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Easter Matters

April 24th 2011 by Joel Schultz

What if Easter were simply about pretty flowers and wonderful music and eggs and bunnies? Well, then Easter really wouldn't matter! But Easter is about so much more. Read or listen to find out more...

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Easter Sunday – “Easter Matters!” – April 24, 2011 Take a moment and look around. Isn’t the church beautiful? Look at all these Easter lilies! They’re so white and fragrant, what a sight! And how about the music? Wow! Wasn’t it wonderful to be able sing “Alleluia” again? Oh, and, didn’t the organ and the horns and bells and choir sound great this morning as they edified our worship? Personally, I just get goose bumps all over. Easter is such a wonderful event in the life the church. Just take a moment and savor it with me. That’s it. Amen. … (sit for a moment)

Now, what if the sermon had actually ended right now? If it did, I know some of you would be saying, “That’s it? What do you mean, that’s it? You mean to tell me that I got up this early, put on my Sunday best, and came to church for this? What a joke!” Then again, others of you might be saying, “You know, that’s the best sermon I’ve ever heard him preach. It was short and to the point, and now, the best part is that we just might get out of here early! Yes!”

But in all seriousness, my brothers and sisters in Christ, what if that was the end of the sermon? What if that was it? If Easter is only about smelling the lilies and taking in the special emotion of the day, then Easter really doesn’t matter all that much. On the other hand, if Easter is about some profound, eternal truth, then this worship service really matters. How much does Easter matter for you? How much does your celebration of Easter matter for others?

Well, the Apostle Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, because according to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). We couldn’t agree more, right? Jesus died and rose for the sins of the whole world, especially for you. In fact, it’s because Jesus did die and rise for you, that you can be assured that your sins are forgiven and that you do have eternal life.

For you, Jesus allowed Himself to be beaten and flogged, teased and taunted. For you, Jesus allowed a crown of thorns to be thrust on His head. But most important of all, it was for you that Jesus laid down on a fateful Friday, and allowed His hands and feet to be nailed to a wooden cross. Bang. Bang. Bang.

Now, at any time, Jesus could have said, “That’s it! I’ve had enough. No more. I’m out of here!” But for you, FOR YOU, Jesus not only endured the cross, but He died on the cross. And He did it to pay for all of your sins. He was then laid in a tomb. And just when it looked like all was lost, just when it looked like none of the last 3 years had mattered … Just then it happened. Jesus rose from the dead. Alleluia!

St. Peter, in our reading from Acts 10, declared this truth to the crowd in Caesarea saying, “Thye put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day… that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (vs. 39,40,43). Yes, Easter matters…to you…to me!

Sadly, Easter doesn’t matter to many people. For many these events are not even true. But as God’s people, we live by faith. We trust that God’s Word is the truth. Yes, we believe this word of resurrection is the truth and true for us. Our eternal destiny depends on this word of faith, that we “have been raised with Christ” and “when Christ who is [our] life appears, then [we] also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:1, 4). God has given us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That is the great good news of Easter – that is the miracle of Easter!

Now let’s take a turn in the sermon. What will it look like to others because Easter matters to us? When Easter matters to us, will it look like this?.... once the service and the festive music is over, we pretty much leave Easter in the church parking lot and head out to our daily lives…. Maybe Easter continues through a festive meal with family and friends…. But, as fun as that may all be, by about oh, three or four o’clock, life has pretty much returned to normal. And, Easter is over and done with for another year.

If Easter matters, will it look like that? No! When we live as though Easter matters, we put a high priority on being community, on our life together as the body of Christ. We continue to come to God’s house to hear His Word and receive our Lord’s Supper. We continue to be fervent in our daily prayers and devotions. When Easter matters we continue as a church to do good works in our community. We make sure that the mission projects we do each month are generously contributed to. We put a little extra in the collection plate to take care of the needs of our partner missionaries in Guinea West Africa.

When Easter matters we go out of our way to love others regardless of their shortcomings. When Easter matters we look for ways to serve those in need. When Easter matters we go out of our way to speak words of comfort to the neighbor who lost a job, the friend going through a divorce, the friend who is suffering from sickness or disease, the co-worker struggling with the death of a loved one.

When you live your life like Easter matters, people will get curious. Your co-workers and friends, and maybe even your family will say things to you like, “Why are you always spending so much time helping others? Why are you always caring for people? What makes you the way you are?” St. Peter, in his first letter, says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (3:15). Then you can say, “You want to know why I’m different? I’ll tell you the truth. It’s Easter. Easter matters to me and I pray Easter will matter to you.” Amen.

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