April 17, 2022
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
| Centering Prayer |
For two thousand years
Baptized followers of Jesus Christ
Have gathered weekly for the purpose of worship.
Every Sunday is Easter Sunday, we believe.
Therefore, we gather
To praise God
By proclamation of the Word, Celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and music and song.
We thank God through prayer,
For all we’ve been given.
We thank God
For the presence, power, direction, and loving support of the Holy Spirit. We thank God
For the promise of the future
As made in sacred covenants
And the words of Jesus.
This is what we do
Every time we gather for worship.
Today is the first of firsts,
The foremost of all Sundays,
The pinnacle of all mountaintop Sabbath days.
Today is Easter,
(Follow me, here, if you can)
The first Sunday
Following the first Full Moon
Following the Vernal Equinox,
When the sun is directly over the equator and the night and day stand in perfect balance
(March 20th every year).
We celebrate this day
The profound significance
Of the events that took place
On this sacred anniversary.
The events of this date are absolutely fundamental
To our Christian faith and experience.
Without the resurrection,
Jesus would have been
Relegated to a small footnote
In the history of the world.
He would have become
Just another nameless,
Whom Rome squashed like a bug
In its brutal occupation of Israel.
The Good News of this day is the fact
that Jesus Christ rose from the dead!
The women found an empty tomb.
They were greeted by two messengers
Who witness to them that his promise had come true:
On the third day after his death,
Jesus promised that he would rise from the dead.
And he did.
Our Lord’s resurrection has confirmed Jesus Christ as the essential revelation
Upon which all faith is built.
This supernatural event,
Accomplished by divine design,
Has shifted the focus of spirituality
And has revealed the extravagant grace and love of God.
The salvation history of humankind fundamentally changed.
His resurrection gave birth to the Church;
50 plus generations of disciples
Who have made Jesus Christ the central experience
Of our faith journey.
We have been chosen by God,
And have accepted the invitation,
To be disciples of Jesus.
We devote ourselves to learn all we can
About Jesus and his life.
We attempt to pattern our life after his.
We hang on every detail,
of every word he spoke.
Righteousness is no longer defined
By strict adherence to the Law,
Rather, for the Christian,
Righteousness is counted
Only in our devotion and faith in Jesus Christ.
Righteousness has become for us
Living our lives the way
We believe Christ would have us live.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ
Has confirmed the grace of God
And His love for us.
We have come to see through the lens of hindsight
That His passion and death
Won for us forgiveness of sins.
Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
God is reconciled with creation.
God is reconciled with you and me.
All those former sins have been washed away, and
Behold, God is making all things new.
We have come to know
That His resurrection has won for the human race
The gift of eternal life.
Eternal life is ours to accept.
The gift of forgiveness and eternal life is outrageously extravagant.
These gifts of grace are a sign of how deeply
And how passionately
God loves us,
And wants the best for us.
The resurrection has made God’s love for humankind personal.
God doesn’t just deliver a chosen race or nation.
God has chosen you,
Thought of you,
Loved you so much that He sent you His Son,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
We are not born to toil, suffer, and die.
We are born to give glory to God!
The world is transformed when we live as forgiven people,
Saved by grace,
Loving God, and loving neighbors.
We are given life that we might live eternally in God’s new creation.
Death no longer is the final period at the conclusion of the Book of Life;
Rather, death has become the doorway
Through which we pass
On our journey into perfected communion with God.
It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that opened the door.
Bishop William Willimon makes this observation:
“Look at all God has gone through
down through the ages
to save us,
Look at all Jesus went through just this past week.
Shall death defeat the purposes of such an extravagantly [loving,] life-giving God?
I think not.”
(William H. Willimon, Pulpit Resources, April 11, 2004)
Today, we join the almighty chorus,
Of billions of Christians around the globe,
Proclaiming the Good News of this day;
That Jesus Christ rose from the dead!
And so will you.
Sing to the glories of God’s grace!
Proclaim the wonders of God’s love!
Know that it is God who saved you!
Shout it from the mountain top.
Make this, your witness, heard loud and clear.
Thanks be to God.