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. Im not sure that I, that
we, can make that assumption. Im not sure that we really understand what it means to
be saved by grace through faith. Im not sure we really understand what it means to
be justified and sanctified. Im not sure we connect the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
with our everyday lives in any useable, meaningful ways. Im 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 didnt 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.
Yes. Were on Easter Street. Were always on Easter Street, but
not everyone knows it. My calling, she said, is to tell people I have
seen the Lord! Thats 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 didnt hear or didnt understand, or didnt 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 didnt
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 womans 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 dont first love him! On
the other side of Easter Street stood another group of people who were shouting back,
No! Thats not it! God will only love you if youre obedient! If you do
Neither side of the street heard the womans 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 cant seem to come to
terms with Gods great free gift of grace. They wont surrender themselves. They
feel like they have to do something or be something special to earn Gods 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 womans proclamation of I
have seen the Lord! once again fell on deaf ears.
Whats 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 Gods 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 dont get anything out of it, it doesnt do
anything for me. Besides, Ive got better things to do on Sunday morning. I can
actually accomplish something rather than just sit there.
The mans 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
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
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 Gods loving claim upon
us as children and Gods 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 Gods love, forgiveness, and acceptance
with thankful obedience. Christians are people who are joyful about being Gods
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
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 couldnt
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
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 hadnt been watching
where I was going.....Id 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
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
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