An hour later he was finished. He looked out at what seemed to be the smoldering ashes of men's faith. "Are there any questions?" Bukharin demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium but then one man approached the platform and mounted the lectern standing near the communist leader. He surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally he shouted the ancient greeting known well in the Russian Orthodox Church: "CHRIST IS RISEN!" En masse the crowd arose as one man and the response came crashing like the sound of thunder: "HE IS RISEN INDEED!"
I say to you this morning: CHRIST IS RISEN! (congregational response should be: HE IS RISEN INDEED!). I am convinced! I have faith that Christ was dead and he was buried. That I believe. But, this too I accept as true: He rose from the dead and will come again in glory.
This is Easter. And to stand here on this day in this pulpit and proclaim this word. . . I cannot begin to tell you how this defines all that I am.
But, you will say to me, how do you know that the resurrection is real? How do you know that it is really valid?...
That's a good parable for Easter, isn't it? Because that can so easily happen to us. We can come upon a miraculous moment like Easter... we can feel it turn warm in our hands... but then (so dulled by the routine) before we realize what we are doing... we throw it away. Absentmindedly, mechanically, nonchalantly... we toss it aside and miss the miracle of Easter.
Humor: The Gospel Has Been Proclaimed
The dean was not happy. "I'll give you another chance tomorrow, and you had better have a sermon." Again he stayed up all night; and again he couldn't come up with a sermon. Next morning, he stood in the pulpit and asked "Do you know what I am going to say?" The students all nodded their heads "yes." "Then there is no reason to tell you" he said. "The service has ended. Go in peace."
Now the dean was angry. "I'll give you one more chance; if you don't have a sermon tomorrow, you will be asked to leave the seminary." Again, no sermon came. He stood in the pulpit the next day and asked "Do you know what I am going to say?" Half of the students nodded "yes" and the other half shook their heads "no." The student preacher then announced "Those who know, tell those who don't know. The service has ended. Go in peace."
The seminary dean walked over to the student, put his arm over the student's shoulders, and said "Those who know, tell those who don't know. Today, the gospel has been proclaimed."
Steven Molin, Four Truths and a Lie
Earlier this week, a woman was called into her supervisor's office to hear that times are hard for the company and they had to let her go. "So sorry." She cleaned out her desk, packed away her hopes for getting ahead, and wondered what she would tell her kids.
Earlier this week, someone received terrible news from a physician. Someone else heard the words, "I don't love you anymore." Earlier this week, someone's hope was crucified. And the darkness is overwhelming.
No one is ever ready to encounter Easter until he or she has spent time in the dark place where hope cannot be seen. Easter is the last thing we are expecting. And that is why it terrifies us. This day is not about bunnies, springtime and girls in cute new dresses. It's about more hope than we can handle.
Craig Barnes, Savior at Large, article in The Christian Century, March 13-20, 2002 p. 16.
In the early part of World War II, a Navy submarine was stuck on the bottom of the harbor in New York City. It seemed that all was lost. There was no electricity and the oxygen was quickly running out. In one last attempt to rescue the sailors from the steel coffin, the U.S. Navy sent a ship equipped with Navy divers to the spot on the surface, directly above the wounded submarine. A Navy diver went over the side of the ship to the dangerous depths in one last rescue attempt. The trapped sailors heard the metal boots of the diver land on the exterior surface, and they moved to where they thought the rescuer would be. In the darkness they tapped in Morse code, "Is there any hope?" The diver on the outside, recognizing the message, signaled by tapping on the exterior of the sub, "Yes, there is hope."
This is the picture of our dilemma as we worship this glad Easter Day. Humankind is trapped in a dreadful situation. All around we are running low on hope, and we look for a word from beyond offering it to us. This world in which we live is plagued with war and famine, mounting debt and continual destruction. The more we try to rescue ourselves the more we seem to fall behind. We wonder: Is there any hope?
Bill Self, Is There Any Hope?
Mark Trotter, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
I've Peeked at the Back of the Book
A new pastor was visiting one of his church members who was in the hospital. The pastor was a young man, fresh out of seminary and still wet behind the ears as a minister. He was visiting this elderly man named Joe, and Joe was extremely ill. He wanted to talk to his pastor about his funeral service and the pastor wanted to talk about anything else - the weather, football, politics, or anything else he could think of.
Finally, the pastor asked, "Joe, doesn't it bother you? Aren't you frightened?" Joe smiled and said, "Preacher, I know I'm not going to make it, but I'm not afraid. I have a confession to make. I've taken a peek at the back of the book."
"What do you mean?" the minister asked.
This is the message of the first Easter and every Easter since. The tomb is empty. Christ is risen. Jesus is alive. And because of this, we too, shall live!
Robert L. Allen, His Finest Days: Ten Sermons for Holy Week and the Easter Season, CSS Publishing Company
An Enormous Answer
John Dunne writes of the impact of the resurrection upon humankind: "The Resurrection is an enormous answer to the problem of death. The idea is that the Christian goes with Christ through death to everlasting life. Death becomes an event, like birth, that is lived through."
What a magnificent statement of faith. Death is merely another event in the ongoing process of life--something one lives through with Christ. The resurrection of Jesus reinforces these words from The Wisdom of Solomon: "The souls of the just are in God's hand, and torment shall not touch them...they are at peace."