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
Pastor Stew Carlson
These are all Sunday sermon's written by Pastor Stew.