First Lesson: Acts 4: 5-12
Responsive Reading: Psalm 23
Second Lesson: 1 John 3: 16-24
Gospel Lesson: John 10: 11-18
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Let me begin this morning with a story. In 2011, I was going to take a vacation to Las Vegas like most winters, the only difference was this time I was going to side junket to see my Aunt Carol in California. Carol calls me up and says that she is going to invite Grandma to join us for the festivities. You figure a thirty-one-year-old Lutheran minister, his fifty-one-year-old aunt, and eighty-seven-year-old grandma getting together would make for a boring story, you would be wrong.
I leave peaceful Las Vegas to drive to California. Driving rush hour in Los Angeles was going to be the most peaceful part of the rest of the day. I’m supposed to pick Grandma up curbside at LAX with her having no cell-phone. When I finally track her down, she needs help to getting to the bathroom. The following scenario isn’t ideal when you’re curbside at LAX. I help Grandma to the bathroom, rush back to the car hoping it’s not stolen or towed, and then go meet Grandma again to push her out to the car. The only problem was in the franticness of trying to park the car in a large foreign airport, I forgot my way back to the car. I have to spend the next ninety minutes walking parking lots at LAX to try to find a rental car. Once I finally get Grandma into the car, I enter in Aunt Carol’s address into the GPS. The thing about Grandma is she isn’t real good with directions; the problem with this is that she gets agitated when you don’t listen to her. Grandma insists Carol lives north of the airport, rather than south.
So the entire car trip consists of Grandma yelling at the GPS “shut up”, shouting some words that would be defined as “cuss words” and proclaiming how we’re going to end up dead in Mexico before the night is over.
Finally, I try getting Aunt Carol on the phone to calm Grandma down. The following conversation would only agitate the situation. Soon, I’m driving on the 405 San Diego Expressway listening to Aunt Carol and Grandma yelling at each other over my cell phone at the top of each other’s lungs over directions. A few hours in California have turned into the least peaceful vacation of my entire life. Finally, we get to Orange County about ten West Coast time.
I go to bed sometime about two am; I get woken up at four by Aunt Carol and Grandma screaming at each other at the top of their lungs. I don’t even think about getting out of bed. I didn’t care to know the nature of the argument at this point. I just hope it stops soon enough that I can some sleep. When I wake up the next morning, no one acts at all like any of this is outside of normal.
The thing about Grandma and Aunt Carol is this is their relationship. My Aunt and Grandma think nothing of calling each other at 2 AM as Grandma stays in the nursing home with a roommate. They’ll yell at each other, and then think nothing of it five minutes later. They are as close to each other as any mother and daughter could be. What their relationship does though is showcase the myth that all Swedes are afraid to express themselves.
Their relationship like all human relationships it is unique. They have a weird give and take, but it works for them. It seems like whatever comes their way the relationship is never in flux even as the world around them might be pulling them every direction imaginable. These bedrock relationships in the midst of chaos are what we desire in life.
My Aunt and Grandma’ story brings us to today’s Gospel lesson from John 10 where Jesus proclaims to be the Good Shepherd. This proclamation ties into our Psalm for today that we all know for its famous beginning “The Lord is my shepherd”.
What’s noteworthy about this passage is the audience for this passage. Jesus is speaking to the very disciples, who are about to abandon him upon his arrest. Jesus is saying to his disciples that our relationship is not going to be like a normal relationship. You’re going to run away from me, you’re going to ignore my call, and I’m still going to chase after you. Jesus refers to himself as a shepherd because sheep are animals that will inevitability disappoint you. The thing about a good shepherd is that his priority is never on the sheep that stay where they’re supposed to stay; the shepherd’s priority is always to the lost sheep. A shepherd will always put his lost sheep first.
What does this passage have to do with us today? I’ll often hear people talk about their relationship with Jesus being the most important thing in their lives. Such language always sounds good, but I do wonder if it misses the point.
Think of the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep, this is a one sided relationship. The shepherd is the one who gives all good things; the shepherd watches over his sheep as a father watches over his children. The shepherd is ultimately the sheep’s savior once harm comes their way; the sheep are merely the heirs to all the good things that a shepherd may deliver.
Michael Horton a few years ago wrote a book called Christless Christianity in this book; Horton describes the Christian’s relationship with the shepherd.
Horton says, “Everyone has a personal relationship with God already: either as a condemned criminal standing before a righteous judge or as a justified coheir with Christ and adopted child of the Father.”
