Sermon – 04-16-17 – Easter Sunday – Cycle A
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:1-6; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 28:1-10
Sermon Title: “From Troubled Soul to Glorious Overcoming!”
Once a woman lost a coin. She swept every corner of her room. She lit a lamp to look for the coin. The coin was of more value than a penny is to us today. She probably was holding her breath. Sweep. Sweep. Glare into the shadows. Move the lamp. I am guessing that she searched the whole room until she finally came to the place where the coin lay. Rejoicing happened! From Troubled Soul to Glorious Overcoming!
Once a shepherd lost one sheep from a flock of 100. The intended action with the whole flock came to a halt. Off goes the shepherd to find this lost one. Hanging on a cliff, there was the lost sheep. Using his staff, the shepherd gently maneuvered the curved top around the body of the frightened sheep and pulled that precious being to himself. The lost is found. Rejoicing happened! From Troubled Soul to Glorious Overcoming!
What else was lost? Oh, a son! A wayward son wanted to know, wanted to experience, wanted to have knowledge about life beyond the farm – a rather prosperous farm. Sounds a bit like Adam and Eve to me. There was this tree – the tree of knowledge. Well, the son learned his lesson and in humility came home begging to be received as a farm hand, not even as son. But the grieving father did not even hear that idea. Rejoicing happened. From Troubled Soul to Glorious Overcoming!
What about Adam and Eve? Where is the rejoicing? We don’t read that life became glorious for them, do we? Their temptation, their misjudgment seemed to keep them in darkness, in agony for generations! This is where Easter arrives in the picture, in the timeline. Adam represents the dark; Jesus represents the light – the glorious overcoming.
Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation. Jesus did not succumb to temptation. Satan was involved both times. Adam and Eve should not be our models. We need Jesus to be our model. This is not to say that the power of Jesus to overcome temptation will transfer to us just because we claim him as our model. Satan is still alive and well in our lives; not just to other people who walk in darkness, but to us. We will never be without sin. There will be dark spots in our lives – sometimes these spots are large as football fields or an ocean liner. Hidden darkness until we are negligent and there we are; caught in sin. Darkness casts its shadows over us; first, lightly; then with a heavy vengeance.
We think of our baptism as dying with Jesus. But, just as Jesus rose from death into new life, so are we raised with Jesus. It is a bonding that God offers to us. We can stay in the darkness of hurts we have caused. We can stay in the darkness of the hurts that were thrust upon us by fellow humans who were under some cloud of despair or unthinking unkindness. Or, we can rise with Christ. We can shed our old shells; we can find our wings; we can take our cue from nature.
God designed us to move from the protection of the womb, from the protection of the shell, into the world of light. “Aha” we say. “Why am I not finding the light? Why is my soul so downcast? Why am I missing the joy that is supposed to be in my heart?” I wonder that myself. I am not a bubbly, happy person. I praise God for the rare times that a song is singing in my head while my friend sings everywhere she goes. But I do know joy! I am exhilarated with light.
When I find a lost item, I rejoice. From Troubled Soul to Glorious Overcoming! Especially when I have lost my small purse with all my cards – all of my cards!!! I want to shout it from the opening door of the grocery store as I leave that store waving my little black purse with the brown leather strap! To God be the glory!
When depression grabs us, all is dark. The windows could be accepting bright sunlight, but it is dark around us. When God and people deliver us from the darkness, we want to dance and rejoice. From Troubled Soul to Glorious Overcoming!
I caused a snapped relationship . . . this schism happened in front of a group . . . troubled soul I had for four nights and days. Then came the joyous light. Sunday morning came and all was wonderful; better than I ever deserved! I felt as if a stone had been rolled from my heart. To God be the glory!
If we had been one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, when did we break the connection with our loving Savior? Suppose we had been Peter – yes, remember his three denials and then the cock crowed! Remember that it was Peter who cut off a soldier’s ear when Jesus said something like, “Nothing doing. We will not be cutting off ears.” Remember, it was Peter who wanted to enshrine Moses, Elijah, and Jesus in little shelters, like booths, so the moment of Transfiguration would not be lost. Jesus said something like, “Nothing doing. We are not going to stay here. I have things I must do, like dying so that you might live in the heavenly kingdom when it is your turn.”
In the accounts of Jesus revealing himself to his disciples after the resurrection, we find Peter being forgiven by Jesus three times – no accident were the three. Peter denied three times. Peter is forgiven three times. “I do love you,” Peter needed to say three times. “Then take care of my sheep,” said God.
What about Judas? Oh that we would not have done his betrayal act. But think! Have we betrayed Jesus by doing something rather on the stupid side, on the careless side, on the selfish side? Dark times follow. But had Judas lived, he would have heard Jesus explain that God was the scriptwriter, and God was the director. The climax of the drama is forgiveness. Yes, that light, heady, overwhelming feeling of forgiveness. That dark, heavy garbage bag of regrets and sins dissolved into nothing – yes, dissolved. The bright light and the beauty of the earth are beyond measure and our hearts soar with delight.
What about Thomas who doubted? Everything came to a stop until Jesus took time to let Thomas see those hands for himself. Then there was Mary, the mother of Jesus. We read of no sin connected to Mary. Could this be? Depending what nature of faith we follow, this is not a surprise. Scripture does not inform us of any sin from this precious woman. It would seem that following and watching her son’s three years of ministry, would be torture enough to pay for any sins. Then again we believe that forgiveness is free and not earned. If we had been Mary, how dark and tortured would we have felt? Betrayed by God? Thirty-three years of thinking more would come of this divine child.
Then whamo – out of the dark tomb; into the light, into the glorious light. The world is okay again. The nightmare is ended! Glorious Overcoming! Enter the Resurrection Day for all time!