2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
Oh I love Easter. Hallelujah! Praise God!
This is what it’s all about. This is the day. This is when the real celebration happens. This day is greater than birthdays; greater than Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and yes even better than Christmas.
Jesus rose from the dead!
Mary went to the tomb this morning and found the stone was rolled away. There was no body in the tomb… just folded linens. Jesus was gone.
But then quickly Jesus revealed himself to her. Then to a few others. Then the disciples. Then the world.
Jesus. Is. Alive!
Hallelujah give thanks! He lives!
On Friday he took all the sins of the world upon himself and died a horrible death. But today…
Today he lives!!
And what better place to celebrate such wonderful news, such a wonderful gift, than right here in this church? No where, right!?
Good Friday is such a painful day. Such a difficult day as we commemorate his death. So hard because there is that realization it had to happen. There was no other way to save us than to die. We wish it didn’t have to happen. But God saw no other way.
But then… then the victory this morning! It’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster for a weekend isn’t it?
With God, nothing is impossible. Nothing can defeat His love, His grace, His mercy. Nothing can come between God and His love for His creation and especially His children. Not even death.
With this in mind, we turn to our reading from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, because now that we know Jesus is alive… for our sake… what do we do? Where do we turn? What do we do with such knowledge?
When we know of the truth of Jesus Christ, that he lives, and we may benefit from this life, we hear these words from Paul, “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:14-15)
He tells us once we’ve obtained the glory of the Lord we need to stand firm to the traditions.
But what traditions? The traditions of this church? The traditions we’ve been holding on to for the last 50 years?
No. We are to hold onto the traditions of the New Testament. The traditions of the first church. And what are they? Well, the simple answer was given by Jesus Christ when he was asked which was the greatest commandment… Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
This was the work of the early church. This is how they spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and this is how they grew in faith and numbers. They loved God, and in turn they loved their neighbours.
This is the simple tradition we need to stand strongly behind. These are the words which penetrate our hearts so that we can become the people, the church, God wishes us to be.
This is how we bring new people, not just into our churches, but into the presence of God for all eternity.
This is who we ought to be.
We need to stand strongly together. The world around us tries to tell us we’ve got it wrong. There is no God. Or our interpretation of God is wrong because the world has figured out a better way.
There is no better way. There are no shortcuts. There is nothing greater than following God’s lead in our lives. Nothing! Sure it might not make us popular. Sure we might find ourselves looked down upon. But there is no better way.
I had an interesting conversation with a couple of friends I’ve made in the last couple years in Ontario. We were commenting how none of us were terribly popular in high school. How we didn’t seem to have a lot of friends.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but your minister wasn’t exactly “cool in school.”
We all commented that we never really felt like we fit in. I don’t have any close friends from that part of my life. Sure we’re “friends” on Facebook, and that’s fine. I like they are still around and we can talk once in a while, but they aren’t close. We aren’t exactly BFFs.
Then when I look back at my university days and career in technology. Other than meeting Bev at Acadia, I don’t have a lot of close friends from there either. Especially since I’ve changed my vocation and moved back to the Maritimes.
However, I would say the friends I do have now, while not exactly BFFs, I would say we’re good friends. We know we can call on each other any time to share, to talk, or to support one another.
I guess what I’m saying is, things change. People change. It’s not always a bad thing. With God, we are changed for the better. Much, much better. I know I am a much better man than I was in high school or university.
And with my new friends, we are a group of people who are tired of new expressions of theology. We are tired of people trying to take church into “popular culture” by watering down and changing 2000 years of belief.
We’re tired of the church trying to take the easy way out.
Jesus never took the easy way. Jesus always walked into the hard places. He always talked to the ones no one was supposed to talk to. He always broke the rules of expectations of wider society. And because of this, did the church disappear? No… it began!
The risen Jesus Christ walks among us today. The empty tomb shows death has no hold on us. We are God’s children.
We know in our hearts Jesus lives for us because we understand on Good Friday that he went to battle for us. He went to war! And in his resurrection we know the victory is won.
My friends. Do you believe this?
Do you know in your deepest being that God loves you so much He came to earth Himself. He lived, breathed, walked, experiencing what the world has to offer us. Then He died a most horrible death, even though He Himself was perfectly innocent. But all was not lost. Three days later, He rose from the dead and returned to heaven as a sign of His love, His grace, and His mercy so that we may be born anew and live with Him, our Father in heaven, forevermore.
There is no greater gift. There is no greater day than this. There is no greater love than the love of our heavenly Father.
Stand strong. Be bold in proclaiming this love. Be not afraid, for the Lord is with us. Beginning this day, almost 2000 years ago.
God bless you my friends this Easter day, and forevermore.
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed.
Hallelujah and amen!