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April 11, 2004

Easter, 2004

(Luke 24:1-12; John 20)

Happy Easter everyone! We celebrate the greatest day of the year, the greatest day in history, the day that changes everything for us. I just want to say three little things.

First, Jesus has been raised from the dead and rolled away the stone and is alive and well which means that everything he did was right, that all his teachings were right, that God affirms everything he said and did, that Jesus is indeed the beloved of God and that his commandments are the Word of God, which means that as his followers, God really wants us all to say and do the things he said and did, to love and serve and forgive one another as Jesus. So from now on, Jesus is the center of our lives.

Second, with the resurrection of Jesus, we realize that everything the world claims is wrong. Death does not get the last word. Death has no power over the God of life. Death is not the end. No matter what happens to us, even if we die, as followers of the risen Jesus, we too will rise and share the new life of his resurrection. Our survival is guaranteed. We have nothing to be afraid of anymore. We no longer cooperate with death and the forms of death, from hatred and gossip and resentment to violence or war. We are not people of death.

Instead, finally, from now on, we are people of life, people of eternal life, Easter people, people of the resurrection, people who look to the risen Jesus, people who know that Jesus is alive, people who follow him on the road to resurrection. So I invite you to begin fifty days of the Easter season, and to ask the risen Jesus to give you his Easter gifts of joy and peace, to rejoice at the resurrection of Jesus as the first disciples did, and to hear Jesus call you to share in his resurrection. I wrote out a little litany for us:

To whatever part of you is dead, today the risen Jesus says, “Rise and live.”

To whatever part of you is in despair or depressed or sad or ill, today the risen Jesus says,
“Rise and take on hope.”

To whatever part of you is stuck in fear or anger or resentment or revenge or hurts or
apathy or indifference, today the risen Jesus says, “Rise and receive my love and
live in my compassionate love.”

To whatever part of you is stuck in lies or cynicism or gossip or putting others down or
heavy burdens or greed or the culture of death or violence or empty patriotism or
deadly American warmaking, today the risen Jesus says, “Rise and welcome my
reign of love and nonviolence and truth.”

To whatever part of you is stuck in doubt or worry or anxiety or loneliness or grief or
sorrow, today, the risen Jesus says, “Rise and from now on, live in the new life of
resurrection and receive my Easter gift of peace and joy.”

Happy Easter!

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