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EASTER MESSAGE: SHARE THE LORD’S RESURRECTION
Ø challenging the distorted public (semi-public) opinion
Ø a smile, a few words, a simple gesture may mean new life, resurrection for the other.
Michel de Verteuil
John’s account of the resurrection is in two stages:
– verses 1-2 are about Mary of Magdala’s experience;
– verses 3 to 10 tell us about the experience of the two disciples.
In verses 1 and 2 you might like to focus on the symbolism of it being “still dark” and yet a “first day” of a new time. The large stone symbolizes all the forces, human and other, that keep God’s grace in the bondage of the tomb.
Your experience will help you interpret how Mary responded. Did she run in confusion? Or in fear?
The story of Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved can be read from various points of view. You can take them together as experiencing the resurrection, focusing on the details, especially the cloths lying on the ground, useless now since Jesus was alive, but also on the fact that until they saw the empty tomb they did not believe the teaching of the scriptures.
St John makes a point of contrasting the two apostles. If you would like to meditate on this aspect of the story, see Peter as symbol of the Church leader, while “the other disciple” is the one who, while having no position of authority, is specially loved by Jesus and, perhaps as a result, is first in faith.
Lord, we thank you for moment of grace.
We had been in a situation of death
– a relationship that meant a lot to us seemed dead
– an addiction held us in its grip
– our country was locked in civil strife.
Then the day came that would turn out to be the first of a new era.
We were mourning as usual,
Like Mary of Magdala making a routine visit to the tomb of Jesus,
But saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb.
Naturally, we looked for some simple explanation,
“they have taken the Lord our of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him,”
but it wasn’t anything like that,
it was what the scriptures teach us, that your work must always rise again.
“They can kill a bishop, but they cannot kill the Church which is the people.” …Archbishop Romero, some days before he was martyred.
Lord, we thank you for people of faith.
They believe the teaching of the scriptures
That your work may lie in the tomb for some days
But it must rise again.
“When the underprivileged unite and struggle for justice, is that not a sign of the presence and action of God in our time?”
Musumi Kanyaro, Committee of Women in Church and Society, Lutheran World Federation
Lord, as we look around the world today
we see what Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved saw as they entered his tomb.
Cloths are lying on the ground that we can recognise for what they are
– attitudes of passivity that look like fine linen but in fact kept your chosen ones in the tomb.
Whereas you have once more fulfilled what you taught us in all the scriptures
and we had not really believed until this moment:
that you will always raise up your chosen ones when the world imprisons them in a tomb.
Lord, we pray today for those who were baptised last night,
Today they have enthusiasm, for them you are alive and present;
But there will certainly come a time when they will experience you absent,
When prayer will be like Mary of Magdala going in the gloom of early morning
To visit the tomb of Jesus.
In fact they will be like people who mourn for a spouse or a child
Without even having the comfort of the dead body to look at.
This is the way they will have to pass
because until they have had experiences like this they will not really believe
the teaching of the scriptures that your grace cannot be overpowered by evil
and that your presence within us must always,
like Jesus, rise again from the tomb.
Something new has happened here-
a new era has begun.
Lord, we like to feel that we have you within our grasp:
– that our prayers are always answered;
– that we are living in a way that is pleasing to you;
– that the times, gestures and words of our prayers are just right.
Teach us that we must be prepared to lose that security
and experience being abandoned, until we live in trust only
and see all those things that we considered important
like the cloths in the empty tomb of Jesus –
fine linen cloths, but they were keeping him in the tomb.
Now we see them on the ground and also the cloth that had been over his head
not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.
Introduction to the Celebration
Every Sunday we gather to recall that Christ rose from the dead and has given us new life, but today is special as it recalls the original Sunday. This is our great annual feast proclaiming that death has been conquered and our sins forgiven. This is the great day of Christian joy: Christ is risen.
