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I will Rise, Again and Again!

A sermon  based on John 20: 1-18 and Luke 24:45-47 
 by Rev. Frank Schaefer

Additional resources for this sermon:

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I want to begin my Easter message with a quote that may seem odd for such a big occasion; It is a quote  from Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal who describes a roadside trash dump just down-the-road from a monastery:

“Behind the monastery, down by the road,
there is a cemetery of wore- out things
there lie smashed china, rusty metal,
cracked pipes and rusty bits of wire,
empty cigarette packets, sawdust,
corrugated iron, old plastic, tyres beyond repair:
all waiting for the Resurrection, like ourselves.”

[“Marilyn Monroe and other Poems
", Search Press 1975, p 60]

Perhaps that’s how some of us feel this morning; perhaps we feel washed up and useless – like a piece of trash tossed up on the scrap heap of humanity, good for nothing.  Today we celebrate Easter Sunday and part of the Easter message is that nobody has to feel like this any longer. Nobody needs to feel rejected or useless, because . . .

Christ is Risen!

For what we celebrate this morning is not just that Jesus has risen from the dead.

It’s the celebration of what his resurrection means for us.  It’s a celebration of new life, of God’s life, which is available for us to live out right here and now at this very moment.” 

And this spirit of resurrection is not just a future promise – it is a promise for the present –

Jesus says: “I am the Resurrection and the life” NOT: I was the resurrection that one time—you know, on Easter Sunday, 30 A.D.”

He says: “I AM,” present tense!  “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Mary Magdalene stayed back at the grave; all others had inspected the empty tomb and left; but she stayed.

She had unfinished business.  She was waiting for answers. 

Was there something she hadn’t said to her Lord that she felt she needed to tell him?  Did she need to say fare-well one more time?  Like we do when we say farewell at the grave side right before the casket is lowered?

Or did she need to touch his hand or the hem of his garment one more time?

To receive healing and strength to go on?

She waited there in front of the empty grave, she couldn’t get herself to go home, or to join the others. She didn’t know what to do; where to turn, what to pray.

She starts talking to the gardener and as soon as she says her name: “Mary” she knows that it’s him, alive, risen from the dead. There is no doubt in her mind. She falls to her knees to worship him.

She rises up and runs to the disciples.

Can you see running towards you?

Can you hear their cry?
I’ve seen the Lord, he is alive, he is risen!

Can you feel the excitement in her voice?

Because Jesus is risen, she has risen. And now she is running, shouting, praising God.

Let this be our shout this morning: 

“Because Jesus has risen, I will rise!”

I will rise in the name of the Lord!

I will rise in God’s strength!

I will rise on Eagles wings!

I will rise!

All who feel like the darkness has closed in on them!

Let them say: I will rise!

All you who feel shackled by sin and the forces of evil!
Let them say: I will rise!

All who wake up every morning questioning if some joy will ever return to their life.  Let them say: I will rise!

All who are wondering if their life can ever be worth living again while looking at the pieces of shards that was once your life.

Let them say: I will rise!

All who are standing at the end of broken dreams, missed callings, and shattered opportunities.  Let them say: I will rise!

All who are living a life in the shadows--beyond even an inkling of hope.

Let them say: I will rise!

For there was One who was despised and rejected by men
who said: I will rise!

A man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
One who was pierced for our transgressions, who was bruised for our iniquities
and while enduring the sufferings he said to himself: I will rise!

He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, keeping silence, while his strength and demeanour exclaimed: I will rise!

And when he faced his accusers and the crowd shouted “crucify” his whole being exuded the message: you can crucify me, but I will rise!

No matter how much pain you inflict on me, I will rise!

No matter how much you defame me, how much you disfigure me, how much you denounce me, I will rise.

He is the One, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who says: I will rise, again and again!

I have risen from the grave and I will rise again in you:

I will rise in you who are faint and broken-hearted

I will rise in you who are tormented by evil and temptation

I will rise in you who are waiting upon the Lord

I will rise in you who are sick and in pain

I will rise in you who are poor in spirit

I will rise in you who hunger after righteousness

I will rise in you who mourn

I will rise in you who are pure in heart and spread peace on earth.

I will rise in you; and through me, you will be raised and lifted up to a higher place; I will set your foot upon a rock and instil my faith in you until one day you, too, will be able to say: I will rise.  In Jesus’ Name, I will rise. Amen!