Tag: jesus Not Dead

Sing the Rafters – Easter Sunday

SermonEaster 1 2015 slider
Easter Day, April 5th, 2015
Jesus: not Dead
After viewing “an Easter Apology” media file

Colossians 3:1-4
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

I reckon the guy in the video is right. All of us are doing more than just coming to church today. You’re doing more than just sitting in church attending to the family tradition, church tradition or personal taste for Easter Sunday.

We are “rolling the dice, aren’t we? We are taking a punt again; taking a risk by being here – responding to a question, dealing with a doubt, coping with a fear, longing for a hope we can live our life on, testing out a possibility…

I am saying it; Jesus is not dead. He was dead but he is not dead anymore.

You can bank on it being said; like the girl singing the national anthem before bounce down at the Grand

Final, or the world’s most well-known and used song being sung by all as the candles are blown out at the birthday party.
I am saying it. Jesus is not dead. He was dead, but he isn’t now.

So, we have a question to consider today.
This “Not Dead Jesus” stuff. Is it really true? Can I trust my ears? Can I trust the preacher man? Can I trust the Christians around me? Can I trust that account of the first dawn of Easter time?

Now as St Paul says, if this Jesus “not dead” stuff is not true; if Jesus of Nazareth did not rise from the valley of death to the heights of new life, then we Christian people are mere fools – misled, misplaced, misinformed, missing the mark.

If Jesus is not dead now, then we probably are wasting our time here this morning, or worse, harming the world with a lie.

I was talking to a young man earlier this year who was telling me his story of coming to faith. He said that before he met Jesus personally in his Word and through his people, he believed that Christianity was in fact harming the world in the form or oppression and war and prejudice.

This is not a new belief at all. Marx said that “religion in the opiate of the people”. Stalin and many a despotic ruler has tried to wipe our faith in Jesus Christ – even Saul of tarsus tried it for a while. You do have to get rid of him if you want more power.

Yes, if Jesus is dead, like all the good people and gurus of history who got a bad deal, then we would probably do better to find someone with a birthday, bring out a cake, sing the song, blow out the candles and the last person should switch the lights out on the church as we all scatter to the winds – like they did that first Good Friday.

But friends, what of it is true and right and good and now?
Jesus is not dead. He was dead, but he isn’t now.

What if you can trust those first witnesses and those who captured their witness for us? What if you can trust the church’s heart and message across geography and ethnicity and language for 2000 years? What if you can trust this preacher man and people of the Way of Jesus around you?

Imagine the possibilities – a huge billboard with ‘Jesus: Not dead” on it lighting up the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Times Square or Adelaide Oval.

That’s not enough. How about a huge billboard not in any one place a but a global billboard, not made of metal or paper but of living, breathing people who have been buried and resurrected with Jesus awaiting his appearing in glory (Colossians 3:3); carrying the message: “Jesus: not dead”!

The breathing billboard of people are the ones whose lives are now “hidden in Christ” (Colossians 3:3).

They know he was dead. He was not pretending. God was not pulling a shifty and faking it or doing some shape-shifting trick that belongs to science fiction shows. Jesus was human and was dead, dead, dead. The funeral was over, the body in the tomb, the casseroles had all been eaten.

Jesus, the one who said he is “I AM” – the God of all creation; the God who parented and loved an ancient community for generations; he was dead and buried and he knew the pit, he tasted dark death for real.

Death? A complete forsakenness – the divine relationship between Father, Son and Spirit allowed to be killed for a moment. The Father turns his face away from the Son and the Son is alone in shameful repose for 9 hours when the world was truly dark.

But then in the dim pre-dawn light, “Jesus: not dead”: Alive. Later on, he is walking around, speaking, eating, drinking and bringing all their confusion to calm, their fear to courage, their failure and shame to acceptance and hope.
Jesus: not dead – what do you do with a guy like that?

What do YOU do with a guy like that?
I reckon you pay attention to him. Hear what he says. Do what you hear him teaching you about death and life and loving.

When he makes his commitments to you – which are many: openhearted acceptance, inexhaustible forgiveness every time you repent and trust, powered spirit to get his mission done, joy in all sadness and courage in all challenge to burn, you say, “thank you, Jesus!”

When he says that your life is hidden in his and that your life as you know it is a pilgrimage with him to the ultimate life and belonging with all the fellow travellers on this “parade to his glory”, you say, ‘let me get my drum, my trumpet, my guitar, my spoons, my piano accordion and play and sing along!

