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Resurrection Hope for the Church

Church is hard…it is heartbreaking at times. Most times we resolve to simply come for ourselves and not worry about the nonsense happening all around. Often, we allow scribes and Pharisees to seize control and eventually drive us away. Truly, both are tragic. But what can we do?

Well, I try to offer a suggestion this Easter that we might see new life in the Church. What do you think? I’d love to hear from you.

How can Sin & Righteousness Coexist?

Sin is a problem we’ve come to accept in the Church. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people excuse it. They say: “well, the Church is a human institution. So, you have to expect sin to exist in it.”

Well, maybe we should expect sin to be in worldly organizations. But, don’t we say the Church is the Body of Christ? If the Church is the Body of Christ, then it can’t be also a mere “human institution.”

It is impossible for sin to exist in the Body of Christ

1 John 3 tells us that in Jesus there is no sin. And that makes sense, theologically. If what we say about the crucifixion is true, and that Jesus’ death destroyed the power of death over us: only the pure Lamb of God could take away the sins of the world.

If the Church is really the Body of Christ, then there should be no sin in the Church. If the Church is the Body of He in Whom there is no sin, then how can you or I be cool with bringing sin into the place of holiness?

Can sin and righteousness coexist?

If the Church is the Body of Christ and Christ is uncorrupted, then one of two things would happen when sin enters the Church: either sin would be cast out and destroyed, or the Body of Christ would become corrupt. We can look at the Church and see sin seated comfortably in the pews: hypocrisy, manipulation, backbiting & backstabbing, gossip, judgment and all sorts of lawlessness. And because even those who are trying to live according to God’s will have smiled and laughed with sin, it’s like righteousness has made friends with sinfulness! #Inconceivable!

Love and hate can never be friends. One will always defeat the other. Jesus has come to defeat sin, but for some reason we want to resurrect sin and keep it with us, while smiling in the face of righteousness. We kiss Jesus, professing our love for Him, while betraying Him like Judas.

The Christian faith is so much more than make believe! Shouldn’t we seek an authentic faith where the Body of Christ is what we really are – not just a name we’ve given to ourselves that lacks meaning?

I would like to share some of my thoughts on sin in the Church. I would love to hear your reflections, thoughts, feedback. Let’s talk about sin in the Body of Christ!

Love One Another to Show the Power of Easter

Easter and the Power of the Resurrection is not a figurative power. But, much of how we do church gives people a weak impression of the Gospel. It makes Christianity simply a religion that has no power to really change lives.

But is that what we want to say about the Faith? Is that why Christ came…and died…and is risen?

Easter must be worth more than colored eggs, big hats and chocolates. It must be worth more than a simply celebration we have every year.

The power of Easter is rooted in the power of the Resurrection. And the power of the Resurrection is a real power that has a real impact on how you and I are able to live if we so choose.

Easter is the beginning of our new life: not our old life dressed up in “Christian clothing.” But a new life…the life we were to live in the Beginning. The way has been opened to us through the Resurrection. But you and I must walk worthy of the Way.

When we walk worthy, we proclaim the Resurrection with great power. When we walk in the Way, we show others that the things we preach are actually possible. When we live in the newness of life granted to us by the Resurrection, we ourselves become a powerful witness to the glory of God, through Jesus Christ.

How strong is your witness to the Resurrection?

Easter & Our Path to the Resurrection

The Big So-What is upon us!

It’s Easter: Christ is risen! But so what? Who cares? What does it all mean?

Have you ever thought of that? What does it mean that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead? What does that matter?

Our Lenten Journey came to a head in Holy Week, which focuses on two days: Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Most of us pay no attention to those days. They’re just a part of the trek that takes us to Easter. Yet, if we miss those days we can easily miss the point of the resurrection.

So, I would like to travel this journey with you through Holy Week to the Easter, that you might experience the power of the resurrection.

On Maundy Thursday, we remember the Last Supper. On this day, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. Imagine that: God washing the feet of humans?!?

Yet, this is the key to love. This is the key for you and I to learn how to love. And, in this sermon I share that lesson.

Once we learn the lesson of love and the type of love Jesus requires of us, we must look to the Cross and see the suffering of the One Who first love us. This brings us to Good Friday. And yes, Good Friday is the day our Lord died on the Cross.

How crazy is that? God dies on a cross? Inconceivable!!! Yet this is exactly what happens.

How does this happen? Why does this happen? Jesus’ death on the Cross is key to understanding the forgiveness of sins He offers. Not just that He looks at your sins and says: “It’s ok.” But that the covering of sin has been removed. That might a bit confusing, so I use this message to discuss what actually happens in Jesus’ death.

