Bible Text: Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-10 | Preacher: The Rev'd William Klock | Series: The Church Year Therefore Let Us Keep the Feast Colossians 3:1-4, 1Corinthians 5:6-8, and St. John 20:1-10 by William Klock In our Gospel lesson this morning we read St. John's account of that first Easter morning – of Mary's coming to the tomb where Jesus had been laid after being taken down from the cross.  She arrived in the darkness just before sunrise and when she got there she found that giant stone that had been used to seal the tomb's entrance had been rolled away.  She panicked, thinking that someone had stolen Jesus' body.  In the other Gospel accounts we're told that when she went into the tomb she was met by an angel who calmed her and told her that the body wasn't stolen, but that Jesus had actually been raised from the dead.  And so she ran to tell Peter and the other disciples the good news.  When they came they ran into the tomb and, we're told, “saw” the empty linens used to wrap Jesus' body, and that they “believed” what the angel had told Mary. Today we celebrate that empty tomb, but what are the implications of that empty tomb for us?  I think it's easy to understand the implications of Jesus' death – he who was perfect, he who knew no sin, took our sins upon himself and died in payment for them.  When we put our faith – our trust – in Jesus’ sacrifice, we can stand before God and instead of seeing us clothed in the filthy, tattered, and stinking rags of sin, all he sees is the righteousness of Christ.  Instead of being driven away from the holy presence of God by our sin, through Christ we are drawn into his holy presence.  The fellowship with God that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned is restored as Jesus, the second Adam, sheds his blood to wash us clean.  That's what Jesus did for us in his death.  But what about his resurrection? I think most Christians can pretty easily explain why Jesus had to die.  But my experience is that we have a lot of difficulty explaining why his Resurrection was just as necessary.  St. Paul explained the implications of the Resurections to both the Colossian and Corinthian Christians.  Those are the two epistle lessons appointed for Easter. Look at the first with me.  St. Paul writes: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  (Colossians 3:1-4) Not only has our old and sinful self been crucified with Christ – dead and buried in that tomb with him – but we have also been raised with Christ.  His death redeems us from our sins.  Our “old man,” as Paul calls him, was nailed to the cross with Christ and is now dead.  But what then?  You see, there has to be a “new man” to replace him.  It's not enough to forgive our sins and put us on neutral ground before God.  In Christ's resurrection we are raised with him.  Just as our old man died on the cross with Jesus, our new man was born on that first Easter morning.  St. Paul could have written something like this: “If then you have been crucified with Christ, know that your sins are dead, buried with Christ, in the grave.”  There are some that take the Gospel only far, but stop at that point.  “I’m forgiven; that’s enough.  My sins are forgiven and when it comes to heaven, I’m good to go!”  I guess that there’s some comfort in knowing that our sins have been buried with Christ, but if the message stops at that point, there's no hope – nothing to turn our hearts and minds heavenward.  There would be forgiveness, but we’d still be the same sinful people.  There’d be no change.  That’s not the Gospel, it’s only the first part of the story.  Not to mention that without the Resurrection, Paul could tell us that we’ve been forgiven, but what evidence would we have of it?  We’d always be asking, “Was Jesus sacrifice really good enough?  Was it really accepted by the Father?”  Was Jesus really God incarnate or just another guy making that claim like so many others? You see, Jesus’ resurrection solves all those problems.  Because we have died with him, were also raised to new life in him.  Because he was raised from the dead, we know that his sacrifice was acceptable to God – the Father didn’t just leave him in the tomb.  And because he rose again, we see the validation of Jesus’ message that he really was God incarnate – the second person of the Trinity come as one of us.  Jesus resurrection doesn’t leave us forgiven and just on neutral ground before the Father – it’s the Resurrection that credits our account with something positive! It's because of the Resurrection that St. Paul can exhort us saying, “ Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” and “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Those are the two main implications of the Resurrection: First, a calling to a new kind of life – a righteous life lived for God – and, second, a hope for the future – a hope that tells us that there's more to life than the battle we fight here on earth. St. Paul made exactly this point when he wrote to the Corinthian Christians, saying: If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.    