April 21, 2019 Easter Sunday

April 21, 2019 Easter Sunday Year C  ”God’s honest Truth”

Christ is Risen! (He is risen indeed).  Say it like ya mean it people!  Christ is Risen (HE IS RISEN INDEED).  Hallelujah, Thanks be to God.  You know Christians around the globe are celebrating this day, Christians throughout the centuries have celebrated this day.  Hallmark puts it on their calendar’s and Google does its artwork and Facebook posts share it on their network and twitter is no doubt tweeting in some way or form about CHRIST IS RISEN- (don’t go to sleep on me already)

And here we are settling in to hear once again the surprising ending to the life of a first century itinerant rabbi who claimed to be God’s son.  His life’s story does have a surprise ending but it isn’t just a story.  Its an account. 

If you’re here to hear a story… so sad, too bad.  But I’m here to give an account- to repeat the testimony of eye witness accounts, in order to settle an account.  To proclaim, my “God’s not dead he’s surely alive is living on the inside roaring like a lion.” To give account to risen Lord who lives in me.  And He can live in you.

I left a former Lutheran church body because the pastors I fellowshipped with were very particular to call Jesus’ rising from the grave the resurrection “story.” I questioned them about hearing some “quotations” around resurrection.  I actually challenged them, by saying “it’s an account, of a historical event, not some “story.”  They said,” Do you really believe, having done so many funerals that folks come back to life?  It is an inspiring story that helps humanity strive toward a greater and better society.”  My response to those pastors was “Excuse me, you think what we’re doing here is perpetuating a lie for the greater good?”

No wonder Christianity is dying out in America yet growing around the world.  In places where Christians must put their lives on the line for answering the question, “do they believe the account of Christ’s resurrection or not?!” is where Christianity is growing.  Where the resurrection for Christians has devolved into a nice story, a helpful bed time story, Christianity is shrinking by the droves. 

When it comes down to brass tacks, this is truth and this truth is worth more than anything else in the world.  Persecute Christians around the world get that and don’t question that.  Because they have to make that choice deep down every day.  They say the only way for an addict to stay sober is to make that choice each and every day.  Keep making that choice every 24 hours and don’t worry about the past 24 hours or the next 24 hours just live in this day and make the right decision today.  That and rely on a higher power.  You could say that is what Christians all over the globe have to do each and every day.  Perhaps that challenge is what keeps Christianity vibrant and growing in those areas and perhaps why we who have it so much easier find it easier to walk away from the faith.

As a senior pastor of a church in Colorado we were pleased to call an associate pastor from Ethiopia.  Pastor Ebassa who was barely thirty told of his growing up as a Christian in Ethiopia.  He grew up hiding on the flat roof of their house in the middle of the night when communist soldiers, radical muslims would come to kidnap and enlist young males into their armies.  It wasn’t safe to be a Christian.  Being Christian wasn’t an occasional convenience it was a daily conviction.

But how do we in a country blessed with freedoms where we’re not challenged daily about our faith make it more of a conviction than a convenience?  I think the first thing is to confront the age old question “Is Christ risen from the dead?”  Is Jesus who he said he was “The Son of God?”

C.S. Lewis the great professor of Oxford and Cambridge said we need to realize we can’t say Jesus was a nice guy.  Jesus doesn’t give us that option He’s either lunatic or savior. 

Its Easter, I hate to be confrontational but are you suffering a lunatic or celebrating a savior?  I have out in the fellowship hall a little book called “The case for Christ” for anyone that wants to investigate the story as to whether it could actually be a real-life account.  It was written by an award-winning journalist from Chicago who accepted the challenge of investigating whether or not Jesus’ resurrection was a “story” or an account- true or false.  His fact-finding investigation caused him to convert to Christianity.

We’ll give you the book… it was made into a movie 2 years ago.  If that book or movie isn’t good enough for you, I have another suggestion.  Better yet there’s a good book, THE good book that has a wonderful collection of eye witness accounts. 

What does it mean when we learn the truth- Christ is resurrected?  What difference does it make?  Well, first of all a very popular phrase becomes passé “YOLO”- You Only Live Once is untruth.  There is more to our existence than the short time we have on this earth. 

Christ’s resurrection means that God has a plan for our life.  It means that there is a way to God that doesn’t depend on our achievements, background, ethnicity, sexuality, bank account, background check… it only depends on our heart.  It means forgiveness is real- God can forgive a monstrosity of wrongs: betrayal, denial, murder!  It means new starts are possible- lives headed to the gutter can be redirected, marriages headed to the trash can be mended. All this is impossible for humans, but as scripture witnesses to “with God truly all things are possible.” Because we proclaim Christ is Risen! (He is Risen Indeed!)

There is a lot at stake on whether Easter is a story or an account.  If its a nice story than all that forgiveness, new starts, mended lives is just a nice fairy tale.  Yet Christ’s resurrection as an historical truth, as well as a trustworthy foundation of faith and…” with God all things are possible.”  Which is it going to be? Is the resurrection a fabrication of useful guidelines or the very foundation of God’s honest truth?  Was Jesus a lunatic or a savior?

Some folks would suggest a survey to solve the issue I truly suggest good solid research like the one done by this journalist and thousands more like him.  But since we don’t have time for that right this moment, I’ll settle for a survey.  What is your response to this statement?  Christ is Risen (he is risen indeed) nice to see we still have Christians with a conviction.  And if you’re sitting in these pews not convinced, struggling to decide… there’s some good news there are folks sitting right next to you that have struggled with the same questions and are willing to share with you the God’s honest truth about why they know “Christ is Risen”…He is Risen indeed.

Please join me in prayer:  God we live in a world of fake news and photo shop, its so hard to believe much of anything today.  Help us to realize that some things are worth believing in and God’s honest truth is the best to believe in.  Open the hearts of the unbelieving and guide the minds of the doubters (so I’m praying for all of us cause we all have our moments of unbelief and doubt) open and guide us to the God’s honest truth that your son died and rose again to set us right with you, to set us a place in your kingdom here on earth and in the life to come.  Amen.