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Easter Street
based on Isaiah 65:17-25 1 Corinthians 15:19-26 John 20:1-18
Broadway Presbyterian Church Sedalia, Missouri Rev. Jeffrey K. London

I. Introduction Every year at this time we preachers really struggle with how to re-tell the familiar Easter Story. How to share the Good News of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and draw meaningful connections to everyday life in the process.

In some ways I think it is quite enough to stand up here and joyfully proclaim, “He is Risen!” and then sit down. Enough said! But to do just that would be to assume that we all know who “He” is and that we all know what “the Resurrection” means for us and the whole of the world. I’m not sure that I, that we, can make that assumption. I’m not sure that we really understand what it means to be saved by grace through faith. I’m not sure we really understand what it means to be justified and sanctified. I’m not sure we connect the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with our everyday lives in any useable, meaningful ways. I’m not sure any of us really understand Easter to be a way of life, rather than simply one day of the year.

II. Easter Street I took a break from contemplating these questions late in the week and went outside. My son, Alex, was learning how to ride his bike without training wheels. There he was being cheered on by his mother and his visiting grandparents when he took a pretty good spill. I ran over to him and dusted him off. He was okay, but he asked to me run beside him the next time. I agreed and off we went. Alex was doing fine and I was having a hard time keeping up with him when SUDDENLY a great light appeared before my eyes! So bright was the light that it brought me to my knees. I put my hands in front of my eyes and tried to peer through my fingers when I felt someone grab me by the collar and pull me to my feet. As I stood up the light became less intense and I could see that this person who had me by the collar was a woman. She shook me and said to me over and over again, “I have seen the Lord! I have seen the Lord!”

I didn’t even have time to think before she took off in a sprint. I followed her but she was fast, it took me a while to catch up to her. She had a white sweatsuit on and a pair of Olympic style track shoes. When I finally caught up to her I said, “Who are you?” She told me her name was not important but that her message was: “I have seen the Lord!” she exclaimed.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“Easter Street!” she replied.

“Easter Street?”

“Yes. We’re on Easter Street. We’re always on Easter Street, but not everyone knows it. My calling,” she said, “is to tell people ‘I have seen the Lord!’ That’s the message of Easter Street.”

It was about at this point that I realized something strange about myself. I had been carrying on this conversation and running at top speed and I was neither tired nor out of breath. I asked the woman about this condition and she said to me, “On Easter Street you shall mount up with wings like eagles, you shall run and not be weary, you shall walk and not faint; for the Lord has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may sustain the weary with a word.”

As we moved along Easter Street I began to see people stopped along side the road. The woman kept up her joyful proclamation. No one escaped her getting right in their face and announcing, “I have seen the Lord!” But for some strange reason many of these people either didn’t hear or didn’t understand, or didn’t want to hear. Many of them simply ignored her. Others just looked puzzled. Others rolled their eyes and turned away. Still others were so busy chattering with one another they didn’t even notice she was there, let alone hear her proclamation of Good News.

I tried to listen in on a few of these chattering groups to see what was so engrossing as to keep them from hearing the woman’s message. I was shocked by what I heard. The first group of chattering people stood on one side of Easter street shouting across the street, “God will not love you if you don’t first love him!” On the other side of Easter Street stood another group of people who were shouting back, “No! That’s not it! God will only love you if you’re obedient! If you do good works!”

Neither side of the street heard the woman’s proclamation of Good News. They were too busy arguing with one another. So we moved on. I asked the woman about those people and what exactly were they arguing about. The woman told me that those people were stuck along Easter Street. She said, “Those are people who can’t seem to come to terms with God’s great free gift of grace. They won’t surrender themselves. They feel like they have to do something or be something special to earn God’s love. They simply will not accept the no-strings-attached Good News that God loves them and everyone else. They cannot bring themselves to accept the Good News that God knows them and their sinfulness and has accepted them anyways, despite their sin, despite their unworthiness. Those are people,” said the woman, “who cannot understand that Easter Street is not about what we do for God...but what God has done for us.”

As we ran on, I saw another group of people. This group of people stood alongside Easter Street all bent over and crying 1000 tears. The woman’s proclamation of “I have seen the Lord!” once again fell on deaf ears.

“What’s up with them?” I inquired.

She said she could relate to their tears but their tears were different than the ones she had cried so long ago. She said these people cried because of feelings of guilt and regret. She said, “These are people who feel like they are completely unworthy and undeserving of God’s love. They feel absolutely unlovable and unforgivable. They will not allow themselves to experience the transforming love and forgiveness of God, therefore they have plugged their ears and cannot hear the message of Easter Street, therefore, they are unable to move forward.”

Across the street from the crying crowd I saw another interesting sight. There was a man heading down a side street carrying on a conversation with his pastor who was running in place along Easter Street. This is what I heard --

The man said, “I have no faith. I listen to the Word as it is spoken in the Scripture and in the sermon, but I don’t get anything out of it, it doesn’t do anything for me. Besides, I’ve got better things to do on Sunday morning. I can actually accomplish something rather than just sit there.”

The man’s pastor was wise and courageous. He did not argue or debate, he simply spoke the truth. He said to the man, “You are disobedient. You are trying to keep some part of your life under your own control. That is what is preventing you from listening and actually hearing Christ and his Word of grace. Somewhere in your heart you are refusing to listen because you desire to be in complete control. You desire to understand but only on your terms. When faced with that which you do not understand you have lied to yourself in your attempt to explain away and dismiss the incomprehensible through your human wisdom. The Word will only have meaning when you come to tear yourself away from all other attachments and surrender to the unexplainable incomprehensible grace of God.”

