It is good to say. They are good words. They are true.
A little further … If someone then asked you, WHY do you believe that Jesus died for your sin and rose from the dead, you might say what a lot of people say, whether they are little children or long-term mature church people, “because that is what the Bible says”, or “that is what my parents said”, or “that is just what Christians believe”.
This would not be wrong belief. I hear these kind of responses to the ‘why’ of God and Easter and Jesus all the time. Even little kids at Redeemer say these kind of words about why they believe in God.
Sometimes the words come across a ‘code’, or as a kind of formula or a standard textbook response that lack conviction, meaning, real understanding of what God did this day. When pushed they come up a bit empty.
Sometime our responses on why we are Christians, why we ae here, why we are Lutherans, why we believe in God seem a bit shallow or untethered to the realness and humanness and reality of what we just heard from John and what we hear from Paul now.
My question is, is there something more immediate, central, crucial to tether your faith to about this Easter God that your parents and your family may have and the Word of God does point you to? I think so.
I am wondering if we as a long-term Christians can tether ourselves to things other than this event, this man and this movement that was began and still continues.
We can tether our faith to some formula we heard from our parents or we experienced in Sunday School or at school or somewhere and miss the heart of the faith – this evet achieved by this man that started a movement that is still moving in the world.
Can I suggest that we can’t afford our heart to be tethered to anything less than this Easter event, this Easter Saviour and this movement we are a part of.
The future of our children and their children and this weary planet’s future depend on this event, this man and this movement we have been baptised into.
Some people in every place need to be tethered to this resurrection day and this resurrected Saviour who going about his mission or resurrecting dead sinners every day.
And can I say that each person; each baptize- into-this-Jesus person is immediately involved in this task unfinished. Each of us is called to live in this event achieved by this man, this God and this movement he began this day.
You may want to rest on a formula, a textbook response, a family history, a past memory and sort of ‘keep Easter lite’, as if this event and the man who did it and his people who have moved and lived in it do not actually change you or anything else very much.
But that would not be Paul’s view or any of the Twelve’s view or many a martyr’s view. This event is not a passing fad, a single moment that is now long past, a merely human event, an event that has little impact on now. Not according to those who saw it heard and then heard those who saw and heard it all happen and wrote it down for us hear it.
Something happened. An event occurred in human history. There is something about what happened to Mary and the others and the ever-growing first community who witnessed these events, and then those who heard the first-hand eye-witness accounts from them that literally changed a lot of people and changed whole communities and even countries.
This Easter day starts it all. Before there even was a Bible, this day happened, and this event started a movement that created a whole new way, a whole new community whose shoulders we stand upon.
My question this Easter is, have we forgotten the event that created the movement and settled for the textbook words only? The words are crucial but they are tethered to a real event, a real person and a real movement of people.
If we don’t tether our heart of faith to this heart of the Christian faith: this event, this man who achieved it for us and this movement that he began and has sustained, our faith will not stand up to scrutiny, to pressure to the temptations of the easier road most travelled.
Our children’s faith will be squashed by the world’s resistance and argument and dismissal. Our mission will dissolve. Our church will lack vision, movement, and most of all love. We will not be able love like he loves.
In this post-covid world now talking war and threat and unsure future, we cannot settle for the text book wording without the movement living.
Today is not about giving only an intellectual agreement to some stuff your parents said or your friends said, or you read in the Bible, it is about recognizing this Jesus and this event and this movement to which he has called us.
Today is all about a person who did something – the risen Jesus blazing a new light in the gloomy dawn light that becomes clearer by the minute as the same Jesus who was truly dead was now truly alive in their presence…. and they were changed.
For Paul, this event is THE source, the central thing that started a movement of transformed people. This Easter is not merely some words on a page but a movement in the heart.
Is that what it actually is for you?
Here’s what it meant for Paul – EVERYTHING.
I know, many in our community and country would gladly agree that we Christians are to be most pitied. We are either needing some kind of emotional crutch; a made-up story to feel good about ourselves and survive this brutal life of suffering, or we are a little bit crazy; prone to conspiracy theories and the like, or we are just gullible; easily led and unable to tell truth from fiction – with truth being human intellect and technology, and fiction being faith in anything more than those.
But friends, since this first resurrection from the dead event, there has been a never-ending movement of people transformed and connected together by it. Those who are centred on and live in this event of this Saviour and sign up to the movement have been instruments of forgiveness, love, hope, hard work, serving, giving, praying and bearing witness to the new reality that death is in fact not the end, life in the peace and the power of a creator God is possible now and will one day be the end of this planet as it is renewed to be perfect true and a delight to live in!
On this day, is your faith and life tethered to this movement? Are you part of this movement or have you only some text book words to say that can brushed aside for lack of conviction?
Friends, this Easter, we are living in times that give us an opportunity to tether ourselves to this event, this man, this cross, this corpse, this movement called the Christian community who proclaim the empty tomb for all.
We cannot simply settle for a settled easy religious connection based on a textbook. We need the Spirit to bring the textbook alive in us for others.
And he does today! Jesus is alive. The first human being to enter death and lead a victory procession out of the ground freeing all the captives, is here.
If you are not tethered to this day, this Jesus, the resurrected man who has raised you from the dead in your baptism and called you to tether your children and your children’s, children’s faith and your associated and acquaintances to this day, this event, there will be little movement. We will be so much less than we need to be at this opportune time.
So, WHY do you believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose form the dead and what does this mean to you today?
I believe in God because Jesus did this at that time, and he did it for me and can do it for you now.
The foundation of our faith is a person who did and said something that transformed people into a movement that transforms a world. He still is.
We still are, as we are tethered to this event, this man, this bible that powers this movement because this will make us move into the lives of our children and their children and our community in need of this man and this event and this movement of love and forgiveness that transforms everything.
He is risen!
… he knows.
They will fall asleep at the wheel. They will experience a very dark night of the soul; that night when you cannot sleep because you know you have rejected the love of a friend and is has cost that person dearly and you nothing. Like Peter cut to the core as the suffering Jesus eyeballs him from across the dim courtyard, this night we know we have betrayed God …
But this Saviour God will do his saving. It is what we celebrate these days. He will have to, mind you, because they could not do it, and neither can we.
He will forge on into what is coming until the very last flicker of light and life is snuffed out … for a while.
Here is who he is and what he doing in the darkness:
The public spectacle is coming in these three days.
Acknowledge your darkness tonight. Even enter into it. But know that he is ahead of you in it and drawing you through it. That is what he did for these close friends and that is what he doing again these three days.
And because he did it, we have it. We have it all. The new Passover is here. Death passes us over tonight by the blood of the Lamb on our hearts.
We have a rock-solid covenant relationship of love signed by this Jesus in his own blood that exists and triumphs in any of our darkness.
We walk with the Light of the World in all our darkness however dark things may become. He stays lit and still calls us to be his light for others, the same.
That is what these days, these three days make the difference for all of our days.
Powers are disarming. Authorities are submitting. The spectacle of freedom and hope begins again as the greatest triumph that won the world is proclaimed again.
Centre your heart on these days, this man and this movement he has begun.
It is how we can keep on truly living.