1. The resurrection is the source of Christian hope: our lives are lot circumscribed by life as we know it now, but can open onto a new life in the presence of God. This is the mystery beyond words, yet somehow today it has to be the subject of our preaching. However, there are two widely held misconceptions which prevent people hearing what the liturgy says about the resurrection today in its symbols, prayers, and readings. A useful task in the homily is to draw attention to these mistaken ideas. The first is that it was some sort of resuscitation, a trick to prove that Jesus was right, an event which you either believe happened or did not happen back then. This misconception distracts from a hope in a resurrection in the future. The resurrection is not about resuscitation, but our future transformation. The second, and far more widespread notion, is that resurrection is just a fancy terms for a belief in an afterlife of some sort or other – the number of practising Christians who think that reincarnation can be squared with Christian faith is an indication of this confusion’s prevalence. Our faith is not about some kind of post mortem survival, but in God’s gift of the fullness of life.
2. So, the first point is to avoid ‘explaining’ the mystery as if it were a series of ‘facts’ that can just be acknowledged as having happened so-and-so many years ago. In earlier times each item in the resurrection accounts was studied like the clues in a detective story with the aim of building an apologetic that would explain the ‘how’ of the resurrection and the ‘what’ of the risen body of Jesus. But the kerygma of the resurrection lies not in the details of ‘the first Easter,’ but in the reality that those who join their lives with the Christ shall share a fuller, glorious, transformed life as the gift of the Father. We can inherit the Father’s gift of glory as the final fulfilment of human life. It is worth pointing out that the disciple today must not be distracted by the ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions of ‘the first Easter’ from remembering that Christian faith strains onward to the future: the cost of discipleship now and tomorrow is worth it for the path of righteousness does not end with a grave. Many wonder whether or not they ‘can believe’ in the empty tomb, but this misses the point. Belief in the resurrection is seen when someone, even in the face of still follows the of love with
3. Second, belief in the resurrection is not some christianised version of a belief in the immortality of the soul. A belief in immortality is a human sense that a bit, some sort of spiritual residue, can survive without a body. The belief in the resurrection is that we are each creatures willed by God, in whose histories God is interested as the loving Father, and into whose history he has sent his Son sharing our humanity, and therefore whose whole existence’ spirit, soul, and body’ can be transformed to become part of his Son’s glorious body. Easter is not a celebration of a ‘survival factor’ in humanity, but of the Father’s love so that nothing good shall perish, but be given even fuller life.
4. To believe in the message of Easter is not a matter of tombs long ago in Palestine, but having the conviction that it is worthwhile to seek to bring light in darkness, to oppose lies with truth, to work for justice in the face of human corruption, and to say that death does not have the last word.
5. When we profess our faith in the resurrection of Jesus we are not setting out something with the intention that our understandings should grasp it and comprehend it. Jesus has been transformed to a new kind of existence by the Father beyond our understanding and we can only express it in symbols such as that of the empty tomb – tombs, after all, are designed to hold their remains indefinitely. By contrast, the proclamation ‘Jesus is Risen’ is an invitation to share in a new way of seeing God and the universe, and it is only from within this new vision (faith) that it makes sense. Hence, the ancient theological dictum, based in Isaiah 7:9, ‘unless you believe, you will not understand.’ The message of Acts and the gospel is that we are invited to live, to live in a new way, to live in Christ – and that in living in this way we discover in that the Father will raise us
6. If we join with those who accept the invitation Christ, which is what we say we are doing in accepting baptism and renewing our baptismal promises, we become part of a new people. The Christian ‘thing’ is about being part of a people, not about individualist survival or a privately-defined relationship with ‘the Wholly Other’, and as such it
commits us to a way of living. The early followers were referred to as being on ‘The Way’ (see Acts 9:2; 18:26; 19:9 and 23; 22:4,14 and 22) and our oldest extant teaching manual (The Didache) begins by contrasting ‘The Way of Life’ (to be followed by disciples) with ‘The Way of Death.’