But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.  (1 Corinthians 15:17-20) The Gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the source of our new life.  It's what the saints of the Old Testament hoped for and it's what the Old Testament prophets foretold would come.  The Old Testament Law was a reminder of our sinfulness, but in it we only find death.  The Law could never create life where there was death – it tells us what we should be doing, but it doesn't give us a way to do it.  It gives a standard of holiness, but no way to live up to it.  Ultimately it shows us our own sinfulness in light of the perfect and ultimate holiness of God.  It reminds us, when we're tempted to rationalise our sin or think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, that were we to enter the presence of God as we are, we would merit nothing but eternal punishment.  John Bunyan wrote: Run, John, run, the Law commands But gives us neither feet nor hands, Far better news the Gospel brings: It bids us fly and gives us wings. The Gospel message of Easter is what brings life to the dead.  The practical application of the Easter message is found in the second Easter epistle lesson, which also happens to be from St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians: Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?  Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6b-8) Christ as our Passover is a reference to the book of Exodus in the Old Testament.  You all know the story of the ten plagues that God unleashed on Egypt because of Pharaoh’s hardness of heart.  In sending the final plague, God took the life of every firstborn son in Egypt.  The Israelites were spared as they obeyed God's command to sacrifice a spotless, year-old lamb.  The lamb was to be killed, roasted, and eaten and then the blood was painted on the lintel and doorposts of the home as a sign to the Angel of Death to “pass over” that house.  By the blood of an innocent, the Israelites were saved.  Note that they weren't called to make a personal sacrifice, cutting themselves and putting their own blood on the doorposts.  What good was the shed blood of a sinner?  They had to take the life of an innocent animal, guilty of no sin, and paint its blood on the doorposts.  Their salvation was dependent not on themselves, but on the blood of another. And so here the Apostle refers to that ancient event of the salvation of the Jewish people and describes Christ as our Passover lamb.  The first Passover in Egypt pointed to Christ, the perfect Passover lamb.  The Old Testament lamb was only that, a dumb animal, however innocent it may have been.  There was nothing in that animal that could cover human sin, but in making the sacrifice the ancient Israelites made an acclamation of faith and put their trust in the gracious mercy of God to forgive them.  Notice: God warned that his judgement was coming.  If the people would only trust in what he told them to do – to sacrifice a pure lamb and paint its blood on the doorpost, the angel of death would pass by.  Ultimately it was a call to faith. In Christ we see God himself, the Word Incarnate, humbling himself and becoming the perfectPassover sacrifice.  We, too, were prisoners in the land of Egypt and in danger of death.  We were once the captives and slaves of sin, prisoners of the Devil with no hope but an eternity of hell and damnation.  But in Christ we have been delivered and led out of that slavery into a new life in the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God.  St. Peter writes, “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).  As we sing in one of the great Easter hymns: Where the Paschal blood is poured, Death's dark angel sheathes his sword; Israel's hosts triumphant go Through the wave that drowns the foe. Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed, Paschal victim, Paschal bread; With sincerity and love Eat we manna from above. By his sacrifice Christ has bought our freedom from the power of sin and death.  We have the perfect Passover lamb in Christ.  And so it's only “meet and right” that we “celebrate the feast.”  The blood of the first Passover lamb was painted on the doorposts for one night and served as the peoples' redemption for one night, but Christ is always our Passover lamb, as he pleads his shed blood before the Father constantly.  And so shouldn't our celebration be constant too?  I guess the question then is: How do we do that? The Jewish Passover celebration required that the lamb be entirely consumed – nothing was to be left over.  Maybe even more than painting the blood on the doorposts, this was the critical part of the Passover feast.  It's just as critical for us.  The most important thing for us is that we appropriate for ourselves the Passover Lamb.  The eating of the lamb by the Israelites symbolised their appropriation of the blessing given by the lamb.  Not understanding and not knowing about the future Messiah, the greatest symbol for them was the blood on the doorposts, but in eating the lamb they were also symbolically appropriating its sacrifice for themselves.  