First Lesson: Acts 10: 34-43
Responsive Reading: Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24
Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 15: 19-26
Gospel Lesson: John 20: 1-18
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
This morning, I want to begin by talking about a reality that plagues some of the most seemingly successful people in our world.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg describes herself attending Harvard University and “Feeling like a fraud”.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor while attending Princeton described herself as “Too embarrassed to ask questions”.
Actor Don Cheadle describes his worldview as such “All I can see is everything I’m doing wrong that is a sham.”
Actress Meryl Streep told a reporter in 2001 “I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”
Three-quarters of students at Harvard Business School feel like they got in by the failure of the admissions process.
From personal experience, I’ve had some of the brightest, most talented, amazing kids that I’ve come across tell me that they inevitability feel themselves to be unworthy compared to others.
The following phenomenon is known in Psychology as “Imposter Syndrome” points to a much larger spiritual issue. The issue is judgment is all around us. Our life often seems to be a constant reminder of our own imperfections. Judgment plagues us when we step on the scale for our yearly physical. Judgment plagues us when we check our bank statements after a big spending spree. Judgment hurts us when relationships collapse. Judgment comes to us in its harshest form at the grave. There seems to be no surer judgment in the world then the dead remaining inside the grave.
Today’s Second Lesson comes to us from 1st Corinthians 15. 1st Corinthians was written about 25 years after Jesus’ supposedly rose from the dead. There were still those within the Corinthian Church who could not believe Resurrection to be true no matter how many times they heard it. Many of the Corinthians believed the Greek idea that it is only the soul that is eternal. They didn’t believe that Resurrection was possible. The letter’s author Paul is seeking to preach to the Corinthians that there is indeed life beyond the grave.
Paul’s word’s emphasizing the necessity of resurrection to belief: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is worthless, and your faith is worthless.” What Paul is saying here in the words of my good friend Warren Baker is that if Christ has not been raised “One ought to throw the good book in a fireplace.” Paul says that without Resurrection that Jesus is merely a man like all others still lying in a tomb. The formerly skeptical Paul as he says these words has come to conclude that the stones covering the tomb have indeed been rolled away. Paul’s life had been changed every day since!
What Resurrection points us to even as the word threatens to come crashing down on us at any moment is that in the end either death shall win out or God’s love shall ultimately triumph.
Henri Nouwen says “The mystery of God’s love is not that he takes our pains away, but that he first wants to share them with us.”
The promise that we are given of Resurrection is secure because Christ has indeed been raised from the dead by the power of God.
There are probably people out there this morning who believe Resurrection to be nothing more than a TV infomercial appearing too good to be true. Let’s be honest; this Resurrection story is hard to believe. Let’s grant skeptics that they have a valid point.
The first people who encountered the women after leaving Christ’s tomb considered them to be “delirious.” What I want to say this morning is that Resurrection should be hard to grasp if we really take its promises seriously.
We remember the words of Hebrews 11:1 that ultimately “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen.” What we can grasp onto this morning is that those who went to Jesus’ grave didn’t believe that Resurrection was possible before they became witnesses to it.
From where we draw, comfort is Mary Magdalene's confession “I have seen the Lord”. Mary didn’t believe that she would ever see her savior alive again. Mary didn’t believe that the proverbial stones of sin and shame in her life could be rolled away before her very eyes. Mary’s whole view of the world around her changed though as she encountered the risen Lord. Easter Sunday reminds us that we are not limited by the confines of this world; we are not limited even by how we see ourselves. We are a people of Resurrection!
In 2007, there was an episode of the TV show the Simpsons where the bald, blue-pant wearing seemingly doofus father Homer Simpson is pictured in the church bulletin sleeping on a pew, body positioned in such a way that his sleeping wasn’t all that subtle, drool is coming out of Homer Simpson’s mouth. The First Church of Springfield’s bulletin headline blares out next to Homer’s picture“Jesus died for this?
What Easter tells us is “Yes, Jesus did indeed die for those who seem to be nothing but fat, lazy slobs like Homer Simpson.
The truth about Resurrection is that we can witness its truth in even the most unexpected of places.