7. The thought of resurrection may fill us with joy, but the lifedemands that accepting it makes on us can be great: we must do as we would be done to (cf Didache 1:2; Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31), we must practice the forgiveness we desire from the Father (cf the ‘Our Father), and we must act with gentleness. Only in constant effort to live life in this way can we glimpse the truth of the empty tomb.
8. To live this life demands patience, a waiting for the good things to be revealed – the practice of the virtue of hope: we must always be of good courage … for we walk by faith, not by sight (cf 2 Cor 5:6f). Today is our day for rejoicing in the risen Christ, for thanking the Father for his love, and for reminding ourselves of that to which we have committed ourselves: The Way. Death has contended with Life, yet despite tombs and symbols of death all around us, we proceed to commit ourselves to life, confident that as the Father transformed the existence of Jesus, so he will transform the whole creation.
The realisation that the risen Lord was in their midst changed their lives radically. His several post-resurrection appearances gave them a renewed sense of hope and they became witnesses to his teaching.
The same joy and enthusiasm are meant to apply to us. However, there is also an important difference. Unlike the first disciples, we have the advantage of two millennia of Christian tradition and reflection. We have many opportunities for faith formation that did not exist in the early Church. Yet, even with the benefit of hindsight, we are equally or sometimes even more hesitant than the first-century disciples to make the necessary leap of faith in Jesus who is risen from the dead.
The significance of what happened at Easter is well summarised in the first Preface of Easter which states that ‘by dying he [Jesus] destroyed our death; by rising he restored our life’.
This was what Simon Peter and John realised when they arrived at the empty tomb. Effectively, they saw and they believed.
In contrast, we did not see the empty tomb. So our Christian faith invites us to reverse the order by believing first and then, through our belief, seeing. Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that this is real faith: not to go looking for the evidence and then, when we satisfy ourselves that the necessary proof exists, to embrace the faith. Instead, it is the other way round: embracing God in faith and then seeking to deepen our knowledge and understanding.
Our belief in the risen Lord originates in the witness of those who accompanied him. We journey with him, but in a different way from those who met him and walked with him and ate with him and touched him after his resurrection from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the definitive proof that physical death is not the end. There is life after death. And God invites all of us to use this earthly life to prepare for the next life.
With renewed faith and hope this day, let the words of the opening prayer for the Mass of Easter Sunday become our prayer: Let us pray that the risen Christ will raise us up and renew our lives. God our Father, by raising Christ your Son you conquered the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us.
Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead. (Jn 20:9)
Alleluia – for singing, not for humming!
The joy of the resurrection is a joy in giving the life we have received from God: ‘Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others’ (Pope Francis). The Alleluia is for singing, not for humming; it is to be heard from
the voice of the heart, and should lift the hearts of those who hear: ‘Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!’
We often see great joy in the middle of huge poverty: often the poor can live for the present moment and enjoy it to the full. Sometimes in the middle of illness we find a peace we don’t know from where it comes. The grace of the risen Jesus can touch our lives at any time. Let’s not be like Christians ‘whose lives seem like Lent without Easter’ (Pope Francis). Having lived through
the joyful season of Lent, our hearts are wholly lifted now in joy received and joy given.
on the outbreath echo the word ‘thanks’.Risen Christ, raise our lives in joy.
May all the joys of Easter be yours!
Praise the Lord and pass round the Eggs
In his Gospel, Matthew presents Jesus’ resurrection as a great intervention by God, inaugurating a new order throughout creation and history. The empty tomb is surrounded by miraculous phenomena: the earthquake, the angel whose appearance resembles a “flash of lightning” with garments as “dazzling as snow,” the rolled back stone and the collapse of the guards.
In Matthew’s account, Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary come to the tomb for no other reason than to mourn (the guards, no doubt, would have prevented any attempt to go near the body for additional anointing). The disciples, meanwhile, are nowhere to be seen. The women’s courageous and compassionate presence is rewarded by their being the first to hear the astonishing news of the Resurrection. The angel explains that Jesus has been “raised up” exactly as he foretold on three occasions in Matthew’s Gospel (16: 21, 17:23 and 20:19). The two women then become “apostles to the apostles,” sent to tell the others what they have seen.