We stand before God either as a guilty sinner or forgiven saint. There is no potential state of flux. Our relationship with Jesus was not defined within the last week; nor will it be defined within the upcoming week, our relationship was made on a cross.
What makes our relationship with Jesus different than all voluntary human relationships is it is defined by a promise. The observable measure of our faith is what God gives to us in word and sacrament.
The thing that stands out so much about this passage is the contrasts that it portrays
“He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn't own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees,”-John 10:12
This week I was watching a TV show on former LSU Basketball Coach Dale Brown and Shaquille O’Neil. Their story begins with O’Neil living in Germany as a 13-year-old boy. O’Neil stood 6’9 but was unable to dunk a basketball. O’Neil was too weak in the legs. O’ Neil is ready to give up basketball. O’Neil hears that LSU Coach Dale Brown is coming to visit his stepfather’s Army base. O’Neil decides to try to approach Brown for advice. O’Neil despite his size was just as timid and awkward as your average thirteen old. Brown promises O’Neil that once he’s back in Louisiana, he was going to send Shaquille strength drills to get bigger. Brown keeps his word. Brown stays in touch with this uncoordinated thirteen-year-old in Germany. Brown stays in touch throughout O’Neil’s high school career before O’Neil decides to play for Coach Brown at LSU. Brown’s relationship with O’Neil was about much more than just winning games. When O’Neil misses a class, Brown forces him out of bed to run sprints at the track. When O’Neil thinks that he is going to bomb in speech class, Brown helps him by listening to his speech. Years go by; O’Neil leaves LSU becomes the biggest Basketball star in the world. O’Neil makes hundreds of millions of dollars, yet Dale Brown never asks for a thing. O'Neil is still contacted by Dale Brown every week, no different then when he was an awkward thirteen-year-old living in Germany. The shepherd and the sheep’s relationship will not change because of the sheep’s success or lack of success.
‘Shepherds do not come and go willy-nilly out of a sheep’s life. Think of the most important of relationships in your life. Do these people leave you when your hair is either leaving you or going gray? Do these people leave you if you’re carrying a few extra pounds around the midsection? Do these people abandon you after hearing you tell the same boring story time and time again? 
The difference between a hired hand and a shepherd is the difference between one looking to collect a paycheck and someone whose vow to you extends way beyond what you can ever give them in return. The good shepherd promises to stand alongside us during the storms of our life when others go running for shelter.
Let me tell another story. I start to work in Lamberton. I get a call from Pastor Warren Baker in Estherville, Iowa saying that his congregation prayer team is praying for me and that he is going to watch over me in the months ahead. I go meet Warren for lunch at the Embers off I-90 in Jackson, Minnesota a bunch of times over my time down there. Warren’s a colorful character. Warren’s the type of guy that if he meets ten new people, the sheer bluntness of his words will have no one leaving the room unsure how they feel about him for better or worse.
The thing that I admire about Warren is once a person comes into his life there is not one thing that he wouldn’t do for them. He would think nothing of driving 1500 miles to help a small house church in the middle of nowhere Montana figure out their next steps. Warren would think nothing of being on the phone at seven in the morning or eleven at night. Warren would think nothing of driving a hundred miles for a hospital visit. Warren would think nothing of giving money out of his pocket to help someone else down on their luck. Warren has dedication to shepherding his congregation and those outside his congregation like no minister that I’ve ever met.
One day, Warren is sitting down with me when he makes one of the boldest statements that he’ll ever make.
He says, “Stew you’re really lucky if, in life, you have five people that will always be close to you. People that will stand beside you whether you’re successful or a failure. People that will be close to you wherever your ministry will take you. Stew, you have your Father, you have Carl, one day you’ll maybe have a wife that falls into this category, and the last person you have is Warren Baker”.
The brashness of this statement caught me off. Who is this guy to talk to me in such a way? How can he make such a bold promise? I would never say anything like that in return. What Warren was saying is no different than what the good shepherd is saying to the sheep.
The definition of a good shepherd is someone who will go farther for the sheep then makes any real sense. The relationship between a shepherd and a sheep is never one of like for like or trade off for trade off. The relationship between a shepherd and a sheep is one where the shepherd promises to walk alongside side the sheep, sustain the sheep with the gifts of life, while the sheep merely stare at the shepherd confused by it all.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”- John 10:14-15
The point of our passage from today where Jesus promises to be our good shepherd is we do not control our relationship. What we must always do is contrast the relationship between Jesus and Us with every other relationship that we hold in our life.
