Alleluia friends, what a day to celebrate. This is Pastor Tim from Hope United Methodist Church in Hastings, Michigan. And I'd like to tell you to start off today at a narrative a story that was written by an unknown unknown author, but it's been circulating online and this story describes the very first Easter and how it might compared to today.
So that very first Easter was not in a crowded worship space was singing and praising on the very first Easter the disciples were locked in their house. It was dangerous for them to come out and they were afraid they wanted to believe the good news. They heard from the women that Jesus had risen, but it seemed too good to be true. They were living in such a time of Despair and a time of fear if they left their homes their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Did a miracle really have happened good life really have won out over death good this time of Terror and fear really be coming to an end. Alone in their homes, they dare to believe that hope was possible that the long night was over and Morning Has Broken that God's lost was the most powerful football even though it didn't seem quite real yet. Eventually they were able to leave their homes when the fear and the danger has subsided. They went around celebrating and spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love was the most powerful force on Earth. This year we might get to experience a taste of what that Easter was like. Still in our homes during to believe hope is on the horizon. Then after a while when it is safe for all the people when it is the most loving choice, we will come out gathering together singing and shouting the good news that God brings life. Even out of death that love always has the final say this year. We might get the closest Taste we have ever so what that first Easter was like, They were living in such a time of Despair and such fear if they left their homes their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk could a miracle really it happened? Does that even sounds slightly familiar to what we're going through today?
Eventually, they were able to leave their homes when the fear and the danger has subsided. They went around celebrating. It's spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love with the most powerful force on Earth. This will sound familiar to not tomorrow and probably not next week or the week after but the time will come when we can once again gather physically together to celebrate. Until then let's take advantage of every opportunity to celebrate right where we are.
I've been reading through the Psalms during the month of April and many of them have resonated with me the laments of David and other authors if they cry out to God the shouts of joy and praise the works of God are celebrated the comfort of reassuring words when the presence of God is realized. Psalm 22 points to the coming messiah in Jesus even quotes verse 15 of that chapter when he says I am thirsty from the cross n2218 isn't exact prediction of what happens to Jesus on the cross. They divided my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing. One song that is provided great comfort to me and others is Psalm 91. Let's take a listen to that now.
Those who live in the shelter of the most high will find rest in the shadow of the almighty this I declare about the Lord. He alone is my refuge my place of safety. He is my God, and I trust him for he will rescue you from every trapped and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection? Do not be afraid of the Terrors of the night nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in the darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Soy sauce and fall at your side though 10000 are dying around you. These evils will not touch you just open your eyes and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your Refuge if you make the most high your shelter, no evil Will Conquer you no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands. So you won't even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and zebras, you will crush pearse Lyons and serpents under your feet. The Lord says I will rescue those who love me I will protect those who trust in my name when they call on me. I will answer I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.
That has been a comforting song. the last few verses I'm going to repeat. The Lord says I will rescue those who love me I will protect those who trust in my name when they call on me. I will answer I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.
We live in troubled times friends. I don't need to tell you that you know that but what a comfort it is to have a resource like this. It has stood the test of time. The founder of our Methodist denomination John Wesley referred to the Book of Psalms as a rich treasury of devotion.
And a commenter has said that singing the Psalms ordered the Facebook community in Jerusalem as well as the earliest Methodist societies. Infill Calloway in his commentary said this on the book of Psalms. These are not sanitized Sunday school poems for the prayers of well-behaved people who had all their picture frames level. These are the honest cries. the honest Heart Cries of abandoned haunted train wrecked people and they're also prayers of triumphant and worship. Jesus himself love the Psalms this number 91 was one of his favorites.
He lived and died with them on his lips quoting Psalm 31:5 with his dying breath father. I entrust my spirit into your hands. And so we come to this glorious day this day of Celebration. This is the day that we read about in Luke chapter 24.
Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb taking the spices. They had prepared they found at the stone had been rolled away from the entrance so they went in but they didn't find the body of the Lord Jesus as they stood there puzzled two men suddenly appear to them closed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified involved with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn't here. He has risen from the dead remember what he told you back in Galilee. Did the son of man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and that he would rise again on the third day. And they remembered that he had sent this so they rushed back from the tomb to tell his 11 disciples and everyone else what it happened. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna Mary the mother of James and several other women who told the apostles what it happened, but the story sounded like nonsense to the men so they didn't believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping he appeared in and saw the empty linen wrappings. Then he went home again. Wondering what it happened.
I'm pausing here to take note that from the very beginning there were doubters the very beginning. The story sounded like nonsense to the men's so they didn't believe it. But did that stop the women from telling the story. Absolutely not. What does service a reminder to us to persevere in the face of doubt? The Overcomer our doubts with our face that what Jesus said. Would happen will happen.