But where they did it once and did it symbolically, we do it as a spiritual reality and we do it constantly.  We do it by faith.  We rejoice over our Saviour, who died and rose for us.  We claim his promises as our own and live day by day in the grace of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to do his sanctifying work of renewal in our lives.  We set out minds on the things that are above knowing that even if we have not been physically raised to heaven, we have been spiritually raised to new life with Christ and that the Kingdom of God is a reality for us here and now. We are an “Easter People,” not because we celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection as it rolls around the Church's calendar every spring, but because we live daily, hour by hour and minute by minute, the new life that Christ has given us.  We gather for corporate worship each Sunday, because it was on Sunday that Christ rose from the dead – each Sunday is effectively a “mini-Easter.” But more than celebrating Easter once a year or every Sunday, we are to celebrate Easter every day.  As Christians we have life because Christ has become our spiritual sustenance.  Jesus has given us the bread and wine as an illustration of what he has done for us in giving his own body and blood as a sacrifice for sin.  Our physical bodies will never survive without our daily bread and similarly we can never spiritually survive without daily coming to Christ, our Passover lamb, and keeping his feast.  This is the only way that we can be confident and no longer fear death and judgement, devil and hell, because of our sins.  St. Paul is calling us to exercise this faith constantly, in every part of our lives, in every need and temptation.  This is how we appropriate the power of Christ's resurrection: by making our lives a constant celebration of Easter. Whenever we gather together to hear the Gospel preached and to receive the Sacrament, and believe and take comfort in what's offered and sealed to us, we are partaking of our Passover lamb and rejoicing in his resurrection.  Whenever our consciences accuse us and drive us to confess our sin in shame and sorrow, remembering again that on our own we earn nothing but God's anger and judgement, and yet we remember the words, “Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?...It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead for us,” we partake of our Passover lamb and celebrate his feast.  When hard times and difficult situations beat us down and we don't feel like we have anything left and can't go on, but in faith repeat those words, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” in this too we partake of Jesus by faith and celebrate his Passover feast.  When we go to pray and realise how unworthy we are to come before the throne of God, but remember that we pray in the name of Jesus; or when we realise how kind the Lord is and that this grace is ours through Christ, and we lift our hearts in thanksgiving, all this is a celebration of Easter as we take comfort in what Christ has done for us, the Risen One.  In him we rejoice in faith.  When we find ourselves filled with the fear of death and hell and remember that the Risen One has already conquered death and hell, and our hearts and mouths sing St. Paul's song of triumph: “O Death, where is thy sting?  O Grave, where is thy victory?” this is to believe in Christ, the Risen One and to rejoice in his victory. We celebrate Easter as we do all of these things.  The question is: Do we know it?  Do we live with it?  [Maybe you've never taken part in this celebration of Easter.  You may not be a Christian and have never partaken of the new life of the Rise One and been raised to new life yourself.  Christ died and rose for you too.  If you can understand your own sinfulness, you can appropriate new life yourself.  If you can understand that in your natural state, you are separated from the holy presence of God, you too can be reconciled to him through Christ.  You too can take comfort in Jesus.  If there is a hunger in you for God's grace and forgiveness of sins through Christ's death and resurrection, then take your place at the Easter table.  The lamb is prepared also for you.  Eat and partake of him by faith and your soul will be refreshed.]  As Christians we know the celebration of Easter, but we can always know it better.  We can always be more diligent about it.  The more we make use of our Passover lamb, the more like him we will become, the more blessed we will be, and the closer to God we will come.  I urge you, make your life a constant celebration of Easter.  Knowing that we have been raised with Christ, let us daily set our minds on things above, finding new life in our Risen Lord and at his Easter table.  