A little bit further along we came to a gigantic intersection. Easter Street went on straight ahead but this other street looked most interesting. I was tempted to turn and head down it when the woman said, “Stop! Do not go down that path, for that is ‘Cheap Grace Alley.’”

“Cheap Grace Alley?” I said.

“Yes,” replied the woman, “that is a path most difficult to turn back from. It is a place where people want all the benefits of a relationship with God but none of the responsibility. It is a place where Easter Street is reduced to middle-class respectability that makes no costly demands and is safe and painless. It is a place where people are not freed from their sins, they have just settled down comfortably with them; assured that God will forgive them, they make not attempt to be obedient, they do what ever they want.

I looked down “Cheap Grace Alley” and I saw a man yelling, “If God loves and forgives us, what does it matter how we live?”

The woman pointed to the man and said, “You cannot know Christ as Savior of you without acknowledging him as Lord over you. Obedience is not optional.”

And then she began to run again and once again I had to try hard to catch up. In the distance I saw two signs. The first one read: “I will be your God.” Right after that the other sign read: “You shall be my people.” The woman stopped between the two signs and said to me, “This is the Good News of Easter Street. Those who embody this Good News can say with me, ‘I have seen the Lord!’ Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ God has adopted us as children and has promised to always be our God! Through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ God has granted us new life, not just in the world to come, but right here and now on Easter Street! Through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ God says ‘You shall be my people!’.....God expects us and helps us to live as his children, as brothers and sisters to one another. No one,” she went on to say, “is truly a Christian until genuinely acknowledging God’s loving claim upon us as children and God’s expectation upon us to live as his children.”

We started to run again as she continued speaking to me. “Christians” she said, “are not just children of God who passively trust God to accept them as they are, solve their problems, meet their personal and family needs, comfort and save them. Christians are people who respond to God’s love, forgiveness, and acceptance with thankful obedience. Christians are people who are joyful about being God’s people. Christians are people for whom Easter Street is not simply a place but a way of life. Christians are people who knowingly and joyfully live and travel everyday along Easter Street.

As she was speaking to me my eyes beheld a most wonderful sight off in the distance. There, up ahead, far, far ahead, I saw a great cloud of witnesses running along Easter Street. And at the rear of this great cloud of witnesses I saw...No, it couldn’t be...could it? I thought I saw: (names of folks remembered through Easter Lilies and those who died very recently)

James Adams, and Don Callis, and Ralph Davis, and Jim Dittmer, and Marjorie Bintner, and C.B. Lueck, and Ora Louise Miller, and Maurine Wiley, and Jim Giokaris, and Bob and Maxine Hartzler, and Mary Frances Heynen, and Tom Hopkins, and Mrs. Scotten, and Loren and Diana Lowman, and Kim Spaeth, and Dr. And Mrs. Charles Trader, and Charles Turner, and Garnett and Mildred Bryan, and...and I thought I saw...I thought I saw Lee Kolsky sprinting to catch up to this great cloud of witnesses all running for joy along Easter Street.

And as the great cloud of witnesses ran out of sight the woman fell silent as the bright light returned and I heard a voice say, “Mary!” --- and the woman replied “Rabbouni!” and then she took off and ran far ahead of me, out of sight. Just then, in that instant, I found myself surrounded by my family. My little boy, Alex, was standing over me and asking if I was O.K. and telling me that I hadn’t been watching where I was going.....I’d run into a telephone pole.

III. Conclusion Had it all been just a dream; the meaningless musing of an unconscious mind? Or is Easter Street a reality? Are we on Easter Street? Do we know it?

Are we running along sharing Good News or are we stuck standing still arguing or crying?

Are we moving in the right direction along Easter Street or are we headed down a side street or alley? Are we keeping up a good and joyful pace or are we lagging behind, content to stay at home, in the background, trying to free ourselves from the call to obedience and responsibility?

Are we observers of a “happy day” or livers and travelers and celebrators of a gift, a way of life, a blessing?

Perhaps, just perhaps, Easter Street is a reality because Jesus Christ truly is Risen!

And perhaps, just perhaps, His Resurrection, His living presence, can and does make a difference in our everyday lives when, through grace inspired faith, we too can come to proclaim, “I have seen the Lord” on Easter Street.



1) John 20:18 2) Isaiah 40:31 and 50:4 3) Shirley Guthrie, Christian Doctrine, Westminster/John Knox Press: Louisville, 1994, Chapter 16: The Doctrine of Justification, page 320. 4) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, New York: Macmillan Co, 1963, pages 75-76. 5) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, Macmillan Co.:New York, 1963, Chapter 1. 6) Shirley Guthrie, Christian Doctrine, Westminster/John Knox Press: Louisville, 1994, Chapter 17: The Doctrine of Sanctification, page 333. 7) Shirley Guthrie, Christian Doctrine, Westminster/John Knox Press: Louisville, 1994, Chapter 17: The Doctrine of Sanctification, page 334. 8) Jeremiah 7:23 9) Jeremiah 7:23 10) Shirley Guthrie, Christian Doctrine, Westminster/John Knox Press: Louisville, 1994, Chapter 17: The Doctrine of Sanctification, page 331. 11) John 20:16