(After I was done with the prepared part of my Easter Sermon, I spoke from my heart for a bit. Here’s sort of what I said – it wasn’t written down until now and it was a little different at each service.)
So that’s the “big finish” for the Easter Sermon.
But I’m going to keep going for another couple of minutes. Because every Easter and Christmas Eve I realize there are folks here who are like I was. You’re here because someone said, “Hey, you’ve gotta come” or because it’s a family tradition. Or because it’s the thing to do on Easter Sunday.
Maybe you consider yourself an atheist or an agnostic like I did. Maybe you consider yourself a seeker or a searcher. Maybe you’re not sure where you are spiritually. Maybe you’re a Christian who’s doubting and struggling with faith right now.
Whyever you’re here, I’m glad you’re here. You are welcome here. I’m the last person to judge anybody about why they’re in church – I came back when I was 33 because it was the only way my girlfriend would date me!
What I want to say to you is this . . .
What we’re talking about this morning – the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus – that’s the essence of our faith.
I want to apologize to you. We Christians have given you a mistaken impression of what our faith is all about. Some of our most vocal Christians have made it seem that the most important thing about our faith is the rules, the rules, the rules. And that this (the Bible) is a rule book. I had that impression myself. People used to hit me over the head with this book all the time when I wasn’t a Christian.
But this is not a rule book. Not primarily. Sure, there are things in here that God wants us to do, even commands us to do because it’s good for us and good for our relationships with God and with other people. But the essence of this book is that it is a love story. And it is a love story like no other. Most love stories are about two other people. This one is about God and you.
God invites all of us – God invites you – into that love story. That’s what the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus is really about.
You don’t have to be a “good person.” That’s another lie we’ve told the world – that the church is made up of good people. It’s actually the opposite; the church is people who realize how much forgiveness we need. There’s a reason we start each service with Confession!
I’m sure you have questions about Christianity. That’s awesome! I had hundreds when I wasn’t a Christian. Now I have thousands! God can handle our questions. Ask somebody – you can always ask me; text me, e-mail me, Facebook message me. My answer may be “I don’t know” but I’ll always respond. I’ll always listen. Or find someone else you can talk to.
I want to invite you this morning into that love story. Because that is what Easter is all about. That is what following Jesus is all about.
To begin that journey, you don’t have to do anything but realize that it’s all been done . . . for you.
On the Cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” Everything was completed to save the world. Everything was done to save . . . you.
Yes, on the Cross Jesus said, “It is finished.”
On Easter Sunday, he walked out of the tomb to prove that it was . . . Finished.
(Painting by Karen, my wife, who got me back into church before she was my wife.)