Devotional Message for Easter Sunday; Year C (4/21/2019)

REVISED COMMON LECTIONARY TEXTS

Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (24)

1st Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43

St. Luke 24:1-12 or St. John 20:1-18

Prayer of the Day

O God, you gave your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, that we may live with him forever in the joy of the resurrection, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

24:1 On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.”

St. Luke 24:1-12 New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Message: Christ is Risen, Indeed

I have never visited a space that proclaimed the resurrection of Christ in quite the same way as did the nave at Notre-Dame de Paris. My family and I were blessed to visit there in the winter of 2006. We spent some time during the afternoon of Ash Wednesday wandering around as tourists, admiring the dramatic architecture, and taking in the vast array of artwork. We returned that evening for their Ash Wednesday liturgy. The service was conducted, of course, in French and Latin, so there was a good deal of content that slipped by us. But to enter into the four-fold shape of the mass, to be marked with ashes, and to soak in the other-worldly beauty of the chancel choir, was an experience I’ll never forget.

I was struck, upon leaving Paris, how this sacred place must have shaped the way its worshippers envisioned God. The towering columns, the vaulted ceiling, the breathtaking stained glass windows, the statuary and other artwork — it all proclaimed the power and majesty of God. Of the many great cathedrals we visited in Europe, this place felt the most sacred to me — a stirring testimony to resurrection faith, and the difference God has made in the lives of believers, century after century. It is heartbreaking to think of the damage done to Notre Dame by yesterday’s fire. At the same time it is inspiring to see, already, the generous offers of support from so many who are hoping to provide for its restoration. I hope, one day, to worship there again.

This coming Sunday most of us will gather in much more modest surroundings, but the message we share will be every bit as extraordinary. As we cry out together, “Christ is Risen! Christ is risen, indeed!” we too will proclaim our resurrection faith. We will remember how the women made their way to the tomb on that first Easter Sunday morning. We will remember the words of the two angelic messengers. We will remember the reactions of those perplexed witnesses: fear, amazement and disbelief. In doing so, we will offer our testimony to the ways God has made a difference in our lives. We will share aloud our trust in a God who is greater than even death itself. We will celebrate the fact that we can entrust our future to a God who loves us enough to die for us.

There are a few turns to take before we come to that that day. If you are in town, please join us for the Triduum Worship Service (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday). If you read from some distance, I hope you will find a place nearby to do the same. And as we wait for the day to come, I’ll offer this greeting to you (some five days early, but as heartfelt as can be): “Have a happy and blessed Easter. The peace of the Lord be with you all.” 

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel

  1. What are Mary, Joanna, Mary, and the other women expecting to find when they reach the tomb?

  2. What words of Jesus did they remember at the prompting of the angelic messengers?

  3. After remembering, what is the very first thing that they do?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel

  1. What is it about Easter that causes my heart to sing with hope?

  2. When have I found myself amazed at what God is doing in my life?

  3. How might I go and tell others what I believe about Easter Sunday morning?