On their way, the Risen One appears to them. In bidding the two Marys peace and in calling the cowering disciples his “brothers,” Jesus offers the forgiveness and reconciliation that are hallmarks of the Easter promise.
In the light of Easter morning, we realize unmistakably the depth of God’s love for us and understand the profound truth of Jesus’ Gospel of compassion, love, forgiveness, reconciliation and selflessness for the sake of others. God’s ”raising up” of his Son affirms our redemption through the power of the Gospel spirit of love; the empty tomb of Easter is the ultimate victory of the Gospel over humanity’s sad tendency toward despair, isolation, prejudice and selfishness.
With Easter faith, we can transform the darkness of Good Friday hatred into the light of Easter’s Alleluia; we can awaken the promise of the empty tomb in every place and moment and heart we encounter on our journey to Easter's fulfillment in our own lives.
The Easter story begins in the early morning darkness. This is always how our discovery of the risen Christ begins: in darkness.
For many, this was a week of darkness:
Earlier this week, someone received terrible news from a physician.
Earlier this week, someone suddenly lost his job.
Earlier this week, someone heard the words “I don’t love you anymore.”
Earlier this week, someone’s hope was crucified.
And the darkness is overwhelming.
No one is ready to encounter Easter until he or she has spent time in the early morning darkness where hope cannot be seen. In such darkness, Easter is the last thing we are expecting. And that’s why Easter terrifies us. We dread the darkness — but we fear even more what is beyond it. Sometimes the darkness we know is preferable to what we don’t know — we have learned at least to function and exist in the darkness; we find a distorted solace in the fact that darkness means that nothing more can disappoint or hurt us.
Easter’s first light illuminates those dark places we have become used to; it focuses our vision and attention on what we have never seen before; it dares us to imagine possibilities beyond our limited understanding of what is possible.
Easter is not about bunnies, springtime and girls in pretty dresses.
Easter is about more hope than we can handle.
The Risen Christ is present to us in the faithful witness of every good person who shares the good news of the empty tomb, who seeks to bring resurrection into this life of ours: to rise above life’s sufferings and pain to give love and life to others, to renew and re-create our relationships with others, to proclaim the Gospel of the empty tomb.
Today we stand, with Peter and John and Mary, at the entrance of the empty tomb; with them, we wonder what it means. The Christ who challenged us to love one another is risen and walks among us! All that he taught – compassion, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, sincerity, selflessness for the sake of others – is vindicated and affirmed if he is truly risen. The empty tomb should not only console us and elate us, it should challenge us to embrace the life of the Gospel. With Easter faith, we can awaken the promise of the empty tomb in every place and moment we encounter on our journey through this life.
Fr. Jude Botelho:
The first reading from the Acts, is part of an early sermon of St. Peter on the feast of Pentecost, his very first after the resurrection. He tells us how he is a witness of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Without the resurrection Jesus' life and ours would be a total failure, with the resurrection every moment of His ministry has a new meaning and every moment of our own can take on a new significance. Peter in this sermon reminds his listeners that Jesus is Lord of all and that his message is a message of hope and peace. He emphasizes that every believer is called to be a witness of the Lord's life, death and resurrection. We are called to be witnesses of the resurrection, but the glory of the resurrection is realized in us only when we have accepted the many crosses that come our way leading us to new life.