Let me fall in with the holy community on a mission to pick up any stragglers and search for any “lost ones and frowned upons” (from song, ‘Reaching out’, © words and music: Robin Mann).

Will you join in? Will you gladly fall into his line, his way, his journey with everyone here and a billion others around planet earth today as the beat goes on, the parade marches on in joy?

Will you re-embrace the church’s journey as it moves on to that undiscovered country of the Saviour to whom we all belong?

Just today….. and maybe tomorrow.

Go ahead. Beat your drum, join the song, speak the prayer, love the Word, be the church, celebrate like you’ve got nothing to lose and him to gain because you already have it all in him.

Mary, John, Peter, Andrew, Simon, Silome, Cornelius…

Man, woman, girl, boy, worker, wage earner, shop keeper, butcher, baker, candlestick maker; battler, winner, loser, high or low, pick up your accordion and play because Jesus is not dead. He was dead, but now he is not and you don’t have to be either.
Amen

Remember what he did – Good Friday

HOMILY Easter 1 2015 slider
GOOD FRIDAY 2015 (April 3,)
St Petri

 

Stricken, smitten, afflicted”
After viewing “Stricken, smitten, afflicted’ media clip.
You who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great.
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
‘tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

Friends, what do we do with a guy like this? What do you do with Jesus of Nazareth and this old story we tell every year? When we remember this cross and this blood and these 7 words he speaks from a place or deep pain and God-forsakenness, what do we do with him?

One thing to do is what that song suggested – Friends, this is a day to feel the weight of our fears, our wrongs, our worries, our doubts, our loss, our pains and any unbelief in this Easter event.

It ain’t pretty but it is necessary – so we, with him, get through these to a much better place because of him and what he is doing for us.

We can let ourselves feel the weight because he takes it all as he holds his whole body weight on iron and wood in pain. By this cross he calls out to everyone who looks long enough and deeply enough into his pain that his death is the end of your death.

So, on Good Friday there is no room for denying any of this. There is little room for falsehood or blaming of everything and everyone else for our evil – or denying evil and loss and the doubts, fears and temptation to forget about him bring into play. Because of a guy like this there does not need to be.

If you ever have any doubt that Evil exists as more than a mere idea; If you ever stop by this cross long enough and let it in; grasp its evil nature, destructive power, sense the goal of the Evil One and the OldAdam within us, then doubt no more as you hear and see this bloodied man on that terrible cross. This is Evil’s goal; Evil’s final destination for all of us – if Evil had its own way, or course.

From some out of control military unit or individual who let that rocket go into flight MH 17, to such a tragic mental illness bred loss of so many in the beautiful but now deathly French Alps, to the any self-loving dictator who oppresses the poor in the lust for power, to any hurtful words we find ourselves inflicting on others, we know evil and we are a part of it. We both are damaged by it and do some damage ourselves.

There are bad things that happen to innocent people and there are bad things done by people doing wrong.

We experience both and are part of both – either as people receiving or doing.

But Evil is not the last word today. The brokenness of humanity, the pain we suffer, the wrongs we endure and the self-centred words and actions we inflict are undone today.

The hands that gave us life, flung stars into space – are the same hands that to cruel nails now surrender to death – for the life of the world.

So mark this sacrificial point in time – Good Friday. That’s what we do with a guy like this.

See who bears our pain, our dirt, our shame, our despair, our violence, hatred and this human arrogance with which we live – the arrogance that replaces this Divine man of love with lots of other loves.

Who bears all of this and brings in a new story, a new life, a new future, a last word of life for us? It is him – the Lord’s man appointed for this death, this cross, this blood this God-forsakenness.
And he is innocent. He did have not do any of it. He did not fall prey to any of Evil’s traps as we are want to do.

This human and divine being thunders in a whispering declaration – we will hear it soon.
“It is finished”. We have reached the end of ourselves and all we hear and see is him and his words – It is finished.

“But it is here that we have a firm foundation” sings the song writer.
Here is the “refuge of the lost”.

Friend, can your hear for real that he has entered our darkness and his light has broken through and there is a river of forgiveness, renewal, resurrection flowing from him to all the sinners who receive his cross and his loss and his love?
This is our claim today.

“Christ is the Rock of our freedom”
“His is the name on which we boast”.

Go ahead and boast today – Good Friday – not in us but in him.

He is the Lamb of God, for sinners wounded, sacrifice to cancel my guilt and our world’s sorrow!

