Jesus is the Best Gift for the Whole World
The Gospel according to Luke, the 24th chapter:
C: Glory to you O Lord…
1 But 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. The Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise to You O Christ
Jesus is the Best Gift!
P: Let the people shout Alleluia! C: Alleluia!
P: Christ is Risen! C: Christ is Risen Indeed!
Today we joyfully proclaim that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. We shout our Alleluias and sing praises to the Lord that Jesus the Christ, the anointed one, our Messiah and Savior has defeated the power of death and given us the gift of resurrection.
But the first Easter morning didn’t start out that way. The women were grieving as they made their way to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body with spices. But instead, they saw two men in dazzling clothes –– angels – and they were terrified. Wouldn’t you be?
It wasn’t until the angels reminded them of Jesus’ words, “the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” that they believed what they thought – up until that moment – was impossible. It was the third day – and Jesus was raised from the dead.
But when they told this good and amazing news to the disciples and the others, they laughed and called it an “idle tale” – and ridiculed the women.
Except Peter… Maybe something triggered his memory…. But he didn’t laugh. He took off running and then… when he saw that the tomb was empty…he went out to proclaim the good news!
No. That’s not what he did. He went home. Amazed. But saying nothing. The end.
Except… it’s not the end. Because, if this was the end of the story, we would not be celebrating today. But, thanks be to God, the message doesn’t end there. Instead… Jesus appeared to the disciples and then to the disheartened followers walking the road to Emmaus. He reminded them of his words – and the words of scripture. And they believed. And then the Holy Spirit came and empowered the disciples and the followers of Jesus throughout the years so that today…even a child can proclaim that the BEST Gift is Jesus.
The best gift is Jesus, because Jesus, raised from the dead, has defeated the power of death and has given us the promise of eternal life with Him. So, brothers and sisters in Christ, let the people praise God and shout Alleluia!
P: Christ is Risen!
C: Christ is Risen indeed!
The disciples had been traveling with Jesus for three years. They had heard him teach that he would be rejected and die and rise again. But they had to be reminded of Jesus’ words before they could open their eyes to see the gift that God has given to us– and so do we.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Kate from the University of Minnesota Lutheran Campus Ministry spoke at a Conference meeting. She said that when students come to college, they are challenged with lots of competing values and ideas. Pastor Kate challenged us to help our young adults develop and be able to articulate an “elevator speech” – a statement short enough to clarify, in just a few minutes, what they mean when they say “I am a Christian.”
I was intrigued by Pastor Kate’s challenge for young adults, but after a conversation with our adult education class, I realized that it wasn’t just young adults that needed to have a faith “elevator speech.” We all do. We are at a time in history in which it is easy to assume that everyone knows the story of Jesus; everyone knows what a Christian is. But… unfortunately… not everyone knows the Jesus that we know. The Jesus that I know – and I hope you know -- is not coming with fire and brimstone to judge the world in anger. The Jesus that I know has already come and will come again to bring joy and the promise of resurrection and new life to all people.
But it is challenging – even for me - when asked, on the spot – in an elevator or elsewhere – why and what you believe. So… I thought, long and hard, about what would be an elevator speech about what it means to be a Christian.
We – you and I ___ are beloved Children of God who loves the whole world, and each person in it. And because of God’s love – not because of anything we have done or said - God forgives us, and makes us whole. That’s Grace. And, out of God’s great love, God gave us the best gift, Jesus Christ, to be the savior of the WHOLE WORLD. This is Good News – and God calls us to share it so that everyone may joyfully experience God’s abundant love.
This is what we can share about what it means to be a Christian. But if it’s a really short elevator, you can make it just one sentence: God loves you, forgives you and calls you to live your life as a response to Jesus’ love for you and for the whole world.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, God has given us, you and me, the best gift – Jesus, risen from the dead who forgives us, restores us and makes us whole. That is good news, Good News that is too good not to share so that the whole world may be filled with joy.
P: So Let the people praise God and shout Alleluia!
P: Christ is Risen! C: Christ is Risen indeed!
Pastor Pam Stalheim Lane
Faith-Lilac Way Lutheran Church
Easter Sunday April 21, 2019