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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday-Parkrose United Congregation 16/4/17

This Easter Sunday I once again had the privilege of leading the worship service at the Parkrose United Congregation.
This is an outline of the message I gave.
On Friday we followed the scriptures of the events leading up to and the actual crucifixion of Jesus.
The Last Supper, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemene,the betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pontius Pilate and the horror of the Crucifixion.
“and darkness fell across the whole land[b] for three hours, until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone—and suddenly[c] the thick veil hanging in the Temple split apart.
46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I commit my spirit to you,” and with those words he died.”
Then there followed some strange things happening in the weather and many people rising from the dead.
The curtain in the Holy of Holies in the temple being rent, torn from top to bottom.
And so we come to Easter Sunday.
What happened next?
A day of celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus was taken down off the cross and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Amirithea.
He was a member of the Sanhedrin who was not present at the vote by his fellow clergy to have Jesus done away with.
He obviously had a high regard for Jesus.
Jesus rose from his grave clothes from within the tomb that was sealed by a massive rock.
No one saw this happen.
It has been said that resurrection power is very quiet.
The rock was later found to have been rolled away and there was no one inside.
The guards who had been placed there were totally baffled.
Then we have accounts of those first at the tomb to discover Jesus was missing.
The core of the story is the same in all the Gospels.
The tomb is visited by a small group of women followers early on the Sunday morning following the crucifixion, and they find the tomb is empty.
They see a vision of Angels saying the tomb is empty.
Then there is a steady stream of witnesses to the fact that Jesus is alive recorded until the time of His ascension into Heaven.
He appeared to the two on the Emmaeus road, to Peter, to James,to all the apostles and the Apostle Paul and the a group of 500 of His followers all at once.
Many witnesses.
The resurrection has indeed happened and did happen.
People might say that it is medically impossible to rise from the dead.
To us from a human standpoint , a medical standpoint, that might be logical but we are not talking here  about our limit of human knowledge in the world of the flesh.
We are talking here about the power of Almighty God for whom nothing is impossible.
I have a friend who is intrigued by Faith and Jesus and the Christian story.
He brings Christianity into our conversations up every now and then, indicating to me that God is speaking to him,
 as he does to so many.
Many people hear the call of God but few choose to follow His voice.
My friend says he can’t believe what he can’t see.
“Unless I can shake His hand I can’t believe!”
Yet for all of us who are Christians this is not a stumbling block!
Why are we so convinced that Jesus is real?
That He is alive today?
That He can speak to us through scripture,(the Bible)?
That He can speak to us through our minds,
That He can speak to our spirit by His Holy Spirit?
That He can speak to us through prayer and we can speak to Him?
That He can speak to us through life’s circumstances?
That He can speak to us through a sermon?
A Christian Book?
Another Christian?
And the list can go on.
For many of us,
 as Christians,
 this is all true,
Not withstanding that at times we have doubts.
We wonder whether it is all real sometimes,
 usually when we are feeling a bit depressed
 or challenged by current circumstances.
There is no doubt that Jesus lived and breathed and walked this earth.
There is no doubt that Jesus was crucified on a cross.
These facts when scrutinised by un biased historians are found to be true.
The stumbling block for many is when it comes to the resurrection.
Our whole basis for faith in Jesus rests on this truth.
Rests on this as fact.
Any other means of us having a basis for faith could well be figments of our imagination.
Without the resurrection of Jesus and our promise of life after death through Him our faith is not going to do too much for us.
Some people think that if we are good and well behaved that’s as much Christian Faith as we need.
Being good of course is a wonderful virtue and can make us feel good and others, but without the resurrection it is just a way of living and not much else.
Some people like my friend,
and ,
like some of the frightened apostles when he appeared to them,
 say they need to touch His hands.
To know Him and Trust Him?
Our reading today says this:
“38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why do you doubt that it is really I? 39 Look at my hands! Look at my feet! You can see that it is I, myself! Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost! For ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!” 40 As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see the marks of the nails,[a] and showed them the wounds in* his feet.
41 Still they stood there undecided, filled with joy and doubt.”
“Undecided, filled with Joy and Doubt.”
And yet they had Him there in front of them!
Isn’t that a good description of how we are lots of times as we live out our Christian lives.
filled with Joy,
 and Doubt.”
There are many people who try to say the resurrection didn’t happen,
That someone stole His body,
That He did not really die,
He just swooned!
We don’t have the time today to go through the reasons,  why the resurrection did happen,
 or examine the overwhelming circumstantial evidence,
and what about the eyewitness accounts of all who saw Him after He had risen..
and the fact that a band of defeated Apostles turned the whole world upside down, as we read in the Book of Acts!
You would hardly think if Jesus had not risen they would have put their lives so much  at risk.
Some times, as we become Christians we do experience emotions and feelings similar to what the two on the emmaeus road felt.
“32 They began telling each other how their hearts had felt strangely warm as he talked with them and explained the Scriptures during the walk down the road.”
We might, or we might not have a warm and “fuzzy” experience when we encounter Jesus, but either way,
do we need to be able to see His hands before we will believe?
I think not!
The reason we don’t need to see His hands is that on the day of Pentecost as Jesus had promised the Apostles, He sent the Holy Spirit to be made available to live in the hearts and minds and spirits of all who put their trust in Him.
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the assurance that all the promises of God are true.
We can’t see Him but we can see the evidence of his presence and work.
The Bible gives us the analogy that the Holy Spirit is like the wind.
We can’t actually see the wind but we can see where it is blowing.
So as we conclude our Easter celebration, let us be jubilant that the Lord indeed has risen.
That He lives today.
In us and His Church.

 Order of Service

Welcome and Call to worship
Hymn: 159  “Glory to God”
Announcements: Barrie
Bible Reading:  Luke 24:35-49
Hymn:  “There is a redeemer”
Communion: Geoff
Offering and Church Prayer
Hymn: 156 “Thine is the Glory”
Sermon:     “Do we need to see His hands?”
Hymn: 160 “The day of resurrection” Plus “He Lives”
Benediction and vesper

Bible Reading

Luke 24:35-49

35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.

36 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them, and greeted them. 37 But the whole group was terribly frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!
38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why do you doubt that it is really I? 39 Look at my hands! Look at my feet! You can see that it is I, myself! Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost! For ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!” 40 As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see the marks of the nails,[b] and showed them the wounds in* his feet.
41 Still they stood there undecided, filled with joy and doubt.
Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he ate it as they watched!
44 Then he said, “When I was with you before, don’t you remember my telling you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true?” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand at last these many Scriptures! 46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day; 47 and that this message of salvation should be taken from Jerusalem to all the nations: There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me. 48 You have seen these prophecies come true.
49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit[c] upon you, just as my Father promised. Don’t begin telling others yet—stay here in the city until* the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”



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