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I’m not about to let his grace go to waste (Easter sermon, 2006)

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Welcome! Here’s what we did for worship on Easter Sunday 2006. It was short and sweet – and short is not my strong suit!
See also We believe in the resurrection … don’t we?, the 2007 Easter sermon]

Easter Sunday, April 19, 2006

Reading: John 20: I saw the Master!
Christ, the Lord, Is Risen Today, No. 154
Crown Him With Many Crowns, No. 162
Prayer – Monte
Song: If I Stand Dan and Pat

Take MSG Bible; arrange sheet as if discarded shroud and pillowcase as “kerchief” on table in center of room. Walk around it during first reading. Musicians begin on platform, but wait through first reading

* * * * * * *

Easter Sunday, April 19, 2006

MONTE: He Is Risen!
ALL: He Is Risen, Indeed!

MONTE: Here’s the story: [John 20:1-18* Read it from hand-held Bible]

1Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. 2She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him.”

3Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. 4They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. 5Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, 7and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. 8Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. 9No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. 10The disciples then went back home.

11But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. 13They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”

“They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” 14After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.

15Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”

16Jesus said, “Mary.”
Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”
17Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.'”

18Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her.

Christ, the Lord, Is Risen Today, No. 154
Crown Him With Many Crowns, No. 162




Mary told her story that first Easter. And everybody she told was Jewish.

Not too long after that, a series of startling events landed Peter in a place he’d never been before: the house of a non-Jew. The place was the house of Cornelius, a Roman military officer. Suddenly, Peter had one of those moments when he realized that the story was bigger than they’d known. Worlds bigger. It broke over his heart in waves: this was no longer a Jewish thing. Jesus died for the whole world.

Hear your story beginning, as Peter tells his to non-Jews like us for the first time ever. Here he is at Cornelius’ house:

Acts 10:34-43*

34Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! 35It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from–if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. 36The Message he sent to the children of Israel–that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again–well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.37″You know the story of what happened in Judea. It began in Galilee after John preached a total life-change. 38Then Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.

39″And we saw it, saw it all, everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed him, hung him from a cross. 40But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen. 41Not everyone saw him–he wasn’t put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand–us! We were the ones, there to eat and drink with him after he came back from the dead. 42He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that he is in fact the One whom God destined as Judge of the living and dead. 43But we’re not alone in this. Our witness that he is the means to forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of all the prophets.”

And the story of the resurrection gets told again in Scripture a couple of decades later. In this one, St. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. Pastor Sharon and I are going to give you a paraphrase of it.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11*
[Monte and Sharon read this paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11]

Monte: Friends, let Pastor Sharon and me go over the Message with you one final time–

Sharon: this Message that we proclaimed and that you made your own;

Monte: this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved.

Sharon: We’ve seen, now, that your belief was the real thing and not a passing fad, that you’re in this for good and holding fast.

Monte: The first thing we did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before us:

Sharon: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it;

Monte: that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day,

Sharon: again, exactly as Scripture says;

Monte: that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time …

Sharon: He then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him, and that he finally presented himself alive to Paul.

Monte: Paul always thought it was fitting that he bring up the rear. He didn’t think he deserved to be included in that inner circle, since he spent all those early years trying his best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.

Sharon: But because God was so gracious, so very generous, there he was, and here we are. And we’re not about to let his grace go to waste.

Monte: But even though we have worked hard, we know our own work doesn’t amount to all that much.

Sharon: It was God giving us the work to do, God giving us the energy to do it.

Monte: So whether you heard it from one of us or from others, it’s all the same:

Sharon: We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives.

The message today is a simple one. You’ll see it at the bottom of your handout: But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste.

Sharon and I believe God has spoken to you. What has he said, this past year or two? What is it that he’s put deep within your heart? What have you learned from him that is a call to how your life is lived? For that is the thing you don’t want to let go to waste. What is the big thing that you know from God about yourself and him, that you’ve learned in the last year or two? Would you write it? I’ll give you a few minutes of silence to reflect. [pencils?]

Patrick and Dan have a Rich Mullins song that’s about not wasting God’s grace. I’ve put a few of the lines on your handout.

Benediction – Sharon
Psalm 118*

1Thank GOD because he’s good, because his love never quits.
2Tell the world, Israel,
“His love never quits.”14GOD’s my strength, he’s also my song,
and now he’s my salvation.
15Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs
in the camp of the saved?
“The hand of GOD has turned the tide!
16The hand of GOD is raised in victory!
The hand of GOD has turned the tide!”

17I didn’t die. I lived!
And now I’m telling the world what GOD did.
18GOD tested me, he pushed me hard,
but he didn’t hand me over to Death.
19Swing wide the city gates–the righteous gates!
I’ll walk right through and thank GOD!
20This Temple Gate belongs to GOD,
so the victors can enter and praise.

21Thank you for responding to me;
you’ve truly become my salvation!
22The stone the masons discarded as flawed
is now the capstone!
23This is GOD’s work.
We rub our eyes–we can hardly believe it!
24This is the very day GOD acted–
let’s celebrate and be festive!

May God bless you as you refuse to let his grace go to waste this week!

*Scripture is from The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
, , , , , , Monte Asbury


Written by Monte

April 19, 2006 at 12:16 pm

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