Good morning! Happy Easter! I have two sermons to post this morning. This is from our sunrise service at Redway Plain in Rehoboth.
He is risen, indeed!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
April 4, 2021
How Can We Proclaim The Good News
About two months ago, at a Deacons meeting, someone said to me, “We aren’t doing a sunrise service in-person this year, are we?” I paused, thought for a moment and then said, “I am not ready to start planning it; and yet I am not ready to not start planning it, either”.
You see, pandemic-aside, so much about the Easter story is about people showing up – in person, in the flesh – to bear witness to the resurrection. Mary Magdalene is the first to show up in this story; she comes to the tomb early in the morning and realizes that the stone has been rolled away. But it does not end there; she runs and grabs Simon Peter and another disciple and tells them what she saw and so they then run to the tomb to see for themselves. They, eventually, return to their homes, but Mary remains at the tomb where, eventually, she has an encounter with the Risen Christ.
Now we have figured out a lot of ways do church in different ways this year – some ways that have involved no direct contact whatsoever – and so many of them have been so meaningful to us and I am so grateful for them. They have been my lifeline and the pulse of this community that has continued to beat strong throughout this entire pandemic.
By my goodness, nothing beats being with you all here, in person.
Like I said in my words of welcome, to quote Simon Peter – who later will run to the tomb and bear witness to the fact that it is, indeed, empty and that death was not victorious – “it is good for us to be here.”
It is good for us to be here so that we can stand in one another’s presence, not only bearing witness to the resurrection, but to one another’s faith, as well.
It is good for us to be here so that we can look one another in the eyes and see a tangible sign of the hope that we have been holding onto this whole year; that we are not alone.
It is good for us to be here so that we can finally hear, again, the chorus of our voices joined together as we sing and pray and rejoice in the bold and radical truth that Christ has risen and that love has won.
And it is good for us to be here so that we can figure out how to do this again; so that we can learn what it means to eventually transition our community to both online and in-person. You see, the Easter story is not just a narrative of resurrection, but also about those who bore witness to the resurrection and how they then proclaimed it.
Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter and the rest of the disciples – these were people living in a very specific place and time in this world and so they had to figure out how to tell that story within the context of their world.
And this is what we have always done; but guess what? Our world has changed. It is continuing to change. And part of our call as Christians – as people of the resurrection – is to tell this story the way the world needs to hear it now.
Yes, this story is about resurrection, but it is also about innovation and tenacity and a faith that moves mountains and believes in the impossible. It is about not giving up; about sticking it out at the tomb until the Risen Christ shows up. It is about finding others to help you figure out what is happening. And it is about then proclaiming to the world, “I have seen the Lord.”
And so here we are this morning – together! It is so good to be here with you all. While I am grateful for all of the ways that we have made church work this past year – and I will continue to be grateful for the ways we will be able to connect with people online in the future – it feels right to be here.
To show up, in the flesh, the way that Jesus did.
To name resurrection and to believe that it is real.
And then to go and tell others what we have seen.
I have to be honest, when we had that conversation at the Deacons meeting about the sunrise service, I honestly had no idea what was going to happen on Easter morning. For someone who is a bit of a control freak when it comes to planning, that felt kind of weird. But I also felt at peace about it, knowing that part of being faithful, especially during this pandemic, is stepping back and letting God take care of some of the details.
I actually kind of think that is what happened on that first Easter.
So, given the fact that we have had the opportunity – with protocols in place to keep us all as safe as possible – to come together and physically be with one another on this beautiful Easter morning, as we leave this space – this space that feels unfamiliar, and yet so familiar at the same time – I invite you all to figure out with me just how to tell this story right now. How can we, members and friends of our beloved church in the village, in the year of our Lord 2021, proclaim the Good News of resurrection?
For it is Good News.
Christ is risen, friends! He is risen, indeed.
Thanks be to God!