Broken and made more beautiful
A story is told of an eastern village that, through the centuries, was known for its exquisite pottery. Especially striking were its urns; high as tables, wide as chairs, they were admired around the globe for their strong form and delicate beauty. Legend has it that when each urn was apparently finished, there was one final step. The artist broke it - and then put it back together with gold filigree. An ordinary urn was then transformed into a priceless work of art. What seemed finished wasn't, until it was broken
The Gospel begins with Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. She knows the stone has to be rolled away, and she also knows that she cannot do it by herself. Maybe she believes that the Lord will provide and he will take care of it all- and he does! Maybe Mary's attitude should be a great encouragement for us all. We can't remove the boulder that blocks us and prevents us from bursting forth into new life. But the Lord is there for us and He will do it for us! She saw but she did not believe. The Apostles would not accept the conclusion that Jesus must have risen from the dead. It takes wonderful news a long time to seep into our consciousness, and convince us that Jesus has risen from the dead. Peter and John did not believe but ran to the tomb to check out for themselves and remained baffled in their unbelief. Finally, they both went into the tomb, they began to understand the scriptures, they saw and they believed. The Gospel
tells us that Mary stood outside the tomb, weeping and looking into the tomb to see where they had laid his body. She sees Jesus but still does not recognize him. Finally Jesus reveals himself to her as he calls her by her name: "Mary!" This narrative of the resurrection reminds us that we come to the full understanding of the resurrection not through our intelligence but purely through the gift of the Spirit. Left on our own we look for the Lord in the wrong places, among the dead. Even when the Lord comes to us we are sometimes so caught up in our own world that we fail to recognize him. But the good news is that the Lord does not give up on us. He will reveal himself to us and call us by name so that like Mary we can say: "I have seen the Lord!" and once we have experienced the power of the resurrection nothing will ever be the same again.
My son is alive!
There was a Russian Cossack, who had two sons in the First World War. Their names were Peter and Gregory. One day the father got a letter from the front. Being unable to read he handed it to his daughter. It was from Gregory's commanding officer and began like this: "I regret to inform you that your son Gregory was killed in action on July 10th. Gregory was an excellent soldier and died the death of the brave. You have every reason to be proud of him, etc." The effect of this news on the father was immediate and alarming. He seemed to wilt visibly. In a matter of days he aged, turning grey almost overnight. His memory began to fail and even his mind was affected. He began to drink to excess. He kept the letter under an icon in the kitchen. Each day he would take it down and ask his daughter to read it to him once more. After the local priest had offered a Requiem Mass for his son he felt a little better, only a little. Twelve days went on like this. On
the thirteenth day a second letter arrived from the front. It contained a fantastic piece of good news. His son wasn't dead after all! He had been wounded and left for dead on the battlefield. Next morning he had come to and crawled four miles back to his own lines, dragging a wounded officer with him. He was to be raised to the rank of a corporal, and had been awarded the Cross of St. George in recognition of his bravery. Right now he was recovering in hospital, and they could expect a visit from him in a month's time. Once again the effect on the father was immediate, except this time it was for the better. He was a sight to see. He was scalded with joy. He grabbed the letter and went into the village with it. He stopped everyone he met. "What do you think?" he would ask. "My son is alive! He's been awarded the St. George's Cross for bravery!" -This story should give us some idea of the joy the disciples experienced on Easter Sunday morning. At the Resurrection the Father as it were cries out: "My son is alive!" As we celebrate this same resurrection we also can cry out: "He is alive! I have seen him! I have experienced His power! We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!
Flor McCarthy in 'Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies'
Witness to the Resurrection
In the darkest days of Stalinist Russia a special League of the Godless was established to stamp out the last vestiges of religion from people's lives. One Easter morning the Commissar of this League addressed a huge rally in Moscow's Red Square. He ranted along his usual lines that religion was the instrument of the bourgeoisie and the opium of the proletariat. At the end of his harangue he generously offered the mike to anyone who wished to debate with him. Nobody wanted a one-way ticket to Siberia until one old man made his way forward. He surveyed his huge audience, cleared his throat and began to sing: "The Lord has risen." It was the traditional Orthodox Easter greeting. Moved by the old man's courage, voices from the square swelled up in reply: "He has truly risen." Religion in Russia was not dead as long as belief in the Resurrection of Christ was not dead in people.
