Sunday, April 20, 2014

Update! Sermon for 4/20/2014, The Resurrection of Our Lord: Running the Race of Resurrection

I added a video from Berklee College of Music that goes well into my own thought processes on this sermon called "I Don't Have a Song For That". Christ The King's own Joe Barnard helped produce this amazing video.

This was Pastor Mark's sermon at Christ the King Lutheran Church on April 20, 2014. 

Gospel: Matthew 28:1–10
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.  2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.  5But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.  7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you."  8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.  10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
Just over a year ago, I took the train into Boston, met my cousin’s wife, and watched the Boston Marathon, about a half-mile from the finish line. After we cheered on my cousin, we navigated masses of humanity to meet him. After enjoying the beautiful day, the festive and encouraging atmosphere, and the thrill of watching the athletes strive for the finish line, I was heading home on the train to Stoughton, when I started getting the text messages asking if I was ok.

At that point, the 2013 Boston Marathon, was over much earlier than it should have been, and while all of us anxiously waited for information about what happened and how bad things were, I kept thinking about how just hours earlier, everything was different. I remember walking around, Boston, thinking about what an undertaking the Marathon was, and feeling good about being present and sharing in a spirit of cooperation and good will with so many other people. In the aftermath, as the goodness of the day was shattered, I kept thinking about how such a thing that was so good would never be the same.

On that beautiful day, last year, I wasn’t alone in that feeling of loss and confusion, trying to comprehend how everything could change, so quickly from peace and good will, to violent tragedy. This whole area of the country was shocked that day, and as a collective, we shared in this sick feeling, one that many of us, if not all of us, have experienced in much more individual ways.

That sense of shock, is what all of creation experienced about 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ, who embodied the spirit of all those marathon participants and spectators, was crucified. In fact, the shattering of that peace was so great, the earth shook and the sky went dark, as signs that things would never be the same.

Today though, is Easter Sunday, and we know that the tomb is empty, we know that Christ has been raised. We know that sin and death do not have the final answer, life and resurrection do.

But on this glorious morning, we are reminded that resurrection, isn’t starting over. While life goes on, the past remains, all of it: the wonderful memories, the painful reminders, and the deep absences of those who have died. Easter, and the resurrection it promises doesn’t just magically gloss over everything and make it all ok.

Rather, resurrection is about going forward, being made new, in the promise that there will be new, wonderful memories ahead, and going forward having learned from the lessons of the past. Most of all, resurrection is being sure in the promise that while we can never replace those who have died, the love of Christ that we have shared with them is eternal, and will sustain and hold us who are living, and those who have died.

Tomorrow, just like they have for over 100 years, people will gather to run the Boston Marathon, and many more will gather to cheer them on. While the event will go on, it will be different this year. The grief, pain, and losses have not disappeared, and there will be very real reminders of all that has occurred. Yet the Marathon, will be resurrected, and difficult as it may be, the race will be run, and the spirit that it embodies will be alive, well, and stronger than ever. Tomorrow, the love that has helped so many to endure, care for, heal, and grow, will make a clear witness against sin and the destruction it brings.

Every day, as Christians, we live as a resurrected people, an Easter people, raised in, with, and through Christ’s resurrection to new and eternal life. And we have been raised to this new life for a purpose, so that through us, God may carry-on the mission of Christ. The mission of sharing peace, justice, hope, and love with all people, no matter what. The mission of offering ourselves to the world, just as Christ offered himself. The mission of staring down the sin that would attempt to tear us apart, with the life of the one who unites us all, Jesus Christ.

This morning, on this Easter Sunday, we are gathered not to celebrate a happy ending, but to be raised in the eternal resurrection of Christ, so that together, we may grow in his love, and continue to run the race that is before us, both now and forever.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,


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