Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Welcome to worship this day for Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023! It is great that you can join in on the festivities!
The bulletin for this service can be found here. While this service might look slightly different, the bulletin will still have all that you need with the order and words of worship, the hymn numbers out of the ELW, the page numbers for the liturgy out of the Hymnal Supplement (1991) book, and the full sermon. And as always all the words that you need to know will be on your screen and the sermon is included on this page below the worship video.
For an enhanced worship experience online, you may have a lit candle for most of the service up until after the sending hymn when the altar candles are extinguished. You can also join in on communion by having something small to eat and drink, ready to consume at the appropriate time as directed during worship.
May God’s resurrecting love and grace bless you and keep you, now and always!
Almighty God, on this day of resurrection may the stones in front of our hearts be rolled away and your truth and grace be revealed as with us, through Jesus Christ, our risen Saviour and Lord. Amen.
A few weeks ago I was telling you (those who were listening at least) how I don’t really frequent social media anymore. After that day, I realised that isn’t exactly true, as I often would have TikTok running in the background while I’m doing other things. I don’t post anything on there of course, but I do scroll through it every now and then as sometimes there are some interesting or really funny videos on there.
One such interesting thing that caught my attention the other day was this young guy, whom I’ve never seen on the app before, talking about hidden gems where you can eat. I’ve seen a few of these, where a food reviewer or something would talk about a good but struggling restaurant and recommend it to their viewers, and then the place would blow up. Not literally explode, but their business would boom. Not literally boom, but… ah you get the picture. So I thought this guy would just be one of those. Turns out that he’s local, too. Really local, in fact. The place that he was talking about, actually more like RAVING about, was a small sandwich shop about a minute away from the church. I’m talking this church, by the way, if you didn’t catch that.
Anyway, this kid went on and on about how great this sandwich place is and how everyone needs to try it. He was so excited and had nothing but praise for this place. So sucker that I am, I went to try it this past week and you know what? Daaaang he wasn’t kidding. I’ve had some good sandwiches in my day, and let me tell you that was a good sandwich. 10/10, I’d go again. I recommend.
So that was a good experience. The funny thing is that the TikTok kid wasn’t even a food reviewer, I checked out his page. He just really liked the restaurant and wanted to recommend it to anyone who sees his video. And I guess it worked.
But isn’t that just natural for us? Like how when we try something good, when we have an experience that is exciting or positive, when we encounter something worth sharing, it’s like we can’t help but to share it? Whether it be like that non-reviewer kid on TikTok or someone like me who can’t cook worth a darn but knows what he likes to eat, we just want to tell others the good news that we have.
There is just an excitement of something news worthy, an elation of having witnessed something that you want others to know about, an enthusiasm in having some sort of knowledge that is so big that you can’t help but just shout it out from the rooftops. I know, we’re talking about just a sandwich, but honestly it was gooood.
And that’s the thing about this kind of news that we want to tell others about. We’ll find that not everyone cares. Not everyone will want to hear it. Not everyone will even listen. But we share it anyway because to us, to us it matters. We just have to make sure that our message is the right one. Which in this case, is a pretty darn good sandwich. A little pricey, sure, but mmm-mmm Mylanta.
Which brings me to this Easter story that we get every year… on Easter. This story of an empty tomb, a shocked and bewildered group of Jesus’ followers, a message that Jesus is alive. I mean, that in itself seems to be enough. That in itself is the whole gospel story. That in itself, we’re told, is the foundation of our Christian faith.
Or is it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the resurrection didn’t happen or the tomb wasn’t empty or that the women were lying like how we hear the male disciples accusing them of doing. I’m not saying that Jesus’ body was actually just stolen or the women went to the wrong tomb or that the whole thing was made up. I’m not even saying that Easter Day isn’t the foundation of our faith. What I’m saying is, or perhaps what I’m wondering out loud is, is the message of the resurrection just about the resurrection? Is the good news only about the empty tomb? Is our faith based solely on Jesus being risen?
Well, yeah, obviously. That’s what we’ve learned our whole Christian lives, is it not? It’s what we believe, what we confess, what we claim to be witnesses of. As Paul tells us, if Jesus hadn’t been risen then we who claim his name are the biggest saps that have ever sapped on this side of sap town (not in those exact words, by the way). So yes, Jesus is risen in some mysterious way that we cannot explain. Jesus is alive in ways that we cannot understand. Jesus is present here and now, with the women at the tomb, with the confused male disciples, and throughout all time.
But what I’m saying is that I noticed something else in the message the women was given and told to proclaim. Not only has Jesus been risen, but they will see him. In Galilee. In their midst. In the most common and ordinary places.
Jesus can be seen.
On the road to Emmaus. On the beach cooking some fish. Among friends and enemies alike.
Jesus can be seen in the garden, in the gardeners, in the love and care that we receive from the likely and unlikely places. Jesus can be seen in the confusion of life, in the surprising events throughout time, in the baffling displays of grace and mercy. Jesus can be seen in the healing of pain, the forgiveness of sin, and the endurance of relationship. Jesus can be seen in the joy of connections, the support in community, and the love that we can share collectively as a human race.
Jesus can be seen.
And I think this is the good news that we have this day, yes, Jesus is still risen of course, but what that means for us practically isn’t that we should be able to see Jesus in the flesh, put our fingers in the wounds in his hands and side as gross as that sounds, and physically embrace him and take a hold of his feet and worship him. Rather, what that means for us is that we can see Jesus wherever we go, we can recognise his voice throughout our lives, we can feel his presence among us in our homes, in our communities, anywhere we might gather together. Just not physically but metaphysically. Jesus is with us.
This is the news that we have to share. This is the experience that moves us to tell others. This is what we witness and testify to. That we are not alone, we are not unworthy or without value, we are not forsaken or abandoned but dearly and wholly loved.
As the empty cross, the empty tomb, and the curtain in the temple torn in two tell us, God is not confined in the spaces that we construct. God is not trapped in the boxes that we build. God is not hidden behind the walls that we put up, out of reach, unable to be grasped. Instead, because of the example of forgiven evil that the cross represents, because of the steadfast grace shown to us with an empty tomb, because of the opening out of the holy of holies that was veiled by that previously untorn curtain, it is revealed to us that God is with us, loving us, and redeeming us with a mercy that surpasses all understanding.
So this news of resurrection isn’t just news of a new life. But it is news of a new experience, a new community, a new love that that is tangible, recognisable, and visible as it welcomes us all, lifting us up out of our shame and guilt, and reminding us that we are recreated to be God’s people in the world, where we see, recognise, and proclaim through words and actions and our very lives that Alleluia! Jesus is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
May we continue to see the risen Christ in and around our lives, that we be inspired to serve, to live as God’s anointed people, and to love as we have first been loved. Thanks be to God. Amen.