Sylvester O'Flynn in 'The Good News of Mark's Gospel'
Movie director Cecil B. DeMille was drifting in a canoe on a lake reading a book. He glanced from the book momentarily and saw a water beetle crawling up the side of the canoe. When it got halfway up, the beetle stuck the talons of its legs to the wood of the canoe and died. DeMille returned to reading his book. Three hours later he happened to look down at the beetle again and what he saw amazed him. The beetle had dried up, and its back had started to crack open. As he watched something began to emerge from the opening: first a moist head, then wings, then a tail. It was a beautiful dragonfly. As the dragonfly flew away, DeMille took his finger and nudged the dried-out shell of the beetle. It was like a tomb. -This beautiful death-resurrection experience from nature helps us to appreciate better what happened on Easter Sunday.
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'
Risen from the dead
Roger Bolduc was a victim of cancer. Until he died in 1977, he never ceased to believe that his illness was a precious gift from God. Shortly before his death he wrote: "Many things upon which I placed importance in the past seem so trivial now, they just don't seem to matter anymore. This has become precious. God has become so real. I can feel his power - it's always there. I feel that God has answered my prayers." Bolduc concluded by saying that he always knew God loved him, but he had no idea God loved him so much. -This is a beautiful example of the power of the risen Jesus at work in someone's life today. Roger Bolduc literally died and rose spiritually. And so we don't have to wait until we die to share in the risen life and risen power of Jesus. We can share in it right now, at this moment.?
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'
All that God does he does well
Rabbi Moshe took a trip to a strange land. He took a donkey, a rooster, and a lamp. Since he was a Jew, he was refused hospitality in the village inns, so he decided to sleep in the woods. He lit his lamp to study the holy books before going to sleep, but a fierce wind came up, knocking over the lamp and breaking it. The rabbi decided to turn in, saying, "All that God does, he does well." During the night some wild animals came along and drove away the rooster and thieves stole the donkey. Moshe woke up, saw the loss, but still proclaimed easily, "All that God does, he does well." The rabbi then went back to the village where he was refused lodging, only to learn that enemy soldiers had invaded it during the night and killed all the inhabitants. He also learned that these soldiers had traveled through the same part of the woods where he lay asleep. Had his lamp not been broken he would have been discovered. Had not the rooster been chased, it would have
crowed, giving him away. Had not the donkey been stolen, it would have brayed. So once more Rabbi Moshe declared, "All that God does, he does well!"
Jesus gives us Hope
Michael Faraday was a famous scientist. One day his servant came into his drawing room, dropped his silver vessel on the ground and broke it into pieces. Michael collected all the pieces of the vessel and put them into a chemical solution and made one mass of it and then shaped a beautiful cup from the same material. This new creation was much more beautiful than the earlier one. It was the same silver that appeared in a different form. The Resurrection of Christ tells us that our earthly bodies will be transformed into a new life.
Elias Dias in "Divine Stories for Families"
That old man knows the Shepherd
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel truth'
Recognizing the Master
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the gospel truth'
Does anyone care?
Mark Link in 'Decision'
Gary Thomas, Christian Times, October 3, 1994, p. 26.
Well over three hundred verses are concerned with the subject of Jesus' resurrection in the New Testament. We are told that this event is a sign for unbelievers (Matthew 12:38-40); cf. John 20:24-29) as well as the answer for the believer's doubt (Luke 24:38-43). It serves as the guarantee that Jesus' teachings are true (Acts 2:22-24; 1 Corrinthians 15:12-20) and is the center of the gospel itself (Romans 4:24-25, 10:9; 1 Corrinthians 15:1-4). Further, the resurrection is the impetus for evangelism (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 10:39-43), the key indication of the believer's daily power to live the Christian life (Rom. 6:4-14, 8:9-11; Phil. 3:10) and the reason for the total commitment of our lives (Rom. 7:4; 1 Cor. 15:57-58). The resurrection even addresses the fear of death (John 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:54-58; cf. Hebrews 2:14-15) and is related to the second coming of Jesus (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7). Lastly, this event is a model of the Christian's resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and provides a foretaste of heaven for the believer (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 1:3-5). For a popular treatment that addresses these and other aspects, see Gary R. Habermas, The Centrality of the Resurrection.
