“I Have Seen the Lord!”

Easter, 12 April 2020

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

John 20:1-18 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=264509286)

1

Prayer.

 

For our sister and brother disciples

living South of the equatorial midsection

this Easter news of resurrection must take on a slightly different meaning.

They are headed into winter.

For Jesus, he suffered, died, and rose from the grave.

 

It is fall for them, winter lies ahead, and beyond that comes the prospect of spring.

Resurrection is not only the reality of this fall Easter day

but it becomes for our Southern hemisphere neighbors

the hope that follows winter:

that which is to come.

Resurrection is both now

and will soon be

at some future time.

 

In the American South

spring has sprung in full force.

We see pictures of blossoming cherry trees,

flower beds full of emerging perennials and freshly planted annuals,

and vegetables already planted and staked.

 

For our Dixy sister and brother disciples of Jesus

Easter is the confirmation of resurrection

that is being experienced

in the present.

right here,

right now,

resurrected life is springing up all around us!

Seeds are sprouting.

Hibernation is ending.

Fish are rising.

Flowers are blooming.

Christ the Lord is risen today!

 

For us, resurrection may be intellectually incongruent with reality.

Most find ourselves alone and afraid,

Self-isolated, anxious, board, discouraged, and depressed.

Resurrection promises to lift us up.

Spring calls us out.

But, a detestable virus keeps us locked away like prisoners in our homes.

 

We are one snowstorm,

one apocalyptic blizzard,

one last polar vortex away

from going stir crazy!

 

We know spring.

Yet, the evidence is only slowly starting to come together.

That 80-degree Monday is completely forgotten by the 28-degree and 3 inches of snow Friday.

This may be the day of resurrection,

but don’t put the snow shovels away until the Fourth of July.

 

Resurrection is both now,

– thank you, Jesus! –

and it is slowly emerging with a tepid attempt at seasonal warming.

Let’s not over commit,

less our spring planting be too premature

and we lose everything with a late frost.

Like Lazarus,

he was risen only to die another day.

 

It all is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

Culture, experience, family values, deeply seeded faith’

all are mixed together with our Gospel of Good News:

firsthand eye-witnesses to the fact

that Jesus had suffered,

Jesus had died and was buried three days in his grave,

and now,

Jesus had risen from the dead.

 

When we hear the news

straight from the lips of Mary Magdalene,

“I have seen the Lord!”

what does it mean to you and me,

right here,

right now?

 

  1. Seeing the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ

is a call for each of us to become Christ’s servants in the world.

Heal the sick.

Pray for the dying.

Feed the hungry.

Bind wounds,

cast out demons,

and live lives faithful to God.

 

Minister to the lowly,

the last, the least, and the lost.

Bind the wounds of those who are whipped by the world and left for dead,

Just like Jesus was whipped,

even though he was innocent,

and crucified on the cross between two common criminals.

 

Get your hands dirty for the kingdom’s sake.

Plug your nose and get to washing some stinky feet,

just as Jesus did.

Take special care of the widows and orphans,

gather children with safety and love,

be tender and gentle with those with special needs.

 

Get over ourselves and stop judging others,

Excluding others,

Despising others.

Let us stop objectifying others,

Treating others with disdain, or worse.

 

Get over ourselves and forgive others without exception.

Also, ask for forgiveness for what we have done to others.

Forgiveness is a two-way street.

Ask forgiveness for our own boneheaded behavior.

As Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing,”

so, too, should we allow ourselves

to become His redemptive blood

that takes away the sin of the world.

 

Become the servant of others.

Everyone can do something.

Resurrection means you are needed by someone.

Serve their needs.

 

What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ mean?

 

  1. Seeing the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ

is a call for each of us to give our lives for another,

just as Christ gave his life for you and me.

Temper the ego,

deflate the hubris,

and check the testosterone at the door.

The life of faith,

following Jesus Christ,

starts with dying to self

so that we might rise with the Lord.

 

To be resurrection people,

we must first die to ourselves.

Give money away.

Give it to the poor, Jesus told the rich man.

In fact, give it all away, not just ten percent.

Stop building bigger barns.

Hammer weapons into plows and pruning shears,

throw away every idol,

and work for the benefit of God and neighbor.

 

To be resurrection people is really quite easy:

love God,

love your neighbor,

and behave like you mean it!

Die to self and all selfish desires.

Give your life for the world,

just like Jesus did.

 

What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ mean?

 

  1. Being a witness to the resurrected Lord

is a call to testify to the Good News!

Tell and retell the resurrection story,

that Christ died for our sins

and rose from the dead for our salvation.

This is where other Christians have it all over us vanilla flavored Methodists in spades!

Let new growth spring forth from our evangelical, witnessing roots.

Testify what the Lord has done!

 

Don’t leave it up to the preacher.

Own the story,

share the story,

spread the story

live the story.

 

Be the testimony that changes the world.

Don’t stop testifying to the Good News of Jesus Christ

until you take your final breath.

Then, and only then,

Is it permissible to fall silent,

For your witness will pass as an inheritance to the next generation.

 

If, after hearing the Good News of Christ risen from the dead,

We return to sitting on our hands while keeping our mouths shut,

then we’ve become a fake and a fraud.

We’ve become the problem,

the cause of decline.

When it comes to faith

silence isn’t golden;

silence is death.

 

Followers of Jesus!

Buck up!

Dry those tears!

Stand up!

Kick in the door of Christ’s empty tomb!

Speak out!

Tell the world what you’ve found.

 

The Lord’s mission is accomplished.

The tomb is empty.

There is no corpse here.

Christ is risen from the dead!

Shout it from the mountain tops:

Jesus Christ is Lord over both life and death!

 

Indeed, today we can tell the world

that Jesus Christ reigns victorious over death.

Jesus Christ is Lord of eternal life.

Jesus is God’s gift to you and me,

and the rest of the word.

Tell the world,

“I have seen the Lord!”

Christ the Lord is risen today!

Amen.

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