His table is always set and he is always ready for us to join him. Let us pray: Almighty God, through your only Son Jesus Christ you have conquered death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: by your grace put good desires into our minds and, in your mercy, help us to bring them to their fulfilment, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Bible Text: Colossians 3:1-7; John 20:1-10 | Preacher: The Rev'd William Klock | Series: The Church Year Sermon for Easter Day Colossians 3:1-4 & St. John 20:1-10 by William Klock That’s what the Gospel lesson tells us and that’s why we rejoice.  Holy Week takes us on an amazing journey.  We gathered here last Sunday with our praises and our palm branches to hail the Lord of Glory as he came to establish his kingdom.  We gathered Thursday night to see the great King doing the unexpected—humbling himself and washing the feet of his disciples and then taking the bread and wine of the Passover meal and turning it into an object lesson—telling his disciples that to finish the work he had come to do, his body would be broken and his blood poured out.  We were there as Judas betrayed him and he was dragged off by soldiers to the court of the high priest, where he was accused of terrible crimes he’d never committed.  We read about Peter—the man who had just professed his total commitment to his master—who was confronted by the accusers—“You were with Jesus.”—and three times Peter denied him, cursing and swearing and angrily shouting: “I don’t know the man!”  We were here on Friday as Jesus was condemned, brutally beaten and scourged.  We read how he was mocked by the soldiers who threw a dirty cloak on him, put a mock reed sceptre in his hand, and cruelly pressed a crown of thorns onto his head, all while shouting, “Hail!  King of the Jews!”  We were here as they made him drag his own cross through the packed streets, jeered at by the mob, and then nailed to that cross and left hanging in agony to die.  Finally, we saw him taken down from the cross by his disciples and laid to rest in a tomb. Every Holy Week, I try to read these lessons as if I were there—as if I were one of those disciples, not really understanding what was going on.  The stories are so familiar to us that it’s easy to forget what was taking place in the minds of those men and women—women like Mary Magdalene.  St. John tells us that on Sunday morning Mary got up early, before sunrise.  Jesus was dead and she had work to do.  When the Jews buried a body, they wrapped it up in a linen shroud with spices, like myrrh.  Everything had happened so quickly that Jesus’ friends hadn’t had a chance to take care of all the burial rituals.  They had taken him down from the cross, to a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, and wrapped him in linen, but now that a day had passed and it looked like things might have calmed down, Mary was going early in the morning—before the crowds were out, before the time of day when she might run into trouble—so that she could finish the burial process.  And from our perspective, we might as “Why?”  Jesus had said he would rise on the third day.  She should be going on Sunday morning to greet her risen Lord!  But she didn’t understand any of that.  None of them did.  So I can only imagine the state of grief she was in as she travelled the dark road from Bethany to that place just outside the walls of Jerusalem where the tomb was.  Jesus was dead; the man who had offered love and forgiveness to her, a prostitute; the man who had cast seven demons out of her; the man who had changed her life—was dead.  She was going to finish the burial anointing because she was his friend, because she was his disciple, because she wanted to make this one last personal sacrifice to show her love for him. No doubt she was distraught.  Not only was her friend dead, but she and the rest of his disciples had such high hopes for what he had come to do.  He was the Messiah, the King.  He had spent three years telling them how God had sent him to establish his kingdom.  How could any of that happen now?  And so she made her way down into the valley below Gethsemane and below Golgotha in the pre-dawn half-light.  St. Mark tells us that Mary the mother of James and another woman named Salome were with her.  I expect there wasn’t much conversation.  But as they got closer they started asking each other, “Do you think the three of us can manage the stone they rolled in place to seal the tomb?  There are two Romans guarding it; do you think they’ll help?” And that’s when they reached the tomb and stopped in surprise—maybe even cutting off their conversation about the stone mid-sentence, because there was the tomb and the stone was already rolled away!  The soldiers were gone.  And so they rushed forward to look inside the tomb.  It would have had a very small door—you’d have to stoop down, almost on hands and knees to get through into this little tomb cut into the side of the cliff.  And it was empty.  I imagine they probably—at least one of those women—crawled into the tomb to be sure. It was dark.  Maybe it was just that they had forgotten which side of the little tomb his body was on.  It must be there!  Who would take it!  And yet the heavy stone had been rolled away, and when they went in they confirmed: Jesus was gone.  Hadn’t Jesus suffered enough indignities on Friday?  