Sermon for 4/5/15 Easter Sunday Mark 16:1-8

I am grateful that you all showed up today. I know that may sound trite and silly, but I mean it. And you may wonder “why wouldn’t I show up today, Pastor? It is Easter after all and I have something new to wear, so I might as well.” But by you showing up, you have said to the world, to the doubters, to one another, and to Christ: yes. Yes, I believe. But showing up today you have made a very bold statement. Did you know that? I bet you had no idea coming to church would lead to such things. But by showing up today you have said to the world, to one another, and Christ hears you proclaiming this: death will not win.

We have every reason to believe that everything we have experienced over the last 40 days isn’t real. We have every reason to believe that everything over the last 3 days isn’t real. We have every reason to believe that the tomb was never empty, that the stone was never rolled away, and that Jesus, despite everything he ever said, never rose again. I’m about to get a little political, so I want to give you fair warning. It’s easy for us to not believe that Jesus rose from the dead because about 14.7 million children live in poverty in the us and 49.1 million Americans live in households that are deemed “food insecure” meaning that they don’t know where their next meal will come from. But it’s super important to find out what emails Hillary erased.

It’s easy for us to not believe that Jesus rose again from the dead when 147 people in Nairobi, Kenya died on a college campus just this past week. But instead, the news has focused on whether or not Indiana will join the 21st century. ISIS/ISIL continues to slaughter innocent people day after day, week after week. We now have Americans attempting to leave this country to join the terror war that ISIS is waging. But let’s not focus on that. Instead, let’s focus on whether or not the deal that President Obama made with Iran in regards to their nuclear program is a good idea or not. It’s easy for us to not believe that Jesus rose from the dead when 1 in every 3 African American males can expect to go to prison in his lifetime. But that’s not important; let’s talk about who got voted off Dancing with the Stars this past week. And with all of the bad news in the world; and with people seeming to lose focus on really crucial and important things, it would be very easy for us to not show up, to not declare an empty tomb, to not declare to a hurting and hungry world that indeed, Alleluia, Jesus is risen.

But no, we didn’t do that. You showed up. You said yes. Yes, we believe that a man can rise from the dead. Yes, we believe that Jesus did just as he said he would all those times. He died, was buried, and was resurrected. And we continue to say yes. We show up week after week saying “yes.” Or we read our Bibles saying “yes.” Or we wear statements of faith (either jewelry or other signs of faith) that say “yes.” Yes, I know there are a lot of places where Christ and Christ’s intervention here and now. This is why we continue to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are beseeching the risen Christ to come among us, to turn our world upside down, to make the broken whole, to make the words “justice” and “peace” not only mean something but to put them into action.

When that tomb was empty, people who had been saying “yes” all along were proven wrong. The Roman empire was proven wrong; their yes turned into a no. The disciples were proven wrong; their misbelief turned into belief. Those who watched Jesus perform miracles finally saw that he was who he said he was. And of course people were terrified. Everything they thought was going to be normal or the status quo was just turned upside down by an empty tomb. Yes, death no longer has the final word.

And here you are, saying yes. And maybe you are here week after week, in the same pew because you keep saying yes even though everything else in the news, in the media, and maybe even your family and friends tell you that “no” is the more logical answer. Or maybe you took the risk of coming here today; having been gone for a while (maybe since last Easter) you may be unsure if you would be received as a prodigal son or daughter or treated more like Judas. Nonetheless, you took the risk to say “yes” I am going to see for myself about this risen Christ. I am not going to let anyone or anything else stop me.

We continue to say “yes” over and over and over. There is too much suffering in this world; we keep saying yes because the “no’s” will never win or have the last word. God has made God’s love known through the suffering of one man, through the death of one man, and through the resurrection of one man. And no matter how many times you think God has said no because society, your family or friends, or the negative voices that scream at you have told you that you are forgotten, that God sees you as a “no” that empty tomb answers back with a very resounding, “yes.”

It is our turn, brothers and sisters, to say “yes.” Let’s say yes to a hurting world. Let’s say yes to feeding hungry people. Let’s say yes to clothing the naked. Let’s say yes to those behind bars that society has forgotten. Let’s say yes to those who have been deemed lost or not worth saving. God said “yes” and we say “yes” in return to serving in God’s name. I want to share this with you. It’s a poem from Edwina Gateley entitled “Called to Say Yes”

“We are called to say yes.

That the kingdom might break through

To renew and to transform

Our dark and groping world.

We stutter and we stammer

To the lone God who calls

And pleads a New Jerusalem

In the bloodied Sinai Straights.

We are called to say yes

That honeysuckle may twine

And twist its smelling leaves

Over the graves of nuclear arms.

We are called to say yes

That children might play

On the soil of Vietnam where the tanks

Belched blood and death.

We are called to say yes

That black may sing with white

And pledge peace and healing

For the hatred of the past.

We are called to say yes

So that nations might gather

And dance one great movement

For the joy of humankind.

We are called to say yes

So that rich and poor embrace

And become equal in their poverty

Through the silent tears that fall.

We are called to say yes

That the whisper of our God

Might be heard through our sirens

And the screams of our bombs.

We are called to say yes

To a God who still holds fast

To the vision of the Kingdom

For a trembling world of pain.

We are called to say yes

To this God who reaches out

And asks us to share

His crazy dream of love.”

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