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April 24, 2011 – Sunrise Service that Matthew would also be the only one to talk about the earth quaking on the day of Living into God Christ’s death and resurrection. Matthew Matt. 28:1-10 wanted us to know that the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus are so important Matthew’s gospel is unique, in that he that there are significant changes not only said that there was an earthquake when to people, but to the entire creation. We Jesus took his last breath and another one can certainly understand the impact of this on Easter morning as the stone was event and we know enough about the moved from the tomb. When we think science of earthquakes to know that once about the fact that Matthew was the only there has been an earthquake in a gospel writer to include the Star in the particular location, the lay of the land is birth narrative, it should not surprise us never exactly the same. And certainly, the world has not been the same since the life, resurrections were common place, but death and resurrection of Jesus. because they understood the rhythm of life. They understood that plants and trees We have to remember that in Jesus’ day, die off in the fall and winter, when they lie there were many people who were dormant. Then when spring comes, those crucified. It is difficult for us to imagine, things which appeared to be dead are because the thought of seeing someone resurrected and bursting forth with life nailed to a cross is unfathomable for us. It again. The ancient people could grasp the seems so incredibly gruesome and it was. fact that there had to be death in nature What many of us do not think about is the before there could be life. They understood fact that ancient people understood the that a seed had to be buried in the ground concept of resurrection very differently before it could break through the garden than we do also. Not because human surface with new life. Death always gives for us. When we think about it, all of our way to life. foods have come from living organisms, whether meats or vegetables, grains or We know that intellectually, but do not dairy. If we consume things that were not often think about it. Stephanie has at one time alive, then they do not fit into recently been convicted of the importance the life cycle, where the death of one of eating real food, not genetically altered organism sustains the life of another. pseudo-foods. She purchased a book Death is the engine of life. That is true recently that gives all kinds of important with the food we eat. It is true in the tips about eating healthily. One of the animal kingdom and it is true in matters of most important things is that food should faith as well. have been alive at one time and the less processed it has been, the healthier it is Death makes way for life. When we open he would draw all people unto him when ourselves to experience the power of he was. Jesus spent much of his time with Jesus’ life-giving sacrifice on the cross, we his disciples talking about death and are entering into the true way of life. Jesus rebirth. He spoke to them of the life that is the confirmation that this pattern of would come through his death. Even death and resurrection is the only kind of though they did not always understand life that actually sustains and inspires. what he was saying, Jesus tried to help them to see that they would have new life The angel that appeared to the through him. Jesus told his disciples that women at the empty tomb reminded them in order to find life, they must first lose that Jesus had told them that he would be their lives as they currently were. raised from the dead. He told them that the Son of Man would be lifted up and that We know this to be true today. In order to we die to self, can we be reborn in Christ. have life abundant, we know that we have Life is like that. to die to our old way of life and be willing After the women had heard what the angel to accept God’s way of life for us. We must said, Matthew says an odd thing. He says be willing to die to self in order to live into that the women left the tomb with fear God. This follows the pattern of all of life and great joy. Is it just me or do those that death makes possible resurrection. things seem mutually exclusive? My initial This is the way our universe operates. thought was that I have not known many Jesus worked within the very order of the people who have experienced both fear cosmos to allow his death to pave the way and great joy at the same time. Unless for life. There has to be a death to make perhaps that was what people felt as they way for life. Friday has to happen in order experienced the re-opening of the Texas for Sunday to become possible. Only when Giant this weekend. I will admit that there of those things would certainly be enough have been times that the fear of what a to strike fear into the hearts of most of us. rollercoaster will do next is pretty intense, That would be without even thinking about but the great joy and exhilaration of the the unknowns that could have been lurking ride is, for me, worth working through the in their minds. They were probably afraid fear. of what kind of reaction this news might bring from the religious leaders who had I am sure that those women had many turned Jesus over to Pilate, or they could reasons to be fearful. They had survived have worried about how the angry mob an earthquake. They had encountered an who shouted, “crucify him!” might react to angel who had told them that Jesus was this news. Clearly they had much to fear. no longer dead in the tomb, but had been raised and was headed for Galilee. Any one At the same time they were joyful, Jesus was calling the disciples together in because they had learned that Jesus, their Galilee empowered them to go forth and Savior and friend had been raised from the share the news. dead. This was a cause for empowerment. On this Easter Sunday, may we also be They had followed Jesus and he had empowered to go forth and share the good defeated the powers of the world and news of the resurrection. We have been conquered death. When they saw him, given new life through the death of Christ. how could they have possibly done The tomb is empty. Death has been anything, but fall down and worship him. defeated. New life is ours when we are But Jesus did not want them to hold on to willing to die to ourselves so that we can him there. He instead asked them to tell live into God. He is risen! He is risen his disciples the good news and instruct indeed! Alleluia, Amen. them to meet him in Galilee. Knowing that And to our God be all glory and honor and blessing and wisdom and power and might, both now and forevermore. Amen.
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