The Jewish authorities or the Romans must have come in the night and taken his body away, as if they hadn’t done enough to poor Jesus already.  Why couldn’t they let him rest in peace. And so, hysterical, Mary ran from the tomb—probably all the way back to Bethany—to find Peter and John.  No doubt they were just as shell-shocked over Friday’s events as Mary was, and now she comes beating on the door of the house where they were staying, and when they opened the door, there she was crying and babbling about Jesus being gone: “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know what they’ve done with him!”  When they realised what Mary was saying, Peter and John were doubtful, but they immediately ran to the tomb.  John tells us that he outran Peter on the way there, he looked down through the door.  Sure enough: no Jesus.  And then Peter caught up.  And Peter looked too: no Jesus.  But to be sure he got down on hands and knees and crawled through that little opening to see for himself what was in the tomb.  The sun was up by now and he could see more—and there on the stone shelf where Joseph had laid Jesus’ body were the graveclothes—the linen shroud and the little cloth that had covered Jesus’ face were there, but not in a jumble as if someone had unwrapped and stolen the body in a hurry, but neatly folded and left there.  Peter backed out.  I’m sure he was confused: “Take a look for yourself, John.  She’s right.  He’s not here, but the shroud’s in there, all neatly folded.”  And John then stooped down and looked for himself.  That’s when John tells us that he himself believed, even though he didn’t yet understand. John would understand—later.  In fact, they all would at Pentecost when Jesus completed his work of redemption by sending his Holy Spirit to create his Church, to knit his people together into his Body, and to give them understanding.  It was then that all the pieces fell into place for Peter—he suddenly understood—and he preached the Gospel to those thousands who were gathered there—he preached that Jesus died for our sins, but that God didn’t leave him dead, but raised him to new life so that we can have a share in his new life.  Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection to life. And friends, that’s the Easter Message.  As I said last night at the Vigil, the Good Friday message is that Jesus has died and paid the price for our sins.  His blood has washed us clean.  We can now enter the Holy of Holies, we can now enter the presence of God on the merits of Jesus—he’s covered the filth of our sins by his own blood-soaked robes.  And that’s why we call it GoodFriday. But, brothers and sisters, as good as Friday is, Sunday is better.  I like to think of it in terms of Baptism.  The water of Baptism represents the blood of Christ that washes away our sins—the Good Friday part of our redemption—but that water in our baptism also represents the pouring into us by Jesus of his own Holy Spirit—his uniting us to himself so that, now being washed from our sins, we can actually start to live out holy lives.  His death declares us righteous.  But by his resurrection, he makes us actually righteous—not just declared righteous in a legal sense—because he regenerates our hearts and begins the process of sanctification. The danger is that we forget that Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday.  Over the centuries, lots of Christians have so stressed the cross—so stressed the fact that through the blood of Jesus shed there we are declared righteous—that they almost forget the empty tomb.  I grew up in that kind of tradition.  When I was in University I wrote a paper for an English class that I titled “The Death of Christ”.  It was my well-meaning, but naïve, attempt at evangelising my atheistic professor.  I wrote all about Good Friday, all about the cross, all about the shed blood of Jesus, all about how that blood redeems us from the penalty of our sins.  It was a five page essay.  When I started I figured I’d better save a half page or so for the resurrection—because I knew that it was important.  But when I got to that last page, I sat there for a long time trying to figure out why the resurrection is important.  In the end, what I wrote was that Jesus’ resurrection was important so that we can be assured that he is God and that, because he is God, his death was truly effective as a sacrifice for our sins.  Now, that is true.  And the resurrection is important for that reason, but the greater reason never even occurred to me—in fact, my atheist professor wrote a note on my paper to the point that I’d missed something at least as important: “You forgot Colossians 3:1.  Look up!”  I was embarrassed, because my professor understood Easter better than I did.  I was so focused on Jesus justifying me at the cross as he paid the penalty for my sins, that I’d hardly given a thought to Easter—to the risen life that was mine in Christ Jesus.  Like a lot of other Christians, it was as if I took Jesus’ last words as he died—“It is finished”—as if there was nothing more to the Christian life.  