Easter Worship 2022

Acts 10:34-43

34Peter began to speak to [the people]: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1Give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good;
God’s mercy endures forever.
2Let Israel now declare,
“God’s mercy endures forever.”
14The Lord is my strength and my song,
and has become my salvation.
15Shouts of rejoicing and salvation echo in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord acts valiantly!
16The right hand of the Lord is exalted!
The right hand of the Lord acts valiantly!”
17I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord. 
18The Lord indeed punished me sorely,
but did not hand me over to death.
19Open for me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter them and give thanks to the Lord.
20“This is the gate of the Lord;
here the righteous may enter.”
21I give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and you have become my salvation. 
22The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23By the Lord has this been done;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 24:1-12

1On the first day of the week, at early dawn, [the women] came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When was the last time you were really and truly astonished by something? When was the last time you felt honest to goodness awe and wonder? Awe that stopped you in your tracks and left you dazzled and amazed?

When was the last time you felt moved to the core of your being by anything?

Has it been a while since you were moved by the awesome wonder of something?

Frankly most of us – especially us grown-up types – stink at this whole “awe-business.” By the time we can vote – we have become jaded – even cynical.

Awe gets lost in the bill paying and the working and the lawn mowing and the laundry folding and the errand running.   Who has time for awe when there is Wordle and web surfing and Facebook scrolling to keep us busy and distracted?

Perhaps – we might find time for a little awe – once a year – when we are on vacation – but probably not. Besides it feels like awe is for naive toddlers and pre-schoolers.   That awe is for poets and quirky artist types. But awe isn’t for card-carrying – responsible adults like us.

But we miss out on so many of life’s blessings when we shut our hearts and souls off to awe.

Our God wants us to experience awe and wonder and amazement.

Think about the beauty of a gorgeous sunrise.   It can be VERY easy to miss a beautiful sunrise as you hurry around getting ready for your day. But if you take just a moment – to pause – to watch and observe – you might just be blessed by a moment of awe and wonder as you watch the sky turn a dazzling rainbow of colors.

Or think of an actual rainbow. There was a stunningly beautiful rainbow over Fern Creek just two weeks ago that had me standing in awe on our front porch watching the colors ebb and flow and brighten and dim and change and shift.   It was glorious! And it was just what I needed on what had been a pretty tough day.

Or how about the wonderful delight of a delicious piece of Easter candy. If you take the time to appreciate it – even a single piece of candy can be pretty amazing.

What about the sound of laughter? Have you listened to how beautiful it is when someone you love gives a great big belly laugh? It is so cool! Seriously – it is awesome!

Or how about simply taking a moment to notice the amazing wonder that is your own hand. Look at your hand! Open and close it. Pick something up. Think about all of the wonderful things your hands will help you do today – this week – this year. Seriously – your hands work hard all day – every day – doing thousands upon thousands of things for you. Hands are awesome and amazing and they just hang-out down there at the ends of our arms 24-hours a day ready to help us whenever we need them. Most of the time we don’t even think about them.   But I assert our hands are amazing – awesome miracles!

What about Easter? Have you thought about the awesome miracle of Easter lately?

We Christians need to be very careful that we don’t miss out on the awe of Easter – just because we have heard the Easter story once or twice or 40 or 60 times before.

It is easy to do. We can get used to things. We take the familiar for granted.

The Gospel of Luke tells us when Peter arrived at the empty tomb on the very first Easter morning and after he saw the linen cloths by themselves – Peter went home “amazed” at what had happened.

Peter was amazed by the empty tomb. Peter was awestruck by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

What about you? Are you amazed by what happened that very first Easter morning?

Are you awestruck? Are you amazed by the empty tomb?

Are you moved by Jesus’ death on that Roman cross?

Are you dazzled by the awesome miracle of your Lord and Savior being raised from the dead by God the Father?

Are you capable of being rocked to the core of your being by these wondrous – amazing – awesome events?

Think about it for a moment. Jesus died on a cross for the forgiveness of your sins.   Not for his sins – but for your sins.   Jesus loves you so much that he willingly chose to die for you. Imagine being willing to die for someone else. Imagine that kind of love. That kind of love is hard to comprehend. That kind of love is truly an awesome miracle.

And the miracles of Easter are just getting started with this amazing – dazzling gift of love and sacrifice. Because the empty tomb means Jesus did not stay dead.

On that very first Easter morning – God the Father raised Jesus from the dead to eternal life.

And in this we see a glimpse of our future and of God’s promises to us.

Death has been conquered. And sin has been defeated.   Jesus’ own innocent death on the cross and his resurrection three days later broke the bonds of eternal death forever!

In Jesus’ empty tomb – we see that God’s grace – love – and mercy have triumphed over sin and death. God’s love and God’s mercy are stronger than sin and death.

Talk about awe inspiring Good News!

Well actually – it is awesome – amazing – earth shattering – life transforming – mind blowing news! There is simply no news better than this.

Sin and death have been defeated!

Death does not have the last word with God.   Life is the last word. Just as Jesus lives you too shall live.

And so today we are celebrating Easter.

Today is a day for awe and amazement! And joy and celebration! And laughter and smiles!

Death and sin have been defeated!

And that is some seriously AWESOME news!   AMEN!

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