A man called upon God in a time of great danger. He shouted out, “Oh God, help me!”
We have all done that. We have wanted God’s help, and we have prayed that God would be there, AND GOD WAS. That is one of the reasons you are reading this today, you are here to celebrate. Yes, celebrate – God was there with you when you called out.
In 1937 a twelve-car passenger train was speeding along in eastern Missouri. On board were hundreds of happy children on their way to an Easter church picnic. The sky was absolutely cloudless when the excursion began, but it wasn’t long before they ran into a severe thunderstorm. The heavy downpour caused the engineer some concern, so he slowed down to thirty-five miles an hour. As the train rounded a curve, the man saw that the switch just ahead had been left wide open. He jammed on the brakes, but he was sure they faced certain disaster.
“Stick with it!” he shouted to the fireman. “Hundreds of children are on board.” “I intend to!” came the reply. Then the fireman, who was a Christian, cried, “O God, please help us!” But these words were drowned out in that moment by a thunderclap as a bolt of lightning came down from the heavens and struck right in front of the train.
The next thing they knew, they were safely past the danger point. After the train stopped, they wondered HOW they had gotten past the danger point.
When they walked back, to their amazement, they saw that the lightning had closed the switch. This kept them, on that Easter morning, from being sent onto a spur which would have caused certain derailment, resulting that Easter morning would have been filled with horror and grief instead of the joy Easter represents,.
Many times in our lives the same thing has happened. It might not have been as
dramatic as a lightning bolt coming from the sky. It might have been a silent help
within you. But you know that you in some fashion were lifted out of that tomb of death.
You thought you were a goner; maybe physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially – whatever way – you thought nothing could save you. All of a sudden you were saved. You walked back, maybe in your memory, just to see what happened. Then you praised God like we are praising God on this Easter morning.
Jesus Christ taught that God is always at hand – not far off, but a God that is with you;
accessible. Jesus’ God, and our God, is a God of answered prayer; a God where so-called miracles become commonplace.
I would like to read to you a place in the Bible where Jesus summarized His teachings –
John 12:44-50. “Whoever believes in me believes not in me, but in Him who sent me, and whoever sees me sees Him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
Jesus Christ foretold His death and resurrection, but no one believed Him. No one fully
caught the significance of what He was saying or what He was trying so hard to
convey to those who followed Him.
Now, 2,000 years later, we still stand at the foot of the hill at the foot of the Cross. We watch the man Jesus dying in the afternoon and carried away into the tomb. And we hear Him saying still: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (KJV).
Now it is the third day, the first day of the week. It cannot be said any better than John brings it to us so, please, allow me to share with you the miraculous story of Easter morning
[John 20:1-10]. “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw
and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.”
Two disciples run to the tomb. These two disciples have great meaning for your life
today. Peter spiritually represents faith and John represents love. But notice what happens here. Love always precedes faith; it always goes ahead, and it does so in your life also, as you overcome the obstacles in your life.
If you are on some track (or rut) and you feel that derailment is a certainty, and you feel
there is no way out, allow your love to go ahead of you, followed by faith inside of you. You will then have courage.
Mary Magdalene, the soul who found faith and love, is now not afraid. And with love
and faith, we too can face anything.
You remember, the two disciples ran on their way to their homes, [11-18]“but Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one
at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you
weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not knowwhere they have laid him. When she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.”
The reason she did not know it was Jesus was because she was crying (almost uncontrollably); she couldn’t see. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
This is one of the happiest questions Jesus ever asked. I think it sums up Christianity. So many times we weep and we are overcome with our fear and doubts. God comes to us and says, “Hey, I’m right here. Why are you weeping? What are you looking for? I’m right here with you now – your help in every need.”
When she didn’t recognize Him, Jesus simply said, “Mary!” She turned and said to him
in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Jesus was raised from the dead. He overcame death in the body. The resurrection is the lifting up of the whole – spirit, soul, and body. The resurrection lifts up all the faculties – Divine Mind, and this renewal of the mind makes a complete transformation of the body so that every function works in Divine order and every cell becomes incorruptible and immortal.
Truly, this was the death of death in the death of Jesus Christ. Since then, the world has debated this wonder. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? But the wonder is not that He rose, the wonder is that the world could believe that it could keep Him in the tomb.
The “silent witness” for us this morning is the empty tomb. The truth is that the world cannot keep truth in the tomb. Not any truth. Not even the least truth. It never has been able to and it never will be able to.
The world can’t keep beauty in the tomb. The world can’t keep life in the tomb. The world can’t keep good in the tomb. The world can’t keep love in the tomb.
The world has mocked, stoned, poisoned, crucified, hanged, burned, and set truth before firing squads. It has buried truth and turned away, washing its hands in relief that it has gotten rid of truth so simply. But truth has never stayed in the tomb.