They slaughtered him and his blood flowed freely for all the sinners who ever felt the weight of their shame.

Sense yourself being un-weighted; freed again today.

He is taking the weight and the pain off you.
He is drawing you into his pain so you can lose yours.
He is inviting you into his death so you don’t have one.

What do you do with a guy like this?

Remember him and remember what he has done and recognise what he is still doing.

Friend, whoever you are and wherever you are, sense your eyes being lifted to both view the bloodied man on the cross and the white light man out of the tomb.

As the song writer says, “You will never be confounded” as you build your life on the hope he freely gives today.

Pin your ears back – Maundy Thursday

HomilyEaster 1 2015 slider
Maundy Thursday Night
Thursday April 2, 2015. St Petri

Tonight is a night to pin your ears back – not in anger like a lion about to attack its prey, but more like a big beefy Rugby Union front rower who tapes back his ears for the oncoming onslaught of the scrum.

Like they do in Rugby, heads will clash tonight. It is time to brace one’s self for the impact…

This will happen as the sacred meal is shared for the last time in that upper room. Then the tough stuff will happen after the meal out there in the darkness of night in the nearby olive grove.

They must have been able to sense something as the meal went on. There must have been some dark foreboding when Jesus radically altered the well-worn order of the ancient meal and called it “my blood” and “my body given for you”.

Like the Twelve, I don’t think I know what to do with this King who will voluntarily subject himself to this tough stuff either. What do you do with a guy like that? Jesus did say this would happen, but did anyone really believe him?

The “dark garden of no delight” will be entered by the troubled man with his sleepy few.

The blood sweat of pure anguish will fall to the ground from him. He will cry out for a last minute reprieve from all that is about to come his way.

And yet he will then commend his very being into the hands of his heavenly Father like an ANZAC about to go over the parapet to certain death, like a woman on the operating table surrendering to the medicos for the risky operation, like a Year 12 student sitting ready to sit the exam that will shape his future.

Surprisingly, there will be very little said by the Saviour of the world after his call for relief. There will be total submission to the will of him who loves the world and the mission he is about to enact through this tough stuff.

Those who have most to lose will turn up in force to laud it over Jesus.

The signal for the injustice and violence to be inflicted will be the clash of heads between teacher and disciple in the betraying kiss in the garden.

Peter will start acting out in pure fear as he draws a sword and on pure instinct, chops off that Roman ear. He does not know what else to do when confronted by the reality of Jesus’ own words about all of this.

“He was led like a Lamb to the Slaughter” – silent……

Tonight is the time to pin our ears back and face the onslaught – not scatter. It is our onslaught. Evil raged at him, and the Evil was ours. Evil still rages at those whose life is hidden in him in baptism.

Evil takes no prisoners and is no respecter of status or intelligence or moral purity. We will soon see the intent of Evil and Evil one – a dead man on a shameful cross.

But because of this voluntary descent into the pit, and what he will achieve for his much loved world, Evil will respect him. It will have to respect him, because by what he is about to do for us who have no chance of life and love and victory over death without this man, Evil will be undone.

Our own aging, dying, hurting, sinning, hating, betraying, loss and suffering will be struck a fatal blow because he will take all the blows and became a fatality for us.

Someone had to do this. We could not achieve this with our reason or intelligence or science or philosophy or fame, fortune or fun. Someone had to go the bottom of the heap, drink the dregs of death; take the full weight of the scrum of demons for us.

He did. He still does.

Tonight is the beginning of that gruesome and deadly force of Evil to be unleashed on this innocent man.

Yet, tonight is the beginning of the end for evil, the evil one and the death he loves to entangle the living in.

So, friend in Christ, pin your ears back. Brace yourselves for the onslaught.

What do we do with a guy like this? Well, there is no need to scatter. No need to turn away.

He is here in his body and blood for life and forgiveness like he promised to be for all the betrayers, fighters and runners – you and me.

As he did when it all began in the garden, commend yourself, your hopes, your dreams, your worries, your questions, your fears, your challenges, your struggles – into this divine man’s hands. They have been pierced and they have been glorified. They embrace you in these days.

He will win the victory and your life will remain in-tact. When the dawn comes, we will discover again that he did enough. We will know in our heads and hearts that our lives are truly hidden in him.

Your joy will be complete as this loving man takes it all, defeats it all and rises above it all and invites you to live in him and in his community – free and true and full of the same kind of hopeful, self-giving love for all.
Amen