A Word from the Pastor:
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church:
Here’s my Easter Sunday sermon. I regret to say that it is not for you. But it is for you to share with a friend, neighbor or family member who does not worship on Easter Sunday.
Easter Sunday Sermon
A funny thing happened on my way to Easter Sunday worship today: The Herald, Zion’s church newsletter became my pulpit. If you are not surrounded by Easter lilies and choirs with morning sunlight falling through stained glass windows then, “Blessed are you.” In fact, if Christ’s rising from the dead sounds like so much nonsense, you are in good company. When women, the first preachers of the Easter event told their story to the apostles and disciples, “these words seemed to them an idle tale.” Why should it be different for you?
Whether you are submerged in your Sunday newspaper or coming down from your sugar high after bingeing on chocolate bunnies --- here’s an Easter sermon you deserve to hear.
I use the word “deserve” intentionally; it is stronger than “needs,” as if the gospel were an unpleasant medicine you have to swallow. It is more like, “You’ve got to hear this!” “For God so loved the world….” You are loved. God loves the whole world, this beautiful, battered, fragile, fractured world. This is the good news of Easter: the One who is love, was raised from the dead, and his Spirit is now loose in the world. It’s not only life, but love that is stronger than death.
For Easter to be Easter, love needs to embrace our deep hurts, broken hearts and dying spirits. Easter calls us into the opioid crisis; homelessness; resurgence of white nationalism and racism; death penalty; families torn apart by detention/deportation; suicide; hate crimes; mistreatment, sexual harassment and assault on women; red air day; dying alone; 17 minutes of silence.
Like the first Easter morning, we join the women at the tomb, the realm of death. But we do not remain there. Death may have the last word, but it is not the final word. Easter compels us to see signs of new life even in places where life is diminished and dying.
Viktor Frankl remembers Jews in death camps who, though condemned, walked among others, comforting them, giving away their last pieces of bread. In the midst of death, they chose life. We see it on children’s posters, with drawings that call us to celebrate the beauty of God’s good creation. Emma Gonzalez, called us into the heart-wrenching six minutes and twenty seconds in Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. Still, with broken hearts, we March for Our Lives. First Unitarian Church and SLC Sanctuary Network stand for welcome, providing safe haven and new life for a mother and her children. Follow Pamela Atkinson (Utah’s Mother Teresa) as she tirelessly organizes new ways for us to love “our homeless friends.” Feel the compassion shared by volunteers, sitting with hospital patients who have no family or friends as they near end of life. Come visit this community of faith in Zion. Here you will meet Art Sutherland, a tireless advocate for those who are poor. Enjoy Verna Hanson’s heart-felt greeting. If you are lucky, you will be on the receiving end of her chocolate chip cookies, shared in times of celebration and sorrow.
Thank you for listening. By now you may have noticed that Easter is about life with a love that is stronger than death. Easter love reaches deep into our broken world and loves our broken hearts into new life. Choose love and life. But, know that you are loved, even if your Easter means eating another chocolate bunny.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
CONNECTING THROUGH GRACE
We are a Reconciling in Christ community. All are welcome!
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rocky Mountain Synod
ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
1070 Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108