What Comes After Easter?

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What’s Next?

The Sacred Story of our faith has carried us through the Season of Lent and to another celebration of Easter. We’ve explored 5 Faith Practices that can strengthen our lives of faith, build-up our families, help us raise faith-filled children and grandchildren, and even strengthen our ministry as a church. We were challenged to reflect upon Christ’s call to love each other and to live-well with each other on Maundy Thursday, and we explored what it means to love and extend compassion as we gathered in the dark shadow of the Cross on Good Friday. And then, on Easter, we witnessed the dramatic collision of grief and hope, and we were reminded that we are the carriers of a Sacred Story that has the life-giving power to change people’s lives and to shape the future of our world.

And now, we find ourselves standing in a very different part of the Sacred Story.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint [the body of Jesus.] And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the Tomb.” (Mark 16:1-2) The women who went to the Tomb had heavy hearts and grave concerns about the future. Life hadn’t unfolded in the way that they had expected, and there were many reasons to be afraid. And, when they got to the Tomb, the women experienced the totally unexpected. Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead! The empty Tomb stood as a clear sign that our God doesn’t remain silent in a world where the raging rivers of life sweep people away. And we can still celebrate that fact on Easter. We can still celebrate the fact that we have a God who comes into the world to shatter the darkness and to bring life-giving Light once again.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome could have walked away from the Tomb and said nothing. They could have very easily said to each other, “Wow! What we just witnessed is incredible, and it’s something that fills our hearts with faith!” They could have returned to their homes and families, to their friends and acquaintances, and to the places where they lived and worked without saying a word. And the Sacred Story may have ended right then and there. One of the most important things that we need to remember in the days and weeks after Easter is that, if people hadn’t continued to share the Sacred Story with each other, Easter would probably be just another ordinary day of the year—much like any other day.

What’s Next?

We live in world where Easter just IS another ordinary day of the year for many people. Easter’s a day when little children hunt for Easter eggs and eat chocolate, and it’s a day when people peel foil-covered chocolate eggs and eat yellow peeps. We live in a world filled with people who rush to the Easter buffet to get ahead of the “Church crowd,” and where schools coincidentally schedule “Spring Break” at Easter. And in that same world, we’re stunned by violence and bullying. We continue to be shocked by incidents of road rage and to be stunned by the shooting of innocent students in our public schools. We don’t always speak to each other in helpful ways, and we often walk away from people who don’t think about life in the same ways that we do. And, ironically, the Sacred Story tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised by any of that…. The Sacred Story continues to point us toward the fact that mere human beings don’t have the power to transform our world into the place that God created it to be. Secular humanism has clearly failed – and humanity’s best route forward continues to be found in an ongoing process of death and resurrection.

We have a mighty task before us as carriers of the Sacred Story.

God continues to call us to live-well with each other, to encourage each other, to forgive each other, to build each other up, and to spur each other on. Christ continues to call us to interpret our lives through the lens of the story of God’s love, and Christ continues to draw us together into a community of love where He nourishes us. Christ continues to call us to share the Sacred Story of God’s welcome, love and warm embrace in a world where people continue to divide themselves into smaller and smaller groups. Christ is a Risen Lord who continues to call us to serve each other, to surround those who struggle with our warm embrace, to feed the hungry, to spend some time with the lonely, to help people who are struggling with illnesses that we don’t fully understand, and to be a voice for those who have no voice in a world that’s content to simply leave them in the dust.

What’s Next?

St. James once wrote: “Be doers of the word, and not just hearers only” (James 1:22); and, I believe, that that’s the great mission that’s set before those who see themselves as Easter people. The Sacred Story reminds us that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome could have walked away from the Tomb and said nothing—but they didn’t do that because they knew that they had something important to share with the world. The women who came to the Tomb on that first Easter morning could have easily said, “Wow! What we just witnessed is incredible, and it’s something that fills our hearts with faith!” And then, they could have returned to their homes and families, to their friends and acquaintances, and to the places where they lived and worked without saying a word. And the Sacred Story may have ended right then and there.

How will you be changed by the Sacred Story’s proclamation of Christ’s victory?

We live in a world filled with little children who are being taught that hunting for colored eggs, eating chocolate, peeling foil-covered chocolate eggs and biting the heads off yellow peeps is what Easter is all about. We live in a world filled with children who are being taught that they need to rush to the Easter buffet, so that they can get ahead of the “Church crowd”—and we’re teaching those same little children that Easter is nothing more than an excuse for a “Spring Break.”

Will we, as God’s people, allow that trend to simply continue unchallenged, or will we continue to understand that we are the carriers of a Sacred Story that speaks of hope and new life in the face of life’s great unanswered questions?

What’s Next?

Where’s God in Tough Times?

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I’ll always remember April 9, 2014.

Early that morning, a young man walked into our local high school and stabbed twenty of his classmates before the day even began. I’ve always struggled with things like that because they just don’t make sense. But even more than that, I struggle with those kinds of things as a “man of faith” because I can’t figure-out why God doesn’t just step onto the scene and stop senseless tragedies. Where is God when crazy and unexpected things are happening in the world? Where is God when hurricanes destroy the lives of innocent people and when a gunman shoots hundreds of people from a hotel window? That’s the question that we consider in this week’s message: “Where’s God in Tough Times?”.

It’s easy to imagine God as a great comforter in the midst of tragedy, but it’s harder to see God in people who say, “What’s going on right now isn’t right, and this is what we need to do to set things straight.” It’s easy to see God in all of the helpers who extend themselves to those who have been injured, but it’s harder to see the Christ in the faces of the people who are suffering. And yet, God’s found in all of those places.

“Where’s God in Tough Times?” is a message that’s been written to help you to see God’s presence in places where people don’t usually look during difficult times. It’s a message that calls us to look for God’s presence in places where we usually miss God when things in our lives and in the world get crazy. “Where’s God in Tough Times?” is a message that will help you to start seeing God in four different places during difficult and challenging times, and it’s a message that might even help you to see how God can use you to help our world become a better place.