Homily: Rejoice Christians, We Are Saved!
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  [Colossians 3:2]

“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

The Lord is Risen; He has risen indeed!

Rabbits and chicks, candy and baskets, and new clothes – this is what many people think of when they think of Easter.  It is about champagne brunch for adults, flowers for lovers, and baskets full of candy and other treats for children, but is this all?

When I went to Chile I arrived in time for New Year’s Eve.  The celebration was tremendous.  I was told by one of the people that, in Chile, they consider Christmas for children, but New Year is for adults.  I didn’t stop to think about this statement until I started writing this sermon, and then it struck me.  No, Christmas is NOT just for children.  It IS for adults; not the Christmas that the children may recall, but rather the true Christmas.

This is also true for Easter.  Madison Avenue and society in general may not recognize the true meaning of Easter, but we as Christians must!  Easter is THE most holy of days for us, and it separates Christians from all other religions.

I was reading the devotional we have in the Narthex, Forward Day By Day, and, specifically, the lesson for Tuesday, March 30.  In it, the writer sites the radical Roman Catholic theologian, Hans Küng:

“[Hans Küng] compares the way the various founders of the great world religions died. The Buddha departed this life surrounded by adoring disciples who realized that he was being transformed in a wonderful way as he died. Confucius died in the midst of aristocratic followers who supported him financially and hung on his every word. Mohammed died in the circle of his harem, in the arms of his favorite wife.”

The comparison with Christ is obvious. Jesus died, condemned to the most shameful, criminal death devised by Man.  He died deserted, denied, and betrayed by His own disciples.  In every way, shape, and form of this world, Jesus seemed a total failure – and yet this Man reshaped society and the world!

So what is the difference between these famous religious leaders and Christ?  The difference is love. With Buddha, Confucius, and Mohammed, they died being loved by others, but Christ died because He loves us.  In other words, the difference is that the others had love directed inward, toward themselves, but Jesus directed His love outward, towards all mankind:

“A new commandment give I unto you: that ye love one another as I have loved you,” saith the Lord.

What is the true meaning of Easter? It is LOVE.  It is not some saccharine-sweet love that you find in a greeting card. And it is not the feel-good, emotional love that many churches promote now. 
Rather, it is a love so deep and so powerful that it demanded the ultimate, sacrificial, and substitutionary death.  And what is more, the gift continues to give!  Not only did Christ die for us, He rose from the grave for us!

Think about it – did God-incarnate have to be seen by anyone when He rose from the grave?  No.  That was done for us.  It was done to prove that Jesus, in fact, DID rise from the grave.  And it was also done for us to prove that we too will have life everlasting if we believe in Christ.  Life everlasting! What an incredible gift!

This is the true meaning of Easter.  An unearned gift – grace – is bestowed on us by Christ’s actions both on the Cross and in His Resurrection and Ascension.  We Christians are gifted by God with eternal life.  All we need do is BELIEVE.  How incredible.  How humbling and awing. With such a gift in mind, every one of us should drop to our knees with tears in our eyes and shout out ALLELUIA. THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED. ALLELUIA.  Further this should not be some timid, complacent statement, but rather a jubilant exhortation that shakes the rooftop of this Chapel.

But there is more.  This great joy, this great gift MUST be shared.  We MUST let everyone know that salvation is theirs, if only they believe.  Does this mean brow-beating unwary people into submission? God forbid! It means following Christ’s commandment:
“A new commandment give I unto you: that ye love one another as I have loved you,” saith the Lord.

I do not know of any other way to put it except that we are to be joyful people because we have something that others do not.  But, as Christians, unlike the Gnostics, we are NOT to hide this great gift. No, instead we are to share it.

So, the question I have for you is, “Are you full of joy?”  Do you know what Christ has done for you?  Instead of death, we have life. Instead of our ultimate demise, we have eternity – and not just eternity, but eternity surrounded and engulfed in overwhelming and unending love!

Rejoice Christians!  We are saved! We are loved! We are prized above everything else! Rejoice!

The Lord is Risen; He has risen indeed!

ALLELUIA and AMEN!

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