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A New Creation

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Please stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel.

Our Gospel reading this morning comes from Luke chapter 24 verses 1 through 12. "Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn't find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn't know what to make of this. Suddenly two men were standing beside them in gleaming, bright clothing. The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the man said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn't here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee that the Human One must be handed over to sinners, be crucified and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words. When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the 11 and all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. Their words struck the apostles as nonsense and they didn't believe the women. But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home wondering what had happened." This is the Word of God for the People of God. You may be seated.

Easter is my favorite time to preach and it's also the hardest to preach because I have 15 minutes to summarize this incredible amazing thing that changed the course of history as we know it.

It's unlikely that I'm going to say anything today that y'all haven't heard before.

But the first thing that struck me when reading this passage was that word "nonsense." The women told these things to the apostles and it sounded like nonsense.

The translators are being gentle. Other translations for it were "idle talk," or

"garbage," "rubbish."

It didn't make any sense. It was insane. Crazy talk. Of course, can we really blame them? No. They had witnessed Jesus rising people from the dead. But if Jesus is dead, how can Jesus come alive again?

Benjamin Franklin once said that nothing in this life is certain except for two things. What were they?

Death and taxes. Right? But the message of Easter is that indeed one of these two things actually isn't certain. So this message of Easter, of course the Apostles didn't believe the women. If the dead don't stay dead, what can we depend upon? Right. If the dead don't stay dead, then is anything certain? Taxes. Especially in the Roman Empire, right?

You know, the women essentially proclaimed the first Easter sermon and if the measure of a sermon is action, like somebody doing something. Then the success rate wasn't all that impressive. It was 9%. Peter was the only one of the apostles who did something. The others just... were content to keep sitting around, to keep grieving. It was a major loss. The Jewish people were so convinced that Christ had come to lead them in a revolt against the Roman Empire. I've been listening to "Jesus Christ Superstar" like all week. But there's a song in particular, "Simon Zealotes," and he says like, every one of the 50,000 screaming out for Jesus, screaming love, they would do whatever Jesus asked them to.

The hope was for a messiah who would be able to lead them to certain victory.

But that wasn't what Christ did.

The apostles' imagination was limited because what Christ did was far more greater.

Christ defeated an enemy greater than even the Roman Empire. Death.

The message of Easter, which is crazy and it's kind of a relief for me that it's so crazy and that you know, even the first women only had a 9% success rate because it reminds me that my job isn't saving souls. Our job isn't to convince anyone of this craziness. All we can do is just proclaim it. All we can do is be a witness, to say, "I have seen the Lord." And I have seen the Lord work in various ways throughout my life, and I'm sure most of you have as well. It's those moments, those...

those times when you can feel God working and sometimes we can only see it when we look back just as the apostles, only after Jesus was risen, that's when they remembered his words that he had to die. And then on the third day be raised again.

Easter Is a crazy message. But boy, do we need it.

Our other passage and our theme for today is New Creation, focuses on that new creation. What does that even mean? To be a new creation?

Change? Yeah.

I think of a butterfly. Because it's, I remember reading an article about what exactly happens when the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and comes out a butterfly. The caterpillar becomes goo. Gooey.

And the caterpillar's form is completely transformed, but the DNA is the same. There's something just really interesting in that, to see such a radical transformation in something so small.

But God has given us these little glimpses all throughout creation if we know where to look for it. God has given us seasons, the rhythms between the day and the night. The message is that no matter how dark the night gets, there will always be a sunrise.

There will always be the morning.

I'll confess when I first heard about this message of transformation, I kind of remember thinking to myself, "But I like who I am. What if I don't want to be transformed? What if I don't want to lose who I am?" Let me reassure you. The transformation that occurs doesn't erase who we are.

It

reorders it. Like, when our life is... when we find our identity in Christ, everything makes sense. We become a better version of who we are. Our relationships with others in particular are transformed. I'm reminded of a little ritual that we do at a lot of weddings, where we have two candles - one representing the groom and one representing the bride - and each will take their candle and light a third candle. But we don't blow out their individual candles.

We don't lose who we are.

But there is something that happens in our relationship with Christ that brings about new life.

It, it transforms us. It transforms our relationships. And I'm convinced that it has to do with our faith that death won't have the last word. Because for so many of us, like, we are afraid of death. We don't know for sure what happens on the other side. But the message of hope that we have is so powerful that we can let go of our fear of death.

We can let go of that need to have things, to be able to ensure that we will be able to eat tomorrow.

We can be able to place others before ourselves because we know that there is enough.

God is not limited in the same way that we are.

I mean, that's all I can really say this morning. The message of Easter is insane. But it is that, even though we will die -- I mean the odds are against us. We will die. Most likely. Before Jesus returns.

But we won't stay dead. We will be resurrected.

And we will live for eternity with God.

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