll see the Risen Jesus… because then we are in Galilee.  That's where we see him.  I see him in you every week.

 

Life can be hard.  We struggle with weakness and war and endless headlines of trouble and starvation and environmental issues.  We may be tempted to just stay in a quiet place and wish it were not so, or pull the covers over our heads.  But death and discouragement is not the end.  The story is charged with life that Jesus meets us in acts of going, doing, living, acting, loving and serving.  We find life by losing it for others.  We gain by giving.  Where two or three are gathered in his name… that's Galilee.

 

We see him here today – that's what Aaron's baptism was about.  Christ is present in promise, with water, with bread and wine, and among us!  The Risen Christ appears in the living and loving and serving of his people.  And one day, somehow, somewhere, he'll take our hand and we'll see his face.  That is what Gene MacLellan discovered.

 

Welcome to Galilee!  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Amen.

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