The story continues with a walk to Emmaus.
That same day 2 of Jesus's followers were walking to the Village of a man 7 miles from Jerusalem Sansa talk and discuss these things Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them the god kept them from recognizing him. He asked them what are you discussing so intently as you walked along? They stop short sadness written across their faces. Then one of them cleophus replied. You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn't heard all about the things that have happened there in the last few days. What things Jesus asked the things that happened to Jesus The Man from Nazareth. They said he was a prophet who did powerful Miracles and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people but are leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be content condemned to death and they crucified him. We had hoped that he was the Messiah who would come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. Then some women from our group of his followers read is to earlier this morning and it came back with an amazing report. They said that his body was missing and they have seen Angels who told them that Jesus is Alive. Some of our men ran out to see and sure enough his body was gone just as the women had said. Then Jesus said to them you foolish people you find it so hard to believe that all of the all of the prophets wrote in the scriptures, wasn't it? Clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory.
Then Jesus took them to the writings of Moses in all the prophets explaining from all the scriptures the things concerning himself. By this time they were nearing a mess at the end of their Journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on but they begged him stay the night with us since it is getting late. So he went home with them. Essay, sat down to eat. He took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly their eyes were opened and they recognized him and at that moment he disappeared. They said to each other didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explain the scriptures to us.
And within the hour they are on their way back to Jerusalem there. They found the 11 disciples and the others would gather there with them and said the Lord has really risen. He appeared to Peter.
Now it's easy to to emphasize with the disciples. Was there relating their distress to the supposed stranger walking with them? After all, they'd spent years following this man who claimed to be God and now he was gone. The Betrayal they felt was crushing but we must Wonder they've spent so much time with Jesus. How could they forget what he had explained to them so many times.
In today's trouble time are we forgetting what has been explained to us so many times. Are we foolish people as well? Are we letting our fears over take our faith?
Send it to from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus head appear to them. If they were walking along the road until they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread and just as they were telling about Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. Peace be with you. He said but the whole group was start startled and frightens thinking they were seeing a ghost. Why are you frightened? He asked why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands look at my feet. You can see that. It's really mean touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost because ghosts don't have bodies as you see that I do. As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief filled with joy and wonder then he asked them you have anything here to eat. They gave him a piece of broiled sick and he ate it as they watched. Then he said when I was with you before I told you that everything was written written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets in the in the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and he said yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations beginning in Jerusalem. There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent you are witnesses of all these things. And now I will send the Holy Spirit just as my father promised, but stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven. And just like that the disciples eyes were open and they realize that their Messiah was back with them. He told the disciples been and he's telling us now but there is no reason to fear there is forgiveness of sins for all who repent. The disciples witness this in person and we witness it by reading the scriptures given to us.
Then Jesus let them to Bethany and lifting His Hands to Heaven. He blessed them while he was blasting them. He left them and was taken up to heaven. So they worshiped him and then return to Jerusalem filled with great joy, and they spent all their time in the temple praising God.
I miss Easter day. We are in our separate temples worshiping and praising God. We are Gods Witnesses today and everyday. It is my hope and my prayer that you are filled with great. Joy and take every opportunity to spread that Joy. To paraphrase the chorus of one of my favorite songs written by Matthew West and performed by Casting Crowns. We are all just nobody's trying to tell everybody all about somebody who saved our souls ever since you rescued us. You gave our hearts the song just sing and we're living for the world to see nobody but Jesus. Let's pray.
Oh God, you are Our Shepherd. You have all that we need. You let us rest in Green Meadows. You lead us beside peaceful streams. You renew renew our strength. You guide us along right has to bring honor to your name. And even though we walk through this dark dark Valley, we will not be afraid for you or close beside us your rod and your staff protect and comfort. Lord you prepare A Feast for us in the presence of our enemies you honor?
Spell anointing our heads with oil our cups overflow with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue us all the days of our lives and we will live in the house of the Lord forever. We will Shout with joy to the Lord all the Earth Lord. We will worship you with gladness. We will come before you singing with joy. We acknowledge Lord God that you are good. You made us and we are yours. We are your people the Sheep of your pasture pasture. We enter your gates with Thanksgiving and into your courts with praise we give thanks to you Lord. God and praise your name. For you are good Your unfailing Love continues forever. In your faithfulness will continue from generation to generation. Lord God we pray as you taught us to pray. Our Father who art in heaven Hallowed be your name By kingdom come thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but Deliver Us from Evil. Benign is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.