What the Christian ultimately does or does not do is not where the Christian hope resides. The great hope of the Christian faith is dying to our self; the great hope of the Christian faith is the day that the shepherd returns once again to make all things new. He is the shepherd; we are the sheep. Amen
 Psalm 23:1
 McDavid, Will. “Old Persuasive Words: Seven Common Theology Phrases That Should Be Used More Precisely”. Mockingbird Ministries (MBIRD). 28.Oct.2014. Web. Apr.21.2015
 Kalnajs, Dawn. “It’s Not a Religion, It’s a Relationship”. Real Reality Zone. 18.Jul.2009. Web. Apr.21.2015. Taken from the comments section by Tom made on Oct.3.2009.
 This was an episode of ESPN’s SEC Storied entitled “Shaq&Dale”. 13. Apr. 2015. TV. Apr.24.2015
 Inspired by McLarty, Dr. Phillip. W. “Good Shepherds and Hired Hands”. 2003. Lectionary.org. Web. Apr.21.2015
First Lesson: Acts 4: 32-35
Responsive Reading: Psalm 133
Second Lesson: 1 John 1: 1-2:2
Gospel Lesson: John 20: 19-31
Grace and peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I want to tell you the story of ten men locked in a room. These men’s lives were about to have an encounter that was going to change their lives’ forever. Only one man was left out. Our story for today is the story of the week after Holy Week. Our lesson tells how a man named Thomas was at the center of the story.
Our lesson begins the Sunday night of Easter in a locked room at the same house in Jerusalem where the Disciples had shared their final supper with their savior a few nights before. The Disciples were terrified. They were witnesses to Jesus’ arrest. John had been a witness to his crucifixion and death. Peter was so scared at being recognized by the mob that he denied knowing Jesus on three separate occasions. The Disciples feared that the same Chief Priests who had Jesus killed were coming for them next.
So the Disciples that Sunday sat and sat some more. They were thinking about how to escape town without being recognized. They were living like outlaws. Then one disciple saw him. Then another disciple’s eye became open. Another disciple started shaking his head like he was living in a dream. There standing before them was what appeared to be “Jesus”. The same “Jesus” who they thought was dead was now standing before them.
The first words out of Jesus’ mouth upon seeing the Disciples were “Peace be with you”. Jesus knew what the Disciples reaction was going to be. Sure they had seen Jesus perform miracles, even raise Lazarus from the dead, yet seeing Jesus coming back from Roman Crucifixion that’s just going to freak people out. Was Jesus a ghost? Jesus knew what the Disciples were going to think. So Jesus sets out to prove that he’s all flesh and bone to the Disciples at this moment. Jesus shows the Disciples his hands and his side. Jesus extends unto his disciples the very hands that were pierced by nails and the very side that had been whipped. The Disciples were convinced that they were dealing with the same guy; they had supper with a few days prior. The Disciples started yelling like you would upon seeing a long lost family member. A few disciples even busted out dance moves in celebration.
Only one of the eleven remaining disciples wasn’t there for Jesus’ appearance, a man known as Thomas. Why was Thomas not there on Sunday evening? Thomas was sick of being in a locked room. Thomas was sick of being asked the same few questions again and again. Thomas was tired of hearing other people crying. Thomas would rather be alone. Think of all the people that you know in your life that have just lost someone close to them. We all know how people grieve differently. Some people grieve by always needing to be around people. Other people might not show up to church for a little while. They might not want to spend a lot of time doing things with friends. We all know people who would rather grieve alone. Thomas was this type of griever. Thomas’ grief explains why Thomas wasn’t there at the Lord’s first appearance.
Thomas finally comes back to where the Disciples were staying. Thomas knocks a special code so that they know he’s safe to let in.
Thomas comes back that Sunday night to hear a tale. “We have seen the Lord” “He was just here” “Thomas, you totally missed him.”
Now imagine Thomas’ reaction to hearing the Disciples story.
Thomas when you left, and we had the doors locked real tight, Jesus just showed up here, and Jesus then left.
We have no idea where he went, we don’t know when he might return, and He didn’t really stay all that long. But Thomas, you need to believe us that he was here.
Thomas was probably thinking, wait a minute, we spent the last three years together with Jesus, he then just shows up and leaves again.”