Even as they crucified Jesus, He was at work in people’s hearts. And He still is! The wonder is not that Jesus rose. The wonder is that the world was able to keep Him in the tomb even for three days.
The story of the resurrection of Jesus is the truest story that has ever been told. It is the essence of truth because it is the essence of life. The cross was not the end. If there is a crucifixion, there is also a resurrection. The shadow of the cross cannot obscure the light of Easter morning. We can fix our gaze on the death and the dying, on trouble, evil and imperfection, but this not the whole view. Life is whole, and to be understood, it must be seen whole.
Believing not in the truthis is like believing that the sun has stopped shining because at the moment we happen to be in darkness. The long day’s journey is not into the night. Though we move through 10,000 nights, the journey is and always has been toward a brighter day. The setting sun is but the other side of the rising sun. On the other side of the crucifixion is the resurrection.
We cannot see the full circle of the stars shining forever round the Throne of God – we glimpse them only as they pass before us one by one. Nevertheless, even from this partial view, seeing things moment by moment and little by little, we see that if there is darkness, there is also light. It is as if we climb a mountain. Sometimes to reach the peak we have to go down into a valley. But when we emerge, we are closer to the peak.
Life does not go backward. Life goes forward. Life is like Napoleon’s drummer boy. It does not know how to beat retreat. Its bugles, ever blowing requiem, sound for the living and are a call to life. When the winding of the horn has died away upon the air and pulses only in our heart, we lift our eyes to green endeavors.
Life does not move toward death. It moves toward more life. It turns death into life. It turns inanimate matter into life. It turns lesser forms of life into higher forms of life. It invents. It evolves. It shapes itself into new and ever more various creatures, with greater capacities for living. It moves from brute to human and from human to greatness. Even now the life-force is inside each one of you, pressing to outstrip itself, to surpass and overtop all that it has done so far.
There is brutality in the world, but it is love that is still growing. There is ignorance, but it is intelligence that is still growing. There is pain, but it is joy and the capacity for joy that is growing. There is resistance, but it is our power for constructive action that is growing. It is not the evil that grows; it is the good. Along the way, as we walk our path, stand many crosses where we often crucify the best and highest in ourselves. Yet we still keep coming and becoming. – (Written by James Dillet Freeman)
I want to share with you Romans 8:11: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”
Jesus said what He did we shall do also and greater words than these shall we do. What are we becoming? We are becoming the perfect person who knows her or his oneness with God, no matter how bad the track ahead looks, we have God with us and we’re not alone.
I believe that we all the perfection that is within us. This is why we all feel uneasy, frustrated, guilty and that we fall a bit short because we all feel, as Christians, we were made for perfection. This is why we long, strive, hope, and keep on. This is why we don’t let facts or failings keep us from rising up and starting out again. The perfection is inside of us.
Many times we have heard the perfection in us urge us, “Live!” Many times it has invited us, “Love!” Many times it has pressed us to keep faith through some Gethsemane we were facing ourselves. And many times, for thirty pieces of silver, we have kissed this perfection inside of ourselves and betrayed it. But perfection inside of us says in perfect love, “Though you slay me, yet I shall never die. Though I were dead, yet shall I live.”
And there it is again – to trouble us with dreams and longings; to get us not to give up even before what seems to be impossible; to stir us to believe we can do better even when we of our human eyes cannot see how; to give us heart to make yet one more try; always to make us dissatisfied with our lesser self; to let us never settle for less than perfection.
The urge to bring forth perfection beats in us like a winged bird against bars. My friends, who forged the bars? God did not. Who keeps us inside of them? God does not. We are made for living, not dying. For rising up, for going forward, for truth, for love and for joy.
The silent witness shouts loudly to us of overcoming power in the face of unbelievable, seemingly impossible circumstances. Jesus Christ’s message is that we, too, are made in the Divine image. Neither cross nor tomb can keep us from our good. We follow The Christ who is Perfection, Let us all come forth. Jesus Christ Has Risen Today!!
God bless you, Happy Easter!
PRAYER / MEDITATION___________________________________________________
One of the greatest privileges we have is to enter into prayer. We do so now.
At this sacred time, we come together for a single purpose – united prayer. The prayers that we share reach out to touch people in every corner of our world, for prayer is universal. We join our hearts and minds in the stillness. Let us unite now in praying the beautiful prayer given to us by Jesus Christ:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven .
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors;
And leave us not in temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory,
for ever. Amen.
The Spirit of Christ surrounds us as we now rest in this holy time of tranquility. We relax our minds and bodies and turn our thoughts inward to the indwelling peace. A calming peace washes over us, and we feel at one with Christ. As we dwell in the silence of prayer, we remember these comforting words of Jesus Christ: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”