He is risen! Alleluia!

Thank you to Pastor Tyler Peil, a guest and friend of the show, for sharing one of his Easter sermons with us. This sermon was for a sunrise service. 

+In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.+

Alleluia! He is risen!

The unthinkable has happened: the dead came to life!

He died.  And He came back.

I love Easter. It’s a day of trumpets and singing “I know that my redeemer lives” and flowers and brunches and chocolate and fine wines and egg hunts and baskets.  These are the kind of things we were made for. And all of these things are fitting because this is the day that Jesus rose from the dead.  I love Easter…more now than I did before.  Let me tell you why.

Because we Christians ignore our evil and pretend it away.  We hurt someone we love and…”well, maybe he’ll just get over it.  Then I don’t have to admit I was wrong and go asking for forgiveness.”

We talk about ourselves, we go out of our way to talk about ourselves, we carefully fashion our story so that we look good.  We don’t tell our 10,000 failures.  What if everyone saw what you’ve really got hiding deep in your heart? What if we all knew exactly how you spend all of your money and your time?

We blame it on someone else.  If my boss weren’t such a…  If my wife didn’t constantly…  If my kids would only…    No one made you lose your temper.  No one made you think evil thoughts.  No one made you jealous or greedy or hate-filled.  No one made you dishonor your parents and your teachers.  No one made you skip out on church.  No one made you get drunk.  No one made you gossip about your relatives. No one made you think that you have more common sense than everyone else.  Not even the devil made you.  

Jesus flat out took the walk to the cross and no one made Him.  Just His love.  He did it by choice.  He went through hell.  And how do we love Him in return?  This pathetic life of sin is how I thank Him?

Just come to this conclusion: it’s impossible.  Even if I’ve wanted to serve Him, I’m a failure.  Admit it. You already feel that, you live it, you know it.  I sure do.

A pastor knows it more and more as he serves the people of God.  And that is why I love Easter even more now.

The pastor looks at the faces God has given him to serve and he sees one that is struggling not to drown the sorrows in a bottle, he sees another that is praying everyday for a change in his child, and another who is suffering something but she doesn’t want to say what it is, and another who is so afraid that his shame is going to be exposed, and another who is trying to hold together the marriage that has gone so wrong, and the one who has seen such darkness that they’ve thought of it just ending it all. And the pastor sees a bit of himself in all of them. 

And there is nothing he can do to fix it.  Nothing.  But he has something to show them.  In the darkness, with their pain and doubt and shame, they walk to see something unthinkable: the stone has been rolled away.  He’s not in there.  Their Savior is alive! Brother, sister, Jesus lives and if He lives then there is hope, there is always hope, there is a light in the deepest darkness.  

Very early on that first day of the week, as the sun rose, two angels shining as brightly as the sun had a new story to tell: the Son is risen.  The Light of the World is alive.  Jesus lives.  Early on the first day of every week, we bring our broken selves in here and His light shines, God’s face smiles down.  

And that is what has to stun us on Easter morning: He is not angry.  He comes back with salvation.  He is alive to forgive you. Jesus lives and so you are clean, holy and a delight to your God and Father.  Jesus lives and He holds nothing against you.  Just His loving face turned toward you.  

If Jesus is risen, then everyday is worth living.  Then there is hope even in dark days, then even in our broken and wounded lives, there is an Alleluia to march on with, because He marches with you.

And He is risen!  

The Christian people in the city of Corinth had this sad misunderstanding: Jesus is a great strength for us in life here on earth, but when you die it’s all done.  St. Paul, wrote: If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

I love Easter. Let me tell you why: because I bury people. People that I know, people I pray for.  I learn about their lives and their families.  And they die.  And I go and sit at the dining room table with their families and talk about how God worked in their lives and the promises God gave them.  And I preside over their funeral, speaking the words of Jesus to that family.  And we go to a cemetery, and once more the sign of the cross over their body.  Rest in peace, goodbye, one last time.

And sooner or later, it’ll be me.  We’re all living on borrowed time.  How long have I got?  How about you? 20 years, 20 months, 20 days, 20 minutes?  

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  No cemetery can bury this hope.  The only reason I can stand there with a family in that darkness and yet rejoice is because the unthinkable happened.  Jesus Christ borrowed our place on the cross and was dead in our tomb and He woke up and broke up the devil and hell and stood up alive with the door to heaven open.  He returned the linens and so we’ll return our graves; they are temporary.  Easter has changed it all. We will rise!

Oh the devil can’t stand it, so we keep saying it, Easter after Easter, Sunday after Sunday, funeral after funeral – I believe in the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the dead.  

In Christ all will be made alive.  Christ first; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  All of His baptized.

I know that my redeemer lives and so I will see God with this body.  Death is not the end, it is the beginning.  And even our bodies will be raised to live forever.  I will rise, in English.  EGERO! in Greek, Resurgam! in Latin, Ich werde auferstehen! in German. I will rise.  Death is the one living on borrowed time.  

The unthinkable is going to happen again: YOU’RE gonna rise.  You’re gonna RISE.  He’ll call your name.  Just like He did right here with baptismal water.

The trumpet is preaching to us this morning: it’s coming! He’s coming again!  Let the majestic sound take your mind to the day when the last trumpet sounds.  The day when Christ comes to gather up His Church – and we’re all gonna rise.  

How much time do you have left to live?  FOREVER.  He lives and I shall conquer death.  Jesus died and now He lives and rules and reigns over this whole world for us.

Rejoice.  Believe it.  Live it.  You can.  There is that much power in the resurrection.  

My life is now holy.  I am baptized into the risen Lord!  Brand spanking new shoes today, literally.  I read about a family that gets new shoes during Holy Week and they put them on for the first time Easter morning and say, “Today I walk in newness of life.”  I like that.  New shoes or not, set those baptized feet to follow your risen Lord Jesus anew today.

A pastor sees the faces on Easter and gets giddy to tell them: You’re holy friends!  You’re gonna rise, cause Jesus lives.  The peace of God is yours!

I love Easter…even more now than before.

Soak it in and sing alleluia like it’s going out of style.  He is risen! Alleluia and Amen!