“Resurrection Life” – 04.15.2018 Sermon

3rd Sunday of Easter * Luke 24:36b-48 * April 15, 2018

Brothers and sisters in Christ, grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus the RISEN Christ. Amen.

For the most part, all of the Easter lilies and azaleas are gone. Which for those of us with pollen allergies, we proclaim through runny noses and watery eyes, “Thanks be to God!” I imagine the last bites of Easter dinner have long been consumed. In many respects, I’m guessing that Easter gatherings are a dim and distant memory for many of us.

That’s really too bad. It’s too bad because we are STILL in the Easter season. And it’s too bad because we always are Easter people – people of the resurrection every day of our life in Christ. Not just on Easter Sunday or in the Easter season.

Image result for christ is risen he is risen indeedSo the ancient greeting that we shared with one another on Easter Sunday – at Good Shepherd or somewhere else – is still a greeting that we can share today.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Awesome – you remembered! And you better pay attention today, because we aren’t done with that greeting yet.  Is that greeting, just a greeting? Like saying hi to someone? Or maybe we think of it only as a greeting that symbolizes a philosophical or Image result for jesus country clubmetaphorical idea that people outside the church no longer understand. It’s become a way for Christians, after 20 centuries of using it, to be our secret knock or handshake to get into the Jesus country club so to speak.

Here’s the entire point of this sermon today. The greeting Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Is NOT a metaphor. It’s NOT a secret handshake. And it’s NOT simply another way to say HI to one another.

This sacred, ancient, and holy greeting is an invitation into a way of life that will change you – in this life and beyond. And maybe even more important than that, is that this way of life – following the risen savior Jesus – will bless your neighbor and change the world in ways that we can’t possibly imagine today.

You see, if the disciples were looking for a philosophical argument or a spiritual metaphor for what happened to them as they followed Jesus, that’s not what they got in the resurrection. Jesus wasn’t a metaphor. And Jesus didn’t rise from death so he could show off a clever magic trick by flying off on a fluffy white cloud into the sky.

Jesus appeared over and over and over again to his closest friends and said, “Touch me and see. Peace be with you. You know what, I’ve been dead for a few days. I’m kind of hungry, do you have anything to eat.”

“If the disciples are looking for God to be some wispy spiritual being, or philosophical concept, or metaphor, or ghost, what they get instead is the Lord of heaven and earth chewing on tilapia Galilaea.” That’s how Pastor Peter Marty describes the disciples encounter with Jesus in today’s gospel reading. He goes on to say, “Their God and ours proves to be a flesh and blood God, not a disembodied spirit. This God is vulnerable to everything that is human, including the capability of being hurt and spilling tears.” [Christian Century, March 28, 2018, pg. 24]

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

The problem I see though is that, most people in our community, even our own congregation really, and throughout every corner of the Christian world today don’t believe that truth anymore. Or at least live their lives like they don’t believe that truth.

Either they don’t know the story of Jesus or the story of Jesus has been so diluted in their life that it has no impact on how they actually live a resurrection life each day. We continue to be disbelieving and wondering as today’s gospel reading reminds us. Or even worse than that, we don’t believe anything we say or do or give effort toward is good enough or part of God working through us. God can’t possibly use me to live the resurrection – we say – I’m just an ordinary little speck in the universe. Jesus resurrection from the dead is nothing more an incredible literary metaphor from some ancient author’s story that has nothing to do with me as I struggle to live out my life in 2018.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that greeting carries with it a responsibility. A responsibility that extends far beyond simply saying hi to one another or trying to be good to yourself or someone else or successful in your school or professional career. And that greeting carries with it the weight that God’s ability to conquer death in the resurrection of Jesus has changed the world forever and will continue to change the world until the end of time.

Image result for original ideaOriginal is the title of a chapter in a great little book by Pastor Rob Bell. In it, Bell writes, “Sometimes we hold back from throwing ourselves into it” (the resurrection life) “because we think that the only work worth doing is something completely original that’s never been done before.”

And then Bell goes on to share the story of a conversation he had with someone who introduced himself to Pastor Rob by saying that he was just an insurance agent.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Bell’s story of his conversation with just an insurance agent illustrates how I believe that EVERYONE is called to live a resurrection life – because of what God has already done for us and continues to do for us through the birth, life, death AND resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“Have you ever been in a car accident and had to call your insurance agent?” Pastor Bell recalls of the conversation. “When you’re standing by the side of the road staring at the smoldering wreck of what was formerly your primary mode of transportation, you don’t want just an insurance agent to answer the phone. You want someone to answer who has given himself (or herself) to being the best insurance agent they can possibly be.

No one is just a mom, just a construction worker, just a salesperson, just a clerk – because you doing your work in your place at this time is highly original and desperately needed.

It may have been done or said by someone else. That’s a distinct possibility. It may have been done or said before.

But it hasn’t been done or said by you. It hasn’t come through your unique flesh and blood, through your life, through your experience and insight and perspective.” [How to be Here, by Rob Bell, pg. 139-140]

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

“You are witnesses of these things,” Jesus says to you and me today. Witnesses in whatever way or place or person God places in your path. Witnesses of the resurrected Jesus who is alive in the world today, tomorrow, and every other day to come. Alive in the world through you and me, just as we are and just where we are right now.

If you don’t subscribe to our church’s magazine yet or even know that the ELCA has a magazine called Living Lutheran, you really should take a look at it. There are several free copies available in the information carousels around the church each month.Image result for resurrection life

In an article from this month’s edition, ELCA Pastor Dave Daubert further points to what I believe God is trying to say through this sermon today. Daubert writes, “Be more excited about your faith; help people love Jesus more; be more active in the community; share your faith with others; love God; love people, and make sure people know why you’re doing the whole thing.” [Living Lutheran, April 2018, pg. 19]

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Thanks be to God that we get to be part of this whole thing known as resurrection life. Amen.


About Bishop Craig Schweitzer

The Rev. Craig Schweitzer, of Bismarck, was elected as bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod on July 17, 2020, in the first-ever digital Synod Assembly. A historic event, Schweitzer is the first bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to be elected in an online assembly. Bishop Craig Schweitzer began serving the Western North Dakota Synod-ELCA on September 1, 2020. He has always seen himself as an easy-going person who seeks to daily discover anew how God is present in his life and the world in which he lives and serves. Prior to service in the Office of Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod, Bishop Craig served at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, ND as Music and Worship Minister (lay staff from 2002-2010), Associate Pastor (2010-2014), and Senior Pastor (2014-2020). Beyond his service in the church, he has an eclectic background that is a diverse collection of musical, educational, and business experiences ranging from live concert production and promotion to recording studios and live performance to music education. Throughout all of his professional and personal experiences, the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Rome have been a guiding light that has kept him grounded in whatever work God was calling him into – “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) Bishop Craig is a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership. He also holds a certificate degree in Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. He was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on September 16, 2010. Outside of his life as Bishop, Bishop Craig enjoys reading, all music, a little golf, a cold beverage with friends, and intentional times of quiet. And, of course, spending time with his wife Wendy and their adult twin daughters Ilia and Taegan. View all posts by Bishop Craig Schweitzer

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