The Rev. Adele K. Langworthy, preaching
Easter Courtyard Service
Christ is Alive!
Think about where you were last Sunday, and what has come your way this week. My guess is that for some of you, things went as you had hoped; while for others of you it was filled with unexpected moments—both good and bad; and for still others of you, you may have dreaded the hardship and pain you knew you would face.
Just last Sunday, we were celebrating Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. He knew what his week would bring—money changers in the temple, a last meal with his friends, the betrayal by someone close to him and the crowds, a trial, a crown of thorns, a whipping, his crucifixion and his descent into hell—and he didn’t run the other way! He faced it head on!!
When his side was pierced, blood and water poured out. He really died! He was put in a tomb and laid to rest—and then three days later when some women went to put spices on the body—they found the tomb open, the body gone, and two men in dazzling clothes telling the news that Jesus is risen! He had the greatest comeback of all time!!
I am not sure if Peter doubted the women or was excited to hear that everything his friend, Jesus, had said was true. But what I do know is that when Peter heard the news, he went to see for himself. Yes, the linen cloths were empty, the body was gone. He wasn’t sure about what had taken place… an amazing comeback? scripture fulfilled?
We know today without a doubt, that Jesus came back to save us. We know that his comeback was and is amazing. Jesus passed through the hardship and darkness of his life to let us know that with God, everything is okay. Good comes out of the darkness and leads us into the light of hope.
That reminds me of Bethany Hamilton. The movie ‘Soul Surfer’ was made to tell her story. Born and raised on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany was a natural surfer already winning competitions and securing endorsements as a pre-teen. In 2003, at the age of 13, her promising future appeared to be in jeopardy when a 15-foot tiger shark bit off her left arm in a well-publicized attack. The fact that she survived—despite losing 60 percent of her blood—is a miracle; the way she has thrived ever since is astonishing—Surviving the attack, getting back on a surfboard and in the water just three weeks later, finding her balance with just one arm and eventually becoming one of the top professional women’s surfers in the world. Early in 2011, she was ranked in the top 25. (Christianity Today) Bethany was a strong Christian when it happened and became a stronger Christian through her experience. She thanks God that she has the opportunity to touch so many more people with her faith and encourage people in their journey that she would not have had, had she not been attacked by the shark. What an amazing comeback she experienced by the power of God! So much life came out of the darkness of that attack!
You know, that reminds me of the movie Courageous. (The movie lives up to the power of its name). Throughout the movie a group of men, mostly policemen, undergo several hardships throughout their lives : from the death of a daughter, the struggle for providing for their family, to the temptation of dishonesty. These men began to reflect on their own lives, they began to realize the importance it is to follow God and to teach the younger generations the importance to rely on God even in the moment where their seems to be no light. The movie shows that although God doesn’t promise an explanation as to why things may happen, he does promise to walk through the pain with us. You see our hope today is found in the fact that Jesus is no longer entombed. He lives, and because he lives, we live. Because he lives, the grieving broken heart has hope and reason to rejoice.
It is so important that we hold on to that message from Easter because so often people find it hard to have hope in the midst of pain. I remember when I had a family member who had a hard time coping with the death of someone close to her. She turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with the loss. It was over a year of being high almost on a daily basis before she realized that she needed help. She got herself in such a deep dark place that she couldn’t see the light that God shone her way through Jesus. She forgot about his love for her because she allowed the pain to take control. In a weak moment, she let her guard down, and God in. She realized that her only hope was in God and through God. She needed to remove herself from her current friends and environment to get to a new place in life. Taking the plunge into a new chapter was difficult and scary; and staying committed to the change would only be through prayer and hanging out with people whom she spiritually trusted. Years later, she works with others to help bring them into a place of hope and restoration, that they, like her might get to celebrate their own personal comeback made possible by the gift of an empty tomb.
As for many of you who know me, I am not someone to focus on the darkness of life, but just because there is a smile on my face that doesn’t mean that everything is always okay and I myself am not in a moment of darkness. There have been several times in my life where I have questioned God and sometimes I felt no point in going through what I was facing or battling the battle I needed to fight—whether it was with my parents, siblings, or my troublesome nieces and nephews that sure do know how to bug at the right times. What I have come to realize though, is that God is with me through the darkest of times and the smile on my face is a witness of this belief. On days like today I live up to the word ‘Courageous’ and believe that God does things for a purpose. I am courageous to speak here in front of you today, and to face whatever comes my way, because I believe that I am not the one carrying all the weight alone. I have God and I have people whom I spiritually trust in my life. And with that said, I need nothing more to make my own comebacks each and every day!
It is Anabel’s and my hope for each of you, that you might look at the hardships you face as opportunities for God to work in your situation so that you might have your own comeback, and you might be a witness to the world of God’s amazing power.
From a bulb there comes a flower
In the seed, an apple tree
There’s a dawn in every darkness,
bringing hope to you and me.
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life eternity.
In our death, a resurrection;
At the last, a victory.
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.
A cross, a death, seemingly utter darkness
A life, a hope, an amazing comeback.