Let me tell a story, When I was a freshman in college, I worked as a Bible camp counselor. 8th and 9th grade week was the toughest week all summer. The kids were at just the age, where causing mischief for authority figures was the most exciting thing in life. One day the heavens opened up over Pine County. The kids were supposed to stay inside. Kids being kids they kept threatening to bolt out the door. I was started to freak out whenever anyone would make a quick step towards the door. Finally an old maintenance guy named Phil who had worked at the camp for decades, comes up to me, tells me not to worry about it because “Where exactly are they going to go”.
Even if Thomas thought Jesus might be alive, the idea that he would be staying somewhere else in Jerusalem or out traveling by himself, after all, that went down in the past week seems kind of far-fetched. Where exactly would Jesus go without the Disciples? Thomas had good reason to believe the Disciples’ story was fishy. Thomas wasn’t the type of guy that was going to fall for a story. Thomas wasn’t going to have people laughing at him behind his back. To Thomas, what the other disciples were saying seemed to be as believable as saying that someone saw Elvis Presley down at Bri-Esa’s.
So Thomas did what nearly anyone would do. Thomas came up with a series of demands, proofs, or prerequisites that he needed to have met before he would finally declare himself to be a believer.
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. “
Whenever I preach on this text, my reaction is always the same. Thomas is the most misunderstood character in the Bible. Peter is never called “Denying Peter,” none of the other disciples have the nickname “cowardly” attached to them for abandoning Jesus upon his arrest. Despite all this, Thomas is the one with the negative sounding nickname “Doubting Thomas”. Whenever we attach a nickname like this to Thomas, we are failing to admit that he was just as human and flawed as any of Jesus’ other disciples. Nor does Thomas ask for more proof of belief that the other disciples had already received.
Let’s be honest about a second point. Monday passes, no Jesus. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, no signs to see of Jesus and no reports to hear of Jesus. Every day in the week after Jesus’ death, Thomas is probably feeling more and more convinced the Disciples had just been drinking a little too much wine with their Sunday evening supper. As for the other Disciples, they have what would seem to be the definition of a life-changing encounter with Jesus. Though they still sit around the same room acting like nothing has ever changed.
Let me tell another story, when I was sixteen years old, I didn’t have a driver’s license, and my parents were going away on vacation. My parents decided that in case my sister, and I needed to go anywhere they would give my friend Ben the keys to their new Mitsubishi Galant. Ben was the friend whose wedding ceremony I performed last month in Mexico. Giving a sixteen-year-old keys to a car like that is a terrible idea. This case was no exception. Ben drove everywhere that we could think of with this thing. Ben drove to eat in Hinckley. Ben drove to the Mall of America. Ben drove to Minneapolis multiple times. Ben drove miles backward through the streets of Lindstrom trying to get the odometer to reverse. Ben drove around back-country Chisago County roads at way above the speed limit. This thing handled so smooth that it could take corners at well over a hundred miles per hour. If boldness were ever going to get me killed any week of my high school life, this would have been the week. I’ll just say there is some good luck involved with that week and me speaking to you today.
The thing about Ben and I is we had been given a new lease on life, we weren’t just going to sit around watching T.V. Yet in the wake of encountering Jesus, the Disciples just sat around and did nothing. The Disciples didn’t seem really all that interested in convincing Thomas that the Resurrection was for real. Doubting Thomas is only a creation of the Disciples not being the most effective evangelists themselves.
The following Sunday night though Thomas would have his moment. It was almost as if God was saying “Thomas, you think you can run away, no, you can’t.” He’s back. The long hair guy who the Swedes think had blond hair and blue eyes. Thomas was now like the guy saying “There is no way anybody can beat Kentucky in Basketball”, yet you shut up pretty quickly when Kentucky losses.
Here was Jesus standing before Thomas. The script played out the same as last Sunday’s visit. Peace be with you, See my hands, Touch my side, Stop doubting and believe. Thomas from this point forward in life was going to confess Jesus to every person that he was going to meet.
Interestingly enough, Jesus never dwells on Thomas’ doubt. Jesus is much more interested in extending Thomas peace and forgiveness so that he can move forward with life.
So the story of Thomas brings us to this morning. We reflect on the meaning of Thomas’s story for our story.
Fredrick Buechner says, “Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep.”