The following story comes from a guy named Peter Karenfills who describes an encounter he had when out for a morning drive. Peter has a gentleman cut him off and flash him an obscene gesture along with yelling some church inappropriate language out the window. Peter couldn’t figure out why this gentleman would act this way towards him.
So Peter pulls into Starbucks behind this gentleman. Now most people would have used this as an opportunity to tell this gentleman off good. “How rude?” “How disrespectful?” So Peter tries finding this man but couldn’t. So he stands in the line to buy himself a coffee when the man walks out of the bathroom. Peter tells him today is “his lucky day”? He offers to purchase the man his coffee. The man proceeds to look at him stunned. “Really?” The man said. The man did not recognize Peter. After buying the coffee, Peter told him that he was the guy that he “road-raged at earlier.”
The man begins to apologize. He admits that his behavior came from a lot of stress in his own life. Peter merely laughs it off by saying “It’s all good.” They then both discover the reason for the cut-off was the man’s turn signal was burnt out. What this story reminds us is that Resurrections take place in the world around us whenever the way that we look at the world is totally spinned on its axis. Resurrection serves as a continual reminder that light can indeed come from out of the deepest darkness.
I want to close this morning with a story as told by Ed Markquart. It’s a story of a six-year-old boy that I’ll call Sam. Sam grew up in Laos during the Vietnam War. Sam got separated from his mother and father during the war, so he had to live with Grandma, Grandpa, and some of his cousins. News eventually arrives that Sam’s parents had both been killed during the war. Sam was sad! Sam mourns their loss nearly every day for the next three years of his life. Every day in his grief, Sam got continually more used to his surroundings of his new family. No one though could replace Mom and Dad. One day, Sam receives an unexpected telegram saying that his parents were alive and now living in Seattle. Sam couldn’t believe this story to be true. Sam believed that what was thought to be dead couldn’t possibly come back into his life. Sam was initially apprehensive about leaving Laos. Sam’s new family was comfortable, and the future was uncertain. Sam was going to have to get on a plane and fly for the first time. Sam steps off the airplane in Seattle seeing nothing but “tall, white people” speaking a language that sounded like gibberish. Sam finally sees his parents though off in the distance. As Sam walks closer to them, he sees them beaming at his presence. Sam had never been so happy in his life than at that moment. The telegram that Sam had received back in Laos was true! Resurrection was indeed possible within Sam’s life.
As we reflect on Sam’s story today, the truth of the Resurrection is this. Resurrection spins the globe upside down. What Resurrection says to us in the words of Giles Fraser is that “God loves you because of who you are not because of what you have achieved.” Grace shall triumph over Judgment in the end. Judgment has been made powerless on the cross. Resurrection says that it as the point of our greatest dejections, do we find our greatest hope. This great Christian hope extends not only to today but throughout all eternity.
He is Risen. He is Risen indeed. Amen!
 Goudreau, Jenna. “When Women Feel Like Frauds They Fuel Their Own Failures.”. Forbes Magazine. 2011. Oct.19.Web Mar.21.2016.
 Goudreau, Jenna. “When Women Feel Like Frauds They Fuel Their Own Failures.”.
 Warrell, Margie. “Afraid of Being ‘Found Out?’ How to Overomce Imposter Syndrome” Forbes Magazine. 2014.Apr.3. Web. Mar.21.2016
 Goudreau, Jenna. “When Women Feel Like Frauds They Fuel Their Own Failures.”.
 Baer, Drake. “Do You Have Imposter Syndrome or Are You Actually Qualified For Your Job?”. Fast Company. 2013. Nov.1. Web. Mar.21.2016.
 1st Corinthians 15:19-26.
 Carlson, Richard. “Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:19-26”. Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul. 20.Mar.2016. Web. Mar.21.2016.
 1st Corinthians 15:14
 Lose, David. “If It’s Not Hard to Believe, You’re Probably Not Paying Attention!”. Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul. 24.Mar.2013. Web. Mar.21.2016.
 Lose, David. “If It’s Not Hard to Believe, You’re Probably Not Paying Attention!”.
