Grace & peace to you in the name of our Savior Jesus!
Today is a unique day for followers of Jesus. Yesterday in worship, many Protestant congregations, we celebrated All Saint’s Day. November 1 is the actual date for All Saint’s Day. In many Protestant congregations, we acknowledge this holy day on the closest Sunday following Reformation Sunday.
Tomorrow, at least in the United States, we will celebrate Election Day.
On the surface, these two days seem very unrelated.
I invite us to look just a little below the surface and see that these two days share a lot in common.
As we sit in the day in between this year, we have a chance to give God thanks and praise for both –
For the saints in our lives who have died in the faith and join with the eternal cloud of witnesses.
And for the saints who felt called to place their names on a ballot in the hope of being elected to serve citizens in our communities, states, and nation.
I appreciated the overview of All Saint’s Day worship that was offered in one of our church’s worship resources yesterday. “Who are the saints, and what do they have to say to us? Rather than being perfect Christians, the saints are people who have been made whole by the grace of God, through baptism into Christ. The communion of saints is a diverse array of witnesses who remind us of God’s continuing faithfulness, past, present, and future.” [from www.sundaysandseasons.org]
If that is true, which I think it is, there are saints among us who are no longer with us in this world. Yes, even those who drove you crazy…are saints.
There are saints among us, walking with us in this world each day who drive us crazy in more ways than we can count…they are saints too.
And, there are also saints who are seeking public office in a variety of ways during tomorrow’s elections. Yes, even those who you didn’t vote for…are saints.
In the Small Catechism, Luther taught us that “This is most certainly true.”
The saints of our faith journey include God’s children like friends and parents, siblings and grandparents, co-workers and cousins, aunts and neighbors.
The saints of our faith journey also include God’s children like our city and county commissioners, state legislators and district court judges, city mayors, and even those who serve in the United States Congress. And, yes, even those whom we will never choose to vote for in an election, are saints.
On this day in between two days that celebrate the saints God places along our path, maybe we can take a few moments and give God thanks today for all the saints.
Who are some of the saints in your life that you are giving thanks for today???
Until next time, may Christ’s peace be with you always and in all ways…
Easter 2018 * John 20:1-18 * April 1, 2018Easter 2018 * John 20:1-18 * April 1, 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.
So this year, Easter falls on April’s Fools Day. The last time this happened was in 1956 and there will only be two more occurrences of Easter falling on April Fool’s Day this century. In case you didn’t know this, the actual date for Easter changes each year. It’s not a set date like Christmas. If you were paying attention as we received the gospel readings over the past four days of Holy Week worship, you’ll note that scripture doesn’t tell us that Maundy Thursday or any of the other days have a specific calendar date – only a specific day of the week. After all, God’s time is not the same thing as human time. It may surprise some, but God, in fact, does not have an Apple Watch.
OK – before I keep chasing after that squirrel, let’s move on.
Since the very earliest days of the Christian movement, there’s been a very significant, and somewhat foolish I might add, greeting used to signify Easter and the resurrection. Someone will say “Christ is risen!” And someone else will say “He is risen indeed!”
Let’s try it.
Awesome! You guys are great.
BUT – wait a minute. Weren’t you listening? Why are we shouting for joy?
In our gospel reading on this Easter Day, Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved have been to the empty tomb, don’t seem to understand what is going on so they decide to head for home in order to continue their Xbox video game tournament. Or something like that.
And Mary, one of Jesus’ closest friends and someone whom I believe we should see as one of the first disciples, is weeping.
So why are you and I, followers of Jesus nearly 2,000 years later, shouting for joy?
Here’s something about the resurrection that has rested on my heart this year. Peter, the other disciple, and Mary Magdalene don’t know what’s going on – they don’t know the end of the story. At this point, all they know is that Jesus – this friend of their’s whom they thought was the Messiah – has been brutally killed just a few days earlier. They don’t see any reason why there is going to be anything more to this story than the horrific, bloody death of their friend on a cross. They have to be thinking – this is the end. Nothing more to see here. Let’s move on with our lives.
Early on this first day of the week, they come to the grave where they thought Jesus was to be buried, and he’s not there. Is that all there is to their story? Is the story of Jesus, God’s son, our Savior, over?
You and I know that death on a Friday we dare call Good, is not the end of the story. The first disciples to witness the resurrection didn’t know that, at least not yet.
As Mary is weeping, she doesn’t recognize Jesus, but Jesus recognizes her. Not because of anything she does, but because of what God does for her through Jesus.
Peter and the other disciple have no idea what is going on at the tomb “for as yet they did not understand the scripture.” Over the next few weeks in our worship life together, we’ll discover that they will begin to understand the scripture as they experience the resurrected Jesus first hand. Again, not because of anything they do, but what God does for them through Jesus.
After all of the Easter candy has been consumed – or hidden by wise parents – and the Easter dinner is over, and family and friends have returned to their homes and busy lifestyles; what does any of this mean? What does it mean to be a follower of this Jesus?
This Jesus who couldn’t even be stopped by death. This Jesus who recognizes and calls each of us by name as precious children of God – loved and claimed and freed – in spite of all of the ways that we try to turn and run from God. All of the ways that we try and put God to death expecting that we, somehow, can keep God dead.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the resurrection of Jesus is not simply a historical event that we remember each year like a national holiday or birthday. And the resurrection of Jesus is not only about some future hope that we have for ourselves and our loved ones after our earthly death.
I’m sorry, but if we focus all of our attention on a past or future event, we are completely missing the resurrection promise that’s right in front of us today. The resurrection promise of Jesus that calls us to live with a hope that we can experience and witness each and every day of our life together as part of the body of Christ. Hope that is only possible because of what God has already done, and is continuing to do for us, through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.
So don’t worry about Easter falling on April Fool’s day this year. You don’t need to ignore it. It actually might be helpful.
One ELCA pastor, Paul Lutter said – “Through his death and resurrection for us, Jesus Christ is God’s foolish power on the loose among us. Our strength is toppled by his weakness. Our wisdom is toppled by his foolishness. And we are never the same again. We are made new. We are turned upside down for the sake of Christ, who dies and is raised from death for us. We are given new identities. Marked with the cross of this foolish Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism, we are made fools for Christ.” [“Foolish Power,” Living Lutheran, April 1, 2011]
So for today, let’s greet one another as fools for Christ with foolish joy and proclaim “Christ is Risen!” “He is risen indeed!”
And just like Peter, the other disciple, Mary Magdalene and every follower of Jesus since that first resurrection day, let’s not be afraid or stand around weeping. Let’s proclaim truth every day.
The truth that God has, is, and will always be a God of resurrection. A God of resurrection that conquers every death we will ever experience. A God of resurrection that sounds foolish to some. A God of resurrection that brings forth new life, always and in all ways.
And so tomorrow, on Easter Monday, let’s continue being fools for Christ as we greet one another with joy and proclaim “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!”
And next weekend we will greet one another with joy and proclaim “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!”
And later this year, we will greet one another with joy and proclaim “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!”