April 24_ 2011 Sunrise Sermon by ajizai


									     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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