Gary R. Habermas & J.P. Moreland, Immortality - The Other Side of Death, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992, p. 245.
In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. He didn't profess to be a born-again Christian, but it seems he must have been influenced by Paul's teaching of the resurrection of the body. Here's what he wrote: The Body of B. Franklin, Printer Like the Cover of an old Book Its contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Guilding, Lies here, Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ'd, Appear once more In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended by the Author.
Little Philip, born with Down's syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls. Typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences, according to an article in leadership magazine. But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully.
The Sunday after Easter the teacher brought L'eggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs. Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that lovely spring day, find some symbol for new life, and put it in the egg-like container. Back in the classroom, they would share their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in surprise fashion. After running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table. Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one. After each one, whether a flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh.
Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, That's stupid. That's not fair. Somebody didn't do their assignment."
Philip spoke up, "That's mine."
"Philip, you don't ever do things right!" the student retorted. "There's nothing there!"
"I did so do it," Philip insisted. "I did do it. It's empty. the tomb was empty!"
Silence followed. From then on Philip became a full member of the class. He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose egg.
If we stay in mourning, we lose so much of life.
Henry Simon, Belleville, Illinois.
Why We Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead:
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the Christian faith is a foolish fantasy. However, if the resurrection of Christ did occur, it confirms His life, message, and atoning work. It is the basis of our hope of life beyond the grave. Christ is alive, and the evidence is overwhelming. Here are some of the reasons we can be so sure.
1. Jesus predicted His resurrection (Matt 16:21; Mark 9:9-10; John 2:18-22).
2. The Old Testament prophesied it (Psalm 16:10; compare Acts 2:25-31; 13:33-37).
3. The tomb was empty and the grave clothes vacant. if those who opposed Christ wished to silence His disciples, all they had to do was produce a body, but they could not (John 20:3-9).
4. Many people saw the resurrected Christ. They looked on His face, touched Him, heard His voice, and saw Him eat (Matt. 28:16-20; Luke 24:13-39; John 20:11-29; John 21:1-9; Acts 1:6-11; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).
5. The lives of the disciples were revolutionized. Though they fled and even denied Christ at the time of His arrest, they later feared no one in their proclamation of the risen Christ (Matt 26:56, 69-75).6. The resurrection was the central message of the early church. The church grew with an unwavering conviction that Christ had risen and was the Lord of the church (Acts 4:33; 5:30-32; Rom. 5:24).
6. Men and women today testify that the power of the risen Christ has transformed their lives. We know that Jesus is alive not only because of the historical and biblical evidence but also because He has miraculously touched our lives.
Kurt E. DeHaan.
Order of the Events of the Resurrection
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome start for the tomb, Lk 23:55-24:1
They find the stone rolled away, Lk 24:2-9
Mary Magdalene goes to tell the disciples, Jn 20:1-2
Mary, the mother of James, draws near and sees the angel, Mt 28:1-2
She goes back to meet the other women following with spices
Meanwhile Peter and John arrive, look in and depart, Jn 20:3-10
Mary Magdalene returns weeping, sees two angels, then Jesus, Jn 20:11-18
The risen Christ bids her tell the disciples, Jn 20:17-18
Mary (mother of James) meanwhile returns with the women, Lk 24:1-4
They return and see the two angels, Lk 24:5; Mk 16:5
They also hear the angel's message, Mt 28:6-8
On their way to find the disciples, they are met by the risen Christ, Mt 28:9-10
To Mary Magdalene Jn 20:14-18; Mk 16:9
To the women returning from the tomb Mt 28:8-10
To Peter later in the day Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5
To the disciples going to Emmaus in the evening Lk 24:13-31
To the apostles (except Thomas) Lk 24:36-45; Jn 20-19-24
To the apostles a week later (Thomas present) Jn 20:24-29
In Galilee to the seven by the Lake of Tiberias Jn 21:1-23
In Galilee on a mountain to the apostles and 500 believers 1 Cor 15:6
At Jerusalem and Bethany again to James 1 Cor 15:7
At Olivet and the ascension Acts 1:3-12
To Paul near Damascus Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor 15:8
To Stephen outside Jerusalem Acts 7:55
To Paul in the temple Acts 22:17-21; 23:11
To John on Patmos Rev 1:10-19
Merril F. Unger, The New Unger's Bible Handbook, Revised by Gary N. Larson, Moody Press, Chicago, 1984, pp. 397-398.
