- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 16, 2006

The following are excerpts from a sermon preached yesterday at the Church in Bethesda by the Revs. April Vega and Robert Kang.

Mrs. Vega: [The Resurrection] is told in some way on every Easter Sunday. We can imagine the whole city shut down for the Sabbath on Saturday. As soon as the sun had risen, the women who had been following Jesus rushed out to where he had been buried. I imagine them, up all night, struck with grief and horror at what had taken place in the days before. And so as soon as they get to the tomb and see the stone rolled away, they meet a stranger who tells them the impossible, that the one they had loved so much wasn’t dead anymore. It’s a miracle story.

You can imagine, they probably didn’t know what to do with this announcement from the stranger; they probably had a hard time even believing it. The story says they were terrified and amazed. And in the quiet of the early dawn, the women flee home. We see here the beauty, the drama, the weirdness, and, as we know from later stories, most people, even the disciples, couldn’t believe this kind of story at first.

Mr. Kang: And can we be honest here — it’s a story that is hard to believe, right? Really, its an unbelievable story. And what doesn’t help us is that nothing else really changed. It didn’t have some cataclysmic effect — the Romans were still in power, nothing changed for the poor, those suffering with illness, basically, everything remained the same. And unfortunately, we live in that same broken world today. Wars continue to rage. Can you believe that genocide continues to be a problem today? We still have the poor, and we continue to lay victim to diseases and natural disasters. So Jesus is resurrected, yet the oppressive powers still exist today. Our world is still broken.

So what was it that so excited the people of this time to tell the story, to remember it, to proclaim Jesus as God?

Mrs. Vega: Jesus’ Resurrection told the people who came to the tomb and who heard about this from their friends something very different about God and something different about Jesus, too. The Resurrection showed them that Jesus and everything he taught and everything he shared had more power than death.

Here, we have a story of a man resurrected, in the flesh. The story we have here isn’t a story about Jesus hightailing it out of this earth when things got messy and going straight into heaven.

And you know, if Jesus would have just returned as a spirit, that wouldn’t have been anything worth getting excited about. It wouldn’t have sparked this little group of followers that eventually grew into the Church. But what the Resurrected Jesus told the people then — and tells us now — is that God isn’t just about providing some escape-hatch heaven to get us or Him out of this world. This is not the foundation that grew the Christian faith. No, it tells us that God would choose to be alive right here in this world, be active here, keep up relationships here. It tells us that God is concerned about resurrecting this world, not just getting us out of it.

Mr. Kang: This is the Good News. This is the message of Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is here and now. Hope is not about waiting for the expressway to heaven by enduring through the brokenness of life. But life in God, living with the Resurrection of Jesus, invites us to live in a way that understands the Spirit of God is moving and at work in our world. The Resurrection of Jesus tells us that nothing in this world is beyond the presence of God. We can have real hope in the resurrection of this world; we can believe that the kingdom of heaven is truly here and now.

Mrs. Vega: Jesus was handed over to death and Resurrected. We know through this story that when we give our whole selves to the one who created us, when we step into the life that is offered in Christ, God will continue to re-create us, to make us for this new world. And it means that we have a hand in this world, with God. It means that God lives in this world with us, and He gives us the power, through Him, to bring resurrection to all of the death and violence and injustice surrounding us constantly. Our relationship with God makes us sort of agents of resurrection.

Mr. Kang: Everyone, the hope of salvation is upon us, the hope of glory is within us. Resurrection in us and through us to our world, this is the Good News we celebrate today. Let us embrace this hope in our lives and release it to become agents of hope for the good of our world.

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