So might doubt have a spiritual purpose? Doubt isn’t good or bad. Doubt is merely a reality of faith. When people say prove that Jesus rose from the dead. Perhaps you can make the case that without some sort of spiritual intervention that there is no way that eleven men hiding scared in a room would one day be the founders of a religion with over one billion followers at every corner of the Earth. Perhaps you could give a testimonial of how your faith led you through a particularly dark moment in your life. The truth is that none of these things can convince an unbeliever unless God decides to touch them just like he touched Thomas. The reality of faith is that there will always be open questions or things that we won’t know this side of heaven. We can do one of two things with our doubts. We can either drown in our doubts, embrace our excuses, stand on the street corner pointing out all the hypocritical Christians who give someone a nickname like “Doubting Thomas”. The other option is we can admit that we will have doubts as Christian people that will never smooth over, and that’s O.K.
Why would God allow this? Why was my friend put to death? Thomas is not a raging skeptic; Thomas is an everyman for the Christian faith. Thomas is a hero whose life story takes him all the way to India way farther than any of the other disciples to start a church.
You actually believe that when you die that you’ll eventually wake up? Sure, do. I’ll take Thomas’ word for it. Amen
 The following sermon is a semi-creative retelling of Thomas’ story based on John 20:19-29.
 John 20:19
 John 20:19
 John 20:20
 John 20:20
 These are not reasons from any sort of academic speculation. This serves merely as a way to imagine Thomas’ story.
 John 20:25
 This part of the sermon along with the section pointing out Thomas’ reasons for being skeptical of the Disciples claims were inspired by an article entitled “Correcting Saint John” written by Russell Saltzmann (NALC) published at First Things on 9.Apr.2015. Web. Apr.9.2015
 John 20:27
 The Buechner quote appears in a sermon by Reverend Tim Zingale entitled “? Thomas” published at Sermon Central in March 2008.
 Ed Markquart gives a really powerful testimonial in a Series B sermon entitled “Thomas, an Honest Doubter” that can be found at Sermons from Seattle. Markquart’s testimony inspired the last section on the importance of just letting doubts eventually go.
 Church Tradition
First Lesson: Isaiah 25: 6-9
Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
Gospel: Mark 16: 1-8
Grace and peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I want to tell you a story about my Great Grandpa Arvid. Arvid was in his nineties. Arvid’s eyesight was at the point that he probably shouldn’t have been driving, yet he was. One day, Arvid is backing out of his driveway when he backs all the way across the street hitting Duane Arnold’s apple tree. Arvid hit this apple tree hard. The back end of Arvid’s car was not going to be easily fixed. Apples and branches were scattered all over the car’s roof. Arvid felt nothing, so he drove uptown. Arvid stopped in at Russ Johnson’s local service station. Russ Johnson’s was the last service station in Lindstrom where they still had attendants fill up your car. Arvid asks for a fill up because he was going to drive to Wisconsin. The attendant had no idea what to say at this point as he looked at the banged up car with the old man oblivious to it all. Arvid would never drive a car again after this incident. Life was never going to be the same again. Why was Arvid going to drive to Wisconsin? We can merely speculate in the years after he left us. Back to Arvid and the apple tree in a bit.
Today’s Easter lesson comes from the Gospel of Mark. The story begins with three women Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome wishing to get up early on a Sunday morning to see Jesus. These women probably hadn’t been able to sleep really well as they dealt with all the emotions of the past few days witnessing one of the closest people in their life to die in such a fashion as crucifixion. They get up early that Sunday morning so that they may anoint his body. Give Jesus as proper a send off as they could before moving onto the next chapter in their life. Their concern going to the tomb that day was the stone guarding it was so large that they would be unable to move it.
When they arrive at the tomb, they see the stone rolled away, and an angelic messenger sitting in the place where Jesus body previously lay. The messenger proclaims “The Jesus that you are looking for, he is not here; he is on his way to Galilee”.
The trip back to Galilee seems like an odd move for Jesus. Here Jesus was in the cosmopolitan city of Jerusalem, the religious capital of the world. Jesus could have returned to stand before his captors and crucifiers with the taunts of “na, na, na, boo, boo, you can’t kill me”. Jesus instead decides that he wants to go back to Galilee.
The one thing that many people don’t know about Jesus after the resurrection is that he wasn’t all that visible. He appeared to the disciples twice in Jerseleum, he encountered a couple travelers on the Road to Emmaus, he appeared before the Disciples at the Lake of Tiberias for the miraculous catch of fish, and he appeared to the eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee to give them the Great Commission. Jesus made five appearances in forty days between his Resurrection and Ascension. What was Jesus doing the rest of that time? Nobody knows? The thing worth noting about all these appearances is that none of them had much fanfare. Jesus throughout the Gospels seems to be not one to revel in his fifteen minutes of fame. Jesus doesn’t go back to the Temple in Jerusalem so that all the eyes of the world may be upon him. Instead, Jesus goes somewhere where his motives are less evident in a post- Resurrection world.