 Lewis, Karoline. “True Resurrection”. Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul. 20.Mar.2016. Web. Mar.21.2016.
 Inspiration comes from a blog post entitled “Jesus died for this” found on Eternity Matters blog.
 Karenfills, Peter. “Why am I posting a selfie with a coffee cup and a peace sign.” Love What Matters. Found on Facebook. 20.Mar.2016. WebMar.21.2016.
 Karenfills, Peter. “Why am I posting a selfie with a coffee cup and a peace sign.”
 Karenfills, Peter. “Why am I posting a selfie with a coffee cup and a peace sign”
 Markquart, Ed. “Afraid of the Unknown.” Sermons from Seattle.Web. Mar.21.2016.
 Fraser, Giles. “Christianity, when properly understood is a religion of losers
First Lesson: Jeremiah 31: 1-6
Second Lesson: Acts 10: 34-43
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 28: 1-10
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Today’s Gospel lesson from Matthew 28 is ultimately a story about a Mother and a Son.
It’s a tale of a Mother who was amazed by her child at early age of twelve as her son had gotten so smart that he even amazed the greatest religious scholars of his day.
It’s a tale of a Mother who was present at the first miraculous thing that he did in his life, when he turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Yet what most people don’t realize about this miracle is that it only took place after her son had received his Mom’s encouragement.
It’s a tale of a mother who just two days previous saw her son being nailed to the cross in agonizing pain, yet all she could do was hurt on the inside as she saw her son in pain. The relationship between Mother and Son was close. Mary had followed her son to the cross even when the disciples did not.
It’s a tale of a Mother who went to her Son’s tomb on a Sunday morning, even though she knew it would be painful. The Mother was a real stickler for tradition. It was custom to return to your loved one’s tomb for days after their death to mourn. The Mother was going to return to her son’s tomb, just like she returned to the tomb for days after her husband’s death years before. The Mother approached the tomb on that Sunday morning, slumbering through; the previous few days had been emotionally exhausting as she had lost a child too young.
The Mother was experiencing a moment in life that many of us know. The Mother was experiencing that time when our minds can’t stop thinking about those who have been taken from us whether it be a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a child, or a friend. The Mother went to the tomb that Sunday morning overwhelmed by the loss of her son, while thinking how she would stop at nothing to bring him back to her.
Yet something strange had happened at the crack of dawn that Sunday morning. An earthquake had shaken Judea. This was the second earthquake to hit Judea in a two day period. The previous earthquake had happened two days before, right at the moment of her son’s death.
The Mother didn’t know what to make of this earthquake? She thought it to be nothing more than random chance.
Yet, as the Mother and another woman, Mary Magdalene approached her son’s tomb that Sunday morning they saw something amazing! An angel appeared before them appearing brighter than lightning. This Angel then proceeded to roll away the stone which sat in front of her son’s tomb and sit on it. The Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb were so scared by the meaning of all this that they fainted in fear.
The first words out of the Angel’s mouth were “Do not be afraid”.
These words had been spoken to the Mother one other time in her life, when an angel Gabriel had appeared before her to proclaim to her that she would soon bear a child to be called “Jesus”.
These words of “Do not be afraid” spoken to the Mother were important because they were meant to announce to her that everything she went to the Tomb thinking about death previously was no longer going to apply.
The Angel’s next words to Mary the Mother spoke to this truth, “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised.” “Come; see the place where he lay”.
Earlier that week her son had spoken words that no one quite understood what they meant at that time “Tear down this temple and it will be rebuilt in three days” These words were thought to refer to the physical place, her son was when he spoke them.
Yet what these words really meant is that the words that her Son had spoken throughout his entire ministry were true. God’s promises were certain. God will forgive your sins.
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
For when Mary was told to “Come, see the place where her son had previously laid”, Mary had been given a new hope that she couldn’t have fathomed before she had awakened on that day.
