Christ Appeared - Easter Sunday

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

We celebrate the Risen Christ, recorded in Scripture. Christ lives in our hearts and minds as we discover God’s love in the Word. Join with me in a spirit of prayer.

Living God, with joy we celebrate the presence of your risen Word. Enliven our hearts by your Holy Spirit so that we may proclaim the good news of eternal and abundant life. Fill us with the hope and joy of new beginnings, so that we may share the good news of your life-giving power with all the world; through Christ our Savior, who is  alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and always. Amen. 

THE FIRST SCRIPTURE                 Mark 16:1-11                                      The Resurrection of Jesus

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

The Shorter Ending of Mark

And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.

May the Lord bless this Holy Word to our understanding.

 

A TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN#88     “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High”

 SECOND SCRIPTURE READING    1 Corinthians 15:1-11         The Resurrection of Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

 

THE SERMON           “Christ Appeared”

According to Pastor Andy Stanley, North Point Community  Church in Atlanta , GA:

“The entire Christian faith hinges on one single event: the resurrection. It’s not the Bible; it’s not even Jesus, just in terms of Jesus, the person Jesus. It really is this event: the resurrection.”

Today, we gather with Christians around the world to celebrate this event some 2000 years after the event. The Apostle Paul, told the Christians in Corinth the importance of this event. The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth transformed the world for all time. In Jerusalem, the most important city for Jews in the Roman Empire, an event so rock the world that the ripple effect reaches out and impacts our life in Janesville, WI. This is Good News.

I want you to visualize the significance of what took place on the hill outside the city called Golgatha. On February 27, 1991 Ruth Dillow, received the news that her son, Pvt. First Class Clayton Carpenter serving in Kuwait during Desert Storm stepped on a land mine and died in combat. Ruth later wrote,

"I can’t begin to describe my grief & shock. It was almost more than I could bear. For 3 days I wept. For 3 days I expressed anger and loss. For 3 days people tried to comfort me, to no avail because the loss was too great."

Three days Ruth experienced the grief of the death of her son. Like the women who came to the tomb on that first Easter morning, they expected to see the body of one they loved draped in grave cloths. In their grief, they stumbled in the early morning hours saddened by the events of the last three days. They prayed. They cried. They made plans for the final burial. They went to the tomb wondering who would roll away the stone.

The women went to the tomb, expecting find Jesus’ body, but the tomb was empty. They were stunned. The stone was already rolled away. I envision that they tentatively approached the tomb. Reticently, they peered in not sure what they would see. I’m sure they did not expect the tomb to be empty. They were surprised. God had intervened. 

The telephone rang. Ruth answered the phone, not sure what to expect. The voice on the other end said, "Mom, it’s me. I’m alive." Ruth Dillow said, "I couldn’t believe it at first. But then I recognized his voice, & he really was alive."

Imagine the joy! Ruth describes the events, "I laughed, I cried, I felt like turning cartwheels, because my son whom I had thought was dead, was really alive. I’m sure none of you can even begin to understand how I felt."

www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/easter--what-a-difference-melvin-newland-sermon-on-easter-resurrection-33346.asp

We cannot begin to understand this life changing joy, unless, you’ve experienced God’s intervention in your life. Jesus transforms our life. Jesus takes the deadness of our sin and restores us to life. Jesus fulfilled the promises of God so that we might live differently. Christ died for our sins. He was raised on the third day according to the Scripture.  The events of Easter morning, were told by the women. Cephas (aka Peter) verified it by going to the empty tomb. Then Jesus appeared to “The Twelve” the group of disciples. If others needed more proof, Jesus appeared to more than 500 believers.

Years later, Jesus appeared on the road to Damascus to Saul, a persecutor of the Church. This Pharisee came to Damascus to arrest these believers, bring them back to Jerusalem to stand trial these followers of the Christian Way could be stoned. Jesus transformed his life and sent him out as the Apostle Paul to spread the Good News to the Gentiles.

For 2 millennia, Jesus continues to meet unbelievers where they are. He encounters them in surprising ways. Jesus appears to them, so they may come to understand the transforming love of God. He comes to set us free from our sin. He comes so that we live life differently. Jesus gives us a preview of what every Christian will experience when our time on earth comes to a close. We can live this life with great hope. Jesus removes the fear of death as we await our eternal life in Christ’s presence.

What a difference the resurrection makes! The resurrection of Jesus transforms our life. We live differently when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Even as we witness the conflict around the world, Christians trust the Lord and find peace. When Christians experience disease with no cure, we wait up the Lord for comfort and Christ’s constant presence on our final journey. If we experience loneliness, we seek the Lord and the community of faith. We find hope, joy, peace, and love. Christ’s resurrection gives us a reason for living each day.

If we don’t believe in the resurrection, death becomes final and filled with hopelessness. We mourn and know an emptiness that can never be filled. Since, Christ’s resurrection we hold on to the promise of Scripture, because Jesus lives, we will live with the Lord our God for all eternity.

On this Easter morning, remember that Jesus rose from the dead to transform the world. He personally appeared to you so that you may live differently. Jesus appeared and transformed how we live in this world in preparation for eternity. TGBTG. Amen.

  November 2017  
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