So why go back to Galilee? Why primarily spend his extra days on Earth off the grid? To understand this question, you need to know the whole story of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus is returning to the place where he spends the majority of his life and ministry. Jesus is returning to the sites of his teaching and miracles.
There are many things about Jesus’ life within in Mark’s Gospel that shall always be a mystery. Like when Jesus would perform healing miracles, why would he want people to keep his mighty deeds a secret? Why when Peter recognizes Jesus as “the Christ” does Jesus want Peter to keep his mouth shut.
The reason for this is because the only way that we know anything about Jesus is through the Resurrection. We can only understand every story within the Christian Gospels in light of the story’s ending. The history of Galilee is perhaps why Jesus wanted to return to the site of his ministry. It’s almost as if Jesus is saying to those who think they know his story, to go read it again.
One of the most common encounters that I have in the ministry is dealing with people in the midst of their grief. People often wonder why so and so had to leave them. For many people, there are no right words to say.
I had a Great Uncle named Sunny. Sunny was a nice guy. Sunny was a Unitarian, who held no belief in eternal life. My Dad went to Sunny’s funeral where all they talked about was Sunny and things he loved such as nature. Sunny’s funeral served as an example of depressing ways that people can often think about death. There was not one word said that gave any hope for those that mourn beyond their memories of Sunny. We’re here today, but gone tomorrow. Non-religious funerals are the most empty events in the world. To believe that there is nothing out there seems to crush the soul.
Our Resurrection story tells us something different.
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead.”-1st Corinthians 15:12
Today, we see a Jesus, who has risen from the dead, yet is still hiding out there in the world. What we also see is a Jesus, who refuses to stay exactly where he is supposed to stay. What Easter reminds us is that God doesn’t sit still or even play dead, Our Lord does what he pleases. Our Lord will even save “sinners”. The secret behind God’s motives is why even those closest to Jesus would misunderstand him throughout the course of his life.
Tom Long says it best “The saving action of God in the world is always hidden, ambiguous, sealed off from obvious explanation”.
Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb that day expecting God to act one way only to be proven wrong. The women flee the tomb in terror because this story was going to play out so differently than they could have previously envisioned.
We often expect God in our lives to zig one way, only to be surprised when he zags the other way. Jesus came into this world all-powerful, yet he was going to suffer and die still. Where God most ultimately surprises us is when he stands alongside us when we are at our weakest, the very moment of our death.
Jesus goes back to Galilee to return to the beginning. Bring us back to Eden. Today, we return to the promises given to us in our Baptism.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.-Romans 6:3-5
My hope is that you see you every event that you are having to move forward from this day in the context of the resurrection that you reappraise the whole story of your life through its ending. That as we leave this place you head back into the world, we remember that our Lord has promised to go ahead of us. We encounter on this day a God that we cannot capture or catch. We encounter a God whose whereabouts are often so nonsensical that he ends up on the Cross only to end up walking back to Galilee three days later.
Let me close with the conclusion of my Great Grandpa and the apple tree. The car gets cleaned up. No one is quite sure what to do with the apples. The Arnolds from across the street didn’t want them. Many of the apples were smashed and appeared to be inedible. While my Grandma Buena May, who was my Great Grandpa’s caretaker, takes all the smashed apples and makes a pie. I remember this pie like no other apple pie that I’ve ever eaten because the story behind it was so unique. The apple story ties into the story of Easter because this is what Our Lord does on this day. Our God takes on our weakness (our smashed apples), our imperfections in the form of death, only to use it to usher in forgiveness and eternal life. He is risen! He is risen indeed!
 Mark 16:3
 This is a slight paraphrase of Mark 16:5-7.
 John 20:19-29, Luke 24:36-49
 Luke 24:13-35,
 John 21:1-10
 Matthew 28:16-20.
 Mark 1:43-45, Mark 5:43-44, Mark 7:36, Mark 8:26
 Mark 8:30
 1st Corinthians 15:12
 This was inspired by Duke Professor Will Willemon’s explanation for the Resurrection.
 Long, Thomas G. “Dangling Gospel: Mark 16:1-8”. The Christian Century. 4.Apr.2006. Web. Mar.30.2015 taken from Religion Online prepared by Ted and Winnie Brock.
 Romans 6:3-5
Pastor Stew Carlson
These are all Sunday sermon's written by Pastor Stew.