In 1982, one of the most popular movies of all time came out in: ET: The Extra Terrestrial. E.T. tells the story of a ten year old boy named Elliott who longed for more than anything a deeper connection with the world around him. Elliott’s whole world changes when he discovers ET, an alien, hiding in his family’s tool shed. E.T’s supernatural power is on display in the film as he is able to revive a previously dead germanium. The majority of the movie centers on the friendship between Elliot and E.T. E.T though one day begins to grow very sick due from being away from his own planet. So Elliot and E.T. devise a plan for E.T. to phone home so he can be rescued. Yet before ET can go home, the Government discovers E.T., quarantines him, and E.T. slowly dies.
In the most heartwarming scene of the entire movie Elliott begins to grieve over a motionless E.T., grieving over the loss of his closest friend in the world. It was right when Elliott was at his lowest that he noticed something unbelievable out of the corner of his eyes (The very same germanium, E.T. had revived, had died, and was now coming back to life. E.T’s own lifeless corpse, then comes alive! You can’t describe the look in Elliott’s eyes at this moment, but it was probably similar to the look that came over Mary’s eyes on that Easter Sunday morning as she was told that her son was dead, no more!
For there is a lot you can tell about a person from looking into their eyes. I know as a Preacher there are certain people you don’t want to look at, when you’re giving a sermon on Sunday morning.
The eyes tell you of a person’s interest, the eyes tell you of a person’s grief, and the eyes tell you of a person’s pain even when their mouth might claim otherwise. There is no more magical moment in the world when eyes that are going through grief are given a word of hope.
Hollywood makes movies with happy endings, where truly good news can only come when we’ve been shaken from our previous way of life, when rock bottom has been flipped upside down.
The Apostle Paul writing about 20 years after Christ’s death in a letter to the church in Corinth, described the Resurrection well when he said:
“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed!”
The ultimate meaning of Easter is that there is life beyond the grave. Death no longer stands in judgment over us. The interesting way that the New Testament speaks of death is it speaks of it most commonly as “sleep”, a casual time of rest before awakening for the new day of resurrection.
For what we are reminded today is that the same Jesus who wept bitterly over his friend Lazarus’ death right before Palm Sunday knows the suffering involved in death. How death is the most emotionally and spiritually painful thing that we shall ever encounter, this is why God went through death on the cross. What the resurrection reminds us ultimately is God has dealt with the failures of our past, by declaring us to be perfect in Christ Jesus, thereby giving us hope for the future no matter what we shall endure.
As Mary went to the tomb grieving that Sunday morning, it speaks to the nature of all our grief. We grieve because death is unnatural. Death is not what God intended for his creation. Death reminds us that we were not intended to be separated from God and our loved ones this way. We were not born to live short lives and then die.
But we do no want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the those who have no hope”- I Thessalonians 4:13
This is the meaning of resurrection.
Luther described Easter best years ago when he said “In the midst of life we are ringed ’round by death,’ but the gospel reverses this, saying: in the midst of death we are ringed ’round by life,’ because we have the forgiveness of sins.”
Mary the Mother and Mary Magdalene left the tomb that day with fear and great joy. They had fear because they did not know what the days ahead ushered in by this new reality of resurrection might bring, yet they had great joy because they were convinced that there is life after death. They left the tomb with great joy, because they were now convinced that eternal life was unlike any life they had previously known. They came to realize that this event they had just witnessed was so earth-shattering to their existence that they are described as running to Galilee over 70 miles away to tell the disciples about it.
What Easter ultimately meant to Mary was that those whom she held dear, would not be forgotten, they would not be abandoned. Mary could go forth in confidence because the victory over sin and death had already been won. Mary could go forth with a voice of reassurance given by the one who overcame sin, death, and the grave.
He is risen. He is risen indeed! Amen!
 Luke 2:41-52,
 John 2:1-11
 Matthew 28:2
 Matthew 27:51
 Matthew 28:3
 Matthew 28:4
 Matthew 28:5
 Luke 1:26-38
 Matthew 28:6
 John 2:19
 John 11:25
 John 3:16
 1 Corinthians 15:51
 John 11:35
 Ted. R. “Michael Spencer Has Died”. New Reformation Press Blog. 5.Apr.2010. Web. Apr.16.2014
 LW 13:43
 Matthew 28:8
 Matthew 28:10