Knowing what happens in the Crucifixion, the power of the resurrection becomes clearer. Jesus died for our sins. His resurrection had nothing to do with those sins. And, His resurrection was also not simply about us “being saved” and able to coast into Heaven, simply because He died and rose from the dead. His resurrection is for a different purpose altogether, enabling us to live holy lives – resurrected lives – now.  I invite you to see the Risen Lord and the fullness of the power of His resurrection.

Good Friday Bypass: Destination Easter!

There’s a reason they call the forty days preceding Christ’s Crucifixion “Great Lent.”  There’s a reason they call the period from Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem to His victorious death on the Cross “the Passion.”  It is part of the triumvirate of Christian seasons which make possible our redemption.

Yet, Great Lent and the Passion are the most difficult seasons to enjoy.  It is easy to enjoy the Incarnation.  It is easy to enjoy the Resurrection.  But, to enjoy the Crucifixion?  For most of us, that takes work.

Nevertheless, we ought (eerily) enjoy it as much as we enjoy the other two.  For, without Good Friday, Christmas is pointless.  And without Good Friday, there could be no Easter.

Good Friday: The CrossGood Friday is hard.  We have a natural aversion to death and tend to deal with it at arm’s length.  This aversion is further complicated by the fact that the Death of Jesus is a death of One Whom we claim to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world.  Beyond our fear of death, the Crucifixion and Good Friday call us to confront that fear compounded by the complexity of the “Death of God.”

So, we brush past Good Friday.  We accept it as part of the reality that Friday must come in the cycle of days.  Yet, do we accept it as the day our Lord was Crucified?

Yes, we all acknowledge that Jesus was crucified.  Yet, many times it seems like a passing thought.  I mean, we’ve changed versions of the Nicene Creed to read: “He suffered death, and was buried,” or “He suffered and was buried,” while older versions emphasized that “He suffered, died and was buried.”*  As I explain to my son, the importance for this three-way division is clear: Jesus did not simply suffer death.  Neither did He simply suffer, being buried without death.  Jesus suffered.  Jesus died.  Jesus was buried.

Yes, Mel Gibson’s movie [amazon_link id=”B00028HBKM” target=”_blank” ]The Passion of the Christ[/amazon_link], is difficult to watch at times – especially the scenes after Jesus’ betrayal.  But the movie renders an appropriate depiction of what we call Good Friday.  And to truly appreciate the awesomeness of Easter, we must watch the difficult drama that is Good Friday.

We Must Look at Good Friday

Our natural aversion to death compels us to turn away from that scene.  And in turning away, we wish Good Friday to quickly pass.  Naturally, our desire is to move from Hosanna (i.e. “Save Now!” aka Palm Sunday) to Easter – ignoring Good Friday.  Yet, Good Friday stares us in the face even if we cannot confront it ourselves.  From the third hour of His being nailed to the Cross to the twelfth hour of Christ being laid in the Tomb, we are confronted by the goodness of Good Friday.  For nine hours (an ironic parallel to the nine month gestation period for humanity) the Redeemer of Humanity worked our rebirth. Shall we avert our eyes from the spectacle and miss the embodiment of hope that is Good Friday and the Crucifixion?

Good Friday: ScourgeRather, beloved, we ought look Good Friday square in the face!  Through the vile expression of humanity at its absolute worst, we see the gracious expression of the Divine at His best.  Because of this expression, we can have hope that as humanity continues to act at its worst God continues to act at His best.

Yes, we are still confronted with the tyranny of human degradation.  We are still left with the examples of the religious and government elite forsaking Truth for the sake of the beloved status quo.  Yet, Good Friday reminds us that if we do not betray Jesus with our kisses (and professions of love) as did Judas, we can – today – be with the Lord in Paradise!

Good Friday reminds us that even though humanity and human institution might feast upon itself, there is a balm in Gilead to heal our sin-sick soul.

We must not seek to quickly bypass Good Friday and run to the Resurrection.  For if we do, we will ultimately miss the Resurrection.  More than simply the raising up of our Savior from the dead, the Resurrection is our opportunity for “Tewahedo”: to be reconciled and made one with the Divine and with each other.

If we miss Good Friday, we miss the Resurrection.  And, if we miss the Resurrection we are doomed to repeat the Crucifixion.  And, looking at the way we treat each other – human to human, and worse, Christian to Christian – it is easy to bear witness to that.

I do not say this to offend, but I am responding based upon what I’ve seen in popular culture and my own social media feeds.  So, we are left with this question: why is it so hard for us to face Good Friday and the Crucifixion?  Is it simply our natural aversion to death?  Is it our desire to not confront the “Death of God?”  Is there another reason?  Do you think my generalization is completely out of place?  What would you say?

 

* Note: The original Greek uses the word “πάσχω” (pascho) – to suffer, which in Luke 22 was used in the absolute sense, i.e. to “suffer death.”  For more, see: http://www.maristmessenger.co.nz/2012/09/01/suffered-death-in-the-new-creed/

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