Easter Message

Call to Worship; Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Tithe and Offering Prayer: Father in Heaven, today we commit to walk in the Lord as living sacrifices, as our offering to you. By giving our whole being to you and Your creation. We will offer ourselves to build others up during this pandemic, and be a force for good. Lights shining in a world groping in the dark to find you. Amen!

Message Scripture; Mark 16:1-4 “The Door is Open”

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.

Message; Rock Removed, Door Open

Even though it may not feel like it in the middle of our seclusion and quarantine, you and I are witnesses to a new beginning happening now. This rebirth is a masterpiece of a moment in time, regardless of our personal worries. Easter, reflects our most sacred day of the year, and it marks a new beginning for our little congregation on the corner of 25th and Jefferson. Today we are not meeting for our traditional Sunrise service in the Park, or having our sacred service in our Sanctuary, which for us is God’s Livingroom. Indeed, this Easter marks a point of departure of our old ways of doing things, based on our traditions and habits from times past.

From Our Palm Sunday pageant parade, expressing our joy for God in greater and greater zeal, added robust with expressions of Hosannas in the Highest with each lap accomplished around inside our Sanctuary, also known as Our Familyroom. This delight changes from joy into our solemn reflections of Good Friday with the crucifixion and the Passion of our God for you and me, and then our return to jubilant recognition to God’s resurrection, and our redemption. Our joy expressed and cresting with Sunrise, and High Church Service of Easter each year.

You and I have always observed these things together as family in purpose, a household in God. Yes, Passion Week, Our Passover, is different this year! Suspended, due to pandemic concern and respect for other people. So, what is so joyful about what is happening?

As uplifting and comforting as our services have been for us in the past, their suspension for this contagion cannot separate us from God or each other. You and I have a chance move beyond the form & style issues that consumed the People of God in Jesus’ time, and the doctrine & scriptural debates that have occupied Christians for two thousand years. I’m not saying that all of that stuff is wrong, it’s just that maybe this year we have a chance to look deep inside ourselves in order to better contemplate outward. Instead of being sidetracked in our reverence and reflections by external distractions. This year you and I have chance for a renewed reality in our relations with God.

We have always had the Lord available to us in our faith and mind and soul, and Jesus (God in the flesh) tells us that God has actually lived among man physically. We are connected to Him, as we have reminded each other as a church family each Sunday, especially this Sunday.

This Easter, life has given us the opportunity to remember to carry each other spiritually, with humility, hope, faith, trust, and love deep in our hearts, in the core of our separation and isolation. Reminding us of the beautiful and important memories of times past, and committing our hopes to new experiences destined for our future. It is essential for each of us to stay spiritually connected to our Lord, and to each!

Due to the quarantine of the moment, we may very well begin to feel as lonely as an island in a sea of, hoarding of stuff, uncertainty, and fear. In our loneliness, we might begin to imagine what it must be like alone in a tomb of despair and gloom. But don’t.

This is the time for us to turn the corner of sadness and isolation by remembering what God has instructed us in scripture time and again. The Lord never closes off the doors in your life. My thought is that sometimes our direction is so flawed either individually or as a people, that the Lord provides opportunities for our reflection before He indeed opens the doors of our possibilities.

From our Message Reading in Mark 16:1-4, when Mary and others came to the Tomb expecting to see the Lord there, but the rock was rolled away. Expressing the quintessential fact that God can’t be restrained. He cannot be tied to a location (our Church building), or formed and relegated by our conceptions of who He is. For it is folly to try and impose our will on the great “I Am” of history.

Genesis 3:13-14

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the people of Israel. Suppose I say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ And suppose they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, I am who I am. Here is what you must say to the Israelites. Tell them, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”

In other words;

I Am who I will be

I Will be who I Am

I will be Who I will be

I Am Who I Am

I Am What I Am

No this is not a Doctor Seuss search for Ham and Eggs, but a fact in reality, and I start to feel like a child when I begin to contemplate just Who and What our Lord really is! Just as Moses and every person who has had an encounter with the Living Lord of creation, must have felt.

We lose sight of the Lord, and of our own very natures as human beings when we paint God into a corner (pandemic or not). And we do this sometimes without even knowing we are doing it, as if sleepwalking through our faithwalk. Even when we are sincere in our faith, from time to time, God provides opportunities to wake us up.

Maybe that is what is happening to us right now. Perhaps, we have been so focused in on just ourselves as a society (the me society), that maybe God is saying, there is a bigger world out there with people who need warmth, caring, sharing, and prayer from us. If so, we are not alone in making this error. God intervened in the first years of the Church when it seemed like the Disciples of Christ were content with looking inward, or didn’t know any better, or perhaps didn’t think about looking outward and sharing the Good News with the world.

From Acts 8, the early church was confined initially to the temple until events (God) scattered the early Church and forced them to hit the road beyond Jerusalem.

19 Some believers had been scattered by the suffering that unbelievers had caused them. They were scattered after Stephen was killed. Those believers traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. But they spread the word only among Jews. 20 Some believers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch. There they began to speak to Greeks also. They told them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s power was with them. Large numbers of people believed and turned to the Lord.

His word can’t be restrained! Without even realizing, some of the early Church thought that God only wanted to have a relationship with them, the followers of Jesus. It took leaving the Temple, hitting the road, sharing the Gospel, then seeing the positive response from strangers for it to sink in. God wants a relationship with all of His creation, and much of this dark hurting world is waiting to hear the good news from Christians like them back then, and us right now.

Yes, this was the beginning of the Christian Church as we know it today, with the early believers being guided by the Good Shepherd to take His word out into the world. And they were diligent! Because of the willingness of the followers of Jesus to obey back then, Gentiles like me have been extended the invitation to join God’s family today. And each generation from that time has had a decision to make. Do we look inward into our faith community, our Church, or do we look outward? To be light in the darkness, and hope in times of fear.

Those churches, and individuals that are channel locked into looking inward, are destined to die out, on the vine. They deserve to, plain and simple. What use do they serve God, or the creation, when they only want to horde what the Lord has given to themselves. (We have seen enough of hoarding!) If the first century Christians had been hoarders of the Lord’s word, God’s family, would have either died out or occurred as a backwater cult, unrecognizable to the Disciples of Crist.

The Door has been opened both then and now, as our Church exceeds the confines of our beautiful Sanctuary, and into the community of our Soles. In spite of pandemic, and even in the confines of social distancing during this year’s observance of Easter, we will thrive.

And so, as we begin to explore how to worship isolated from each other, what should we focus on. I am led to our “Call to Worship” for this message in Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

This passage is a walk around the spiritual block. It expresses our faith, even if we are prevented from going outside right now. It says where we were as a people of God, what has happened on our account, and where the Lord is right now; from the Hand of the Majesty in Heaven, out into the world of incredible creation, into the very essence of each of our hearts.

When we walk in His footsteps, in a faithwalk in Him, we begin to understand the hope many of us have been taught from our youth.

The core of our faith, reflects time and time again “He Lives!” And we as a Family in God live on together in this spirit by; thought, love, word and deed, at this time of our Passover, this time of Easter. God bless you, and God bless the little congregation on the corner!

Benediction: Romans 15:13; And now:

13 May the God who gives hope fill you with great joy. May you have perfect peace as you trust in him. May the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.

And may you always remember beloved, you are never alone. With the rock removed the Door is open.   Amen!