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Hope Lutheran Church

pastor's message

Easter… Kind of a big deal

On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and God’s victory over sin and death. On Easter Sunday, we recount the witness of the women who find the tomb empty, who run to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen. (He is risen indeed!) On Easter Sunday, we worship our God who has promised us new life as well, for as Paul writes to the Romans in Chapter 6, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Let’s face it. Easter is kind of a big deal. Though different denominations use different names to commemorate this Sunday (ie. Easter, Resurrection, New Life, Pascha), it is undeniable that the promise of life out of death is one that unites the church universal around the world. Let’s be honest. If Jesus had stayed in the tomb, had not returned from the dead, and had not sent his disciples into the world to baptize and teach, the church and our mission to share the good news would probably not exist today. But Jesus did rise again. (Luke 24:1) Jesus did demonstrate our Gracious God’s power even over death. (Matthew 28) This reminds us all that there is nothing impossible for our God. (Luke 1:37) This reminds us that our God of love and life has already gone to whatever lengths necessary to save us from the power of sin and death. (Romans 6:4) The highlighted and underlined conjunction above (but) is important, in that it reminds us that the story continues after the grave.

In the Lutheran tradition and practice, Easter Sunday is often hailed as the day of days. Many of us have witnessed the phenomena of Easter when anyone who can play a brass instrument is suddenly thrust to the front, the choir grows in anticipation of singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”, sanctuaries bulge from the number of people, and even proud stoic people in northern MN sing like they’re in the shower. We make it a priority to be in worship on Easter and to celebrate this day unlike most others throughout the year. Why is this?

I would suggest that we do this because we are drenched in the reality of Good Friday, of pain, suffering, broken relationships, sin, and death in our world. The news reminds us of the brokenness in this world as we hear or read about flooding in the Midwest and in Africa, violence and murder spurred by hate in New Zealand, and brace for another season of political finger-pointing and chest thumping. Daily we know what it is to be face to face with failure, sickness, loneliness, abandonment, and voices all around us saying we are not good enough. Cancer drains us. The future is veiled in uncertainty. Age, youth, or being differently abled haunts us. Life has us looking over our shoulder, wondering if death or darkness is lurking around the corner.

In the midst of a year where this is our reality, we need a day when we look all of this in the face and shout, “ENOUGH!” As people of faith, our witness to Easter becomes a testimony that because of Jesus there is more life in this world than death. It becomes a powerful announcement to the world that just as the tomb and death could not hold Jesus, neither will it hold us. Easter then becomes a reminder for us and the whole world that the inevitability of death, is turned upside down once and for all because death no longer gets the final word. That word belongs to our living God. That word is the Word made Flesh, and his name is Jesus.

This is why we do Easter like we do, Easter people! This is why every Sunday is a little Easter, even in Lent. This is why we shout at the top of our lungs, “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”

See you on Easter!

-Pastor Matt

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