Easter Sermon - Pastor Bjornstad

For the first time in 60 years, Easter has fallen on April Fools day!

And for so many of our friends and aquaintences, it is very appropriate...

It isn't that they would laugh that the Easter Eggs that the children are hunting for outside at this very moment are filled with broccoli and sour grapes instead of chocolate, or that the eggs are not hard boiled... but raw!  Oh no!  They would not laugh at such shenanigans...

But you do know many folks who are laughing on this April Fools day - perhaps even your husband or wife, your neighbor and co-worker, your son or daughter.  They giggle politely under their breath and think it a joke that Jesus actually cast off his death....  They would smirk at the idea that he IS the savior of the world... that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son... We suffer their quiet thin smiles of derision as best we can - even as we try to hide our Christian faith.  

But, say, if you are a young Christian at a university, the derisive laughter peals much more bravely through its judgement courts.  At the university many  openly scoff at the idea that the universe was created and that we have a soul and that we are morally culpable and responsible for our sin.  So many condescending chuckles can be heard at the thought that there is actually a good and evil, right and wrong.  "April Fools" they say!  The world thinks it is hilarious that there might be a meaning to life and that God has a loving purpose for each of us.  They think it funny that we would be created in the image of God and that each of us are precious in His sight...  That he actually listens to our prayers and that he cares about our every day life, and that He holds our future in His hands, and that nothing, neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Now, how is this funny?  How are these things a joke?  No!  They are not a joke!  They are MONUMENTAL AND BEAUTIFUL!  These are the truths that are the subject of legends and that will stand for the ages.  These are the laws that hold up the sun and keep the stars in their places.  They are the axioms and principles by which strong men and women who are at the same time sinners and saints will nurture families and build communities and nations.  These are the eternal truths by which we will be blessed for all eternity.

He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!  Amen!

Paint me with bold colors, please, as one convicted of the crime of being a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ!  I am, as the bible says, a fool for Christ!  Will you not be one with me?

I am a fool for Christ.  I am a fool for love.  I am a fool for peace and joy.  I am a fool for forgiveness and perfect righteousness.  And I am also at the same time a poor, miserable, foolish sinner who needs a perfect savior.  I am one who literally lives  and dies to laugh with all the saints in heaven and on earth on this most blessed Easter morning!

Yes, we laugh!  We laugh as Christians this Easter not with scorn and derision, but with joy and blessedness in our voices.  Yes, we laugh a hearty and genuine laugh because Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Amen!

The skeptics will declare that Easter is just too good to be true.  It is so unrealistic they stew.  Nothing else in life is such a given... that our sins would be so freely forgiven - and that at the Judgement Day the Hounds of Heaven would Harangue Hell itself... punishing every evil and righting every wrong.  They snicker at the bicker that our bodies would rise from our graves and be surprised by grace.

Oh but Hallelujah! It is terrifically true!  The pounding, throbbing, pulsing heart of God in Christ Jesus came to life again that first chaotic Easter Dawn.  The women were delirious and momentarily piteous...  But how mysterious that moment was when the fleshly heart of heaven stirred from its deathly sleep and our Lord slipped out of his keep.  His heartbeat reverberates even now throughout all the majestic heavens and signals the doom of the dastardly devil.

Now... all of this might surprise you!  You might have heard that the essence of being a Christian is being a good, moral, upright person... But what does our Epistle lesson today tell us?  St. Paul tells us our faith is not about you or I or how good or bad we are.  Let me repeat that!  The Christian faith is not about you!  It is about God!  He is the center of the universe... not us!  And more specifically, the Christian faith is centered on the fact that God took on human form with the expressed purpose of dying to live.  The Christian faith is centered on Christ's victory over sin, death, and the devil.  St. Paul writes:

1 Cor. 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scripture...

Hallelujah!  Praise God!  You and I... we have been so gloriously swept up in the Sweeping Salvation history... of Jesus the Christ.  Yes, it is true:  Even as through one man, Adam, and his sin, we have all been condemned... so now, through one man, Jesus, we have been redeemed!  We have been forgiven and the gates of heaven have been thrown open.

No foolin!  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Jesus Christ crucified and risen for sinners:  THIS is the heart of the Christian faith...  Good Friday and Easter.  There is no greater joy in heaven and on earth.

And having now risen he lives and reigns eternally!  He reigns over you this day, marking you with His salvation...

Yes, God has Marked you as redeemed in your baptism.

Marked you redeemed in your daily lives.

You are Marked with Christ in your doubting and troubles

You are Marked with Christ in your joys

You are Marked in your family

You are Marked in your work

You are Marked in your leisure

You are Marked as you carry your crosses in life

You are Marked with Christ in your sickness

You are Marked with Christ as you walk though the valley of the shadow of your death

And, Indeed!  Praise the Lord!  You are Marked in your resurrection on the last day!  

Yes, you have been Marked for Judgement Day and the voice from of old, from ancient of times, will call YOUR NAME and you will rise from your grave and be lifted up to view your life.  And he will say "Come, you who are blessed by my Father", "Come, ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you eternal rest!"

Indeed, we are Marked by Jesus permanently and eternally!

Now, some people will say to me:  "Pastor, thanks for everything, but I just don't think God is for me."  Oh my friend!, He most certainly IS FOR YOU!

No foolin!  And if God is for you, who can be against you?

No foolin!  He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia, Amen!


Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus.  Fools for Christ.  Be encouraged today.  There is only one person that has egg on his face - and that is the devil himself.  We can spit in his face and laugh at his empty taunts because the tomb is empty!  We have Easter!  We have a Savior who has gone before us to the place we deserve and HE has suffered eternally for our sins...  We have a savior who has also risen, gone through the heavens and sits at the right hand of God.  He will come again and take us to be with him.  He will sit with us at the great eternal wedding feast, and as Isaiah prophesied in Chapter 25: 

"He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken."


And so we lift up our voices today as we will forever, and we will sing the melody of all the ages:

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him;

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

He is risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Amen!

 

© Peace Lutheran Church 2016