The film Amadeus ends showing the funeral of the great musician Mozart. He died at the age of 35. A genius, he never re-copied his compositions. He never had to make corrections, so the first draft was also the final copy. A genius, he started playing several instruments at the age of four, wrote several symphonies by the age of eight and created at least 528 musical compositions before he died at age 35. He was a genius, whom one authority calls "one of the brightest stars in the musical firmament." What a waste, that he should have died so young! It makes you wonder: is this life all there is? Imagine a beloved spouse, a darling parent or grandparent, a close friend, lying cold in the coffin. Is this life all there is? We try to comfort ourselves with the doctrine of the resurrection. We say: the genius of people like Mozart is not going to be wasted. The love of dear ones - the squeeze of their hands and the music in their voices - that love will be enjoyed in even greater intensity. A Sadducee in Jesus’ time might say, "I don't believe it; the doctrine is absurd." That was the point the Sadducees wanted to make by challenging Jesus with an absurd story of a woman who married seven husbands, in today’s gospel. (From Tony Kadavil's collection)
Fr. Tony Kadavil:
The Consul, after hearing of the death of the mother-in-law, told George that the sending of a body back to the States for burial is very, very expensive. It could cost as much as $5,000. The Consul continued, “In most cases the person responsible for the remains normally decides to bury the body here. This would only cost $150.” George thought for some time and answered, “I don’t care how much it will cost to send the body back; that’s what I want to do.”
Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear through his side…put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens.” Sincerely, Charles.
Humor for Easter
Nothing is certain except vat and taxes?!?
Lasting Palm Sunday Impressions
My wife planned an activity for our two and one-half year old daughter during the week following Palm Sunday. After having her cut and paste brightly colored construction paper coats and palm branches on a picture of Jesus riding into Jerusalem, she spread coats in our hallway, and the three of us walked over them, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" A couple of days later, we reminded Jamie that the following Sunday was Easter. "Do you know what that means?" her mother asked. "Yes!" Jamie chirped enthusiastically. "We're going to church, and Jesus is going to come and walk on our coats!"
Good Friday Humor
This is a true story, told to me by a Sunday School teacher: She was teaching the children about the meaning of Good Friday and asked the group if any of them knew what happened to Jesus on that day. "Sure," piped up a little boy, "he got hammered!"
The Gravestone Message
The following caption was found written on a gravestone...
"As I am now, you soon shall be, so be content to follow me."
Then someone taped the following note on that gravestone...
"To follow you I'm not content, until I know which way you went!"
This happened a couple of Easters ago.
He comes to church once a year--always on Easter. I'm glad to have this local rancher join us in worship and I shook his hand heartily as he left the church.
"Great to worship with you today!" I said.
"Really?" he responded.
"Sure. It's always good to have you with us on Easter," I said.
He scratched his head. "Well, maybe I'd come more often if you'd preach about something different!" -- Rev. E. Marie Gasau
One Easter, a family (Mom, Dad, boy age 9) that seldom went to church, decided to go. After church the Mom said, "I thought the choir was a little off key." The Dad said, "Well, the preacher's message was bland, too." Whereupon the boy said, "I thought they put on a pretty good show for the nickel you put in the collection plate." BB-AL
This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Jones to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
In the Secret Service
A gentleman was in front of me coming out of church one day. The preacher grabbed him by the hand, pulled him aside and said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!"
My friend replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor."
The Pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?"
He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service. "