Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sermon Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016
St Stephen Lutheran Church
The Rev. Maurice C. Frontz III, STS

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The women go to the tomb
to remember and bury the past
and mourn the present,
but when they get there,
they are told that there is a future.

Easter is a day about the future.
We get here and make a big hub-bub
and see our old friends
and revel in the beauty of nature
and then we go back to our lives
full of whatever joys and sorrows,
trials and struggles,
that were there before.
But hopefully, our perspective will have changed on them,
or our attitudes toward them will be re-adjusted,
perhaps gently, perhaps violently.

Coming to Easter worship
doesn’t change the past or the present,
but it fundamentally changes our perspective on them.
We may expect to come to learn a history lesson,
even a good one about faith,
or to get something that we can use for our present,
some sort of advice for the good spiritual or moral life

Instead, we hear a fanfare:
‘Alleluia! Christ is risen!’
Alleluia – Despite all that has happened,
despite all that is happening,
despite all that may happen,
praise God – with a cry,
with a shout of joy!
Christ – Jesus of Nazareth,
who proclaimed to us good news
of God’s faithfulness to his people,
God’s forgiveness of our sins,
God’s victory over all our spiritual enemies.
Is risen – He has gone beyond death,
beyond all that can hurt him,
and now death itself is in the past tense for him;
he is no longer subject to its power.

He now lives in God’s eternal future
in order to make that future sure for us:
a future in which we are with God;
when all sin is forgiven and there will be no more to forgive,
when there will be no more evil to resist,
no more death to die.

The women go to the tomb
to bury and remember the past
and to mourn their present
but when they get there,
they are told that there is a future,
and not just any future,
but God’s future:
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting,
the life of the Spirit which is made possible
by Christ’s resurrection.

So does anything change Easter Sunday?
From one perspective, no:
our life starts again
once we go out that door
and get on with whatever plans we have made for our day.
The same life we left behind when we came through the doors
is there waiting for us:
but perhaps by God’s grace we will have been changed,
our eyes have been opened, our heart stirred,
our lips opened and our ears ringing with
Alleuia! Christ is risen!
Easter is the day when the future which God has prepared
touches the now of our lives
and sets it trembling, vibrating,
ringing with the joyful mirth of God.

Christians go forth from Easter worship rejoicing
that God has assured the future in Jesus Christ.
This is why Christians can be people of joy
who live in confident hope.
We all think that the present is certain
and the future is uncertain,
when in actual fact it is the other way around.
That’s what the women found out at the tomb,
what we find out again and again when we hear the Gospel.
The future is Christ’s resurrection,
life with our Lord.
And so we can live as people of joy in the present,
without anxiety and fear.

Does anything change on Easter Sunday?
Of course not, and absolutely.
For you have come,
and because you have come,
you have heard something that you never expected;
the news of a future that can change the present.
When you go out that door,
you go back to the life that is yours,
but you go back with a hope that cannot be destroyed,
you go back with a joy that shapes your understanding,
you go back with Jesus.
And when sin, death and evil try to steal that joy (and they will)
remember what you heard
and make the cry your own:

Alleluia! Christ is risen!