Easter at Zion: “I Have Seen the Lord!”

Easter, 20 April 2014

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

East Rochester and West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches

(Homily for West Walworth: Zion UMC)

 

John 20:1-18

http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=264509286

 

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.

I can tell it simply by reading the rich liturgies and sermons

from pastors in Australia, South America, and southern Africa. 

They are headed into winter.

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

It is fall, 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 for after 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.

The internet is full of pictures of blossoming cherry trees,

flower beds full of emerging perennials and freshly planted annuals,

and vegetables already planted and staked.

Snow birds and vacationers are returning

with tales of warm breezes and sunny beaches.

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 is intellectually incongruent with reality.

We are one more snow storm,

one more apocalyptic blizzard,

one last polar vortex away

from going stir crazy!

We know it’s spring

but the evidence is only slowly starting to come together.

That 80 degree Monday is completely forgotten by the 28 degree Tuesday.

This may be the day of resurrection,

but don’t put the snow shovels away just yet.

Resurrection is both now,

- thank you, Jesus! -

and it is slowly emerging with a tepid attempt at environmental 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:

first hand eye-witnesses to the fact

that Jesus had suffered,

Jesus had died and was buried,

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?

 

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,

just as Jesus was whipped like the guilty,

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 forgive others without exception.

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

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.

 

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 have to die to ourselves first.

Give money away.

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

In fact, give it all away.

Stop building bigger barns.

Turn 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 act like you mean it!

Die to self

and give your life for the world,

just like Jesus did.

 

Being a witness to the resurrected Lord

is also a call to

testify to the Good News,

that is,

tell and retell the resurrection story,

that Christ died for our sins

and rose from the dead for our salvation.

This is where our Baptist sisters and brothers have it over us Methodists in spades!

Testify what the Lord has done!

Don’t leave it up to the preacher.

Own the story,

share the story,

and spread the story.

Be the testimony that changes the world.

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

until you take your final breath.

Then, it’s okay.

 

If we return to our homes today

after hearing the Good News of Christ risen from the dead

and sit 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!

Speak out!

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 is Lord over eternal life,

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.