Jesus died; now I’m saved; Good Friday is the greatest.  It is finished.  Period. St. James warns about this in his epistle when he reminds us that faith without works is dead.  His point is that sanctification—our being made actually holy—will always accompany true saving faith in the cross.  If you are justified, you will be sanctified.  It’s not an either/or situation.  And that’s why in our Epistle from Colossians—that passage that my English professor wrote in the margin of my paper—that’s why there, St. Paul tells us: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1) You see, just a few verses before, Paul wrote that in our baptism we are buried with Jesus—and just as it was inevitable that when Jesus died and was put to rest in the tomb he would also rise to new life, so our baptism not only takes us with him to the grave, but also raises us to new life too.  Easter always follows Good Friday.  We need to realise the reality of the resurrection of Jesus; we need to realise that we take part in it as much as we do his death; and we need to realise—maybe most importantly—that his resurrection has practical implications for us—that it means a changed life on our part. So Paul tells us: You’ve been raised with Christ!  Stop living with your focus on the things of the earth, stop living as if this is all there is, stop living as if all that matters is what’s happening today; and instead, focus your attention on the things of heaven!  As my professor said, “Look up!”  Now we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, but Paul reminds us that at the Ascension, forty days later, the resurrected Jesus returned to heaven to take his place as ruler of his kingdom.  And friends, it’s the heavenly throne of Jesus where we should have our attention focused.  That’s our real home, that’s where our true citizenship lies, that’s where we’ll spend eternity after our short time here—forever in the presence of God.  Paul says in verse 2: Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Have an Easter mind.  Think like Easter people.  Jesus has given you new life through his resurrection.  Start living that life.  Don’t wait.  Live it now. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  (Colossians 3:3-4) Paul points us to the future.  Think about the Gospel we read this morning.  John and Peter and the women stood outside the empty tomb wondering what had happened.  It didn’t occur to them that Jesus had actually risen from the dead.  They thought his body had been stolen.  As John said, they didn’t yet understand.  Understanding came gradually, first as Jesus appeared to them later that day, then as they stared up into heaven as he ascended, and finally as the Spirit was poured out on them on Pentecost—finally, then all the pieces of the Gospel story fell into place for them. Brothers and sisters, you I have all those pieces.  You and I have the Spirit, poured into our lives and connecting us in a living relationship with the resurrected Jesus.  We have no reason not to understand.  St. Paul tells us that Jesus is going to appear again—that he’s going to come back and that when he does we’ll be with him in glory.  And yet even with all this knowledge we still too often stand outside the empty tomb—like I did as I was writing that English paper—and we scratch our heads.  Jesus is gone.  Thanks to the evangelists and the apostles we know the story—we know Jesus wasn’t stolen by the Jews or the Romans.  We know that he was raised and we know that he now sits at the right hand of the Father, ruling over his kingdom.  But we don’t understand—we don’t understand the practical implications that should have on our lives.  We know we’re saved—we’re living in the redeeming love and grace of Good Friday.  And because life in Christ inevitably follows our death with him in baptism, you and I are truly living that new life.  But as long as we don’t understand that, we may be living it, but we’ll never consciously and actively pursue it.  And that’s the difference between Good Friday people who are merely justified—who are still focused on the empty tomb and wondering what the point is—and Easter people who know that a new and grace-fill life is theirs, who set their minds on the things of heaven where our King is, and who actively pursue it.  The disciples had a reason to wonder.  Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, they were truly still only Good Friday people—only justified.  Jesus hadn’t risen yet.  And even after he rose, they were still justified in not fully understanding, because Jesus hadn’t yet sent his Spirit to give them understanding.  But brothers and sisters, we have no reason not to understand.  We are Easter people—and for that matter, we’re Pentecost people too!  Between Friday and Sunday the disciples were left wondering.  We’re now living between that first Easter Sunday and that last Great Day when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead and to take us to glory with him.  Let us not wonder what’s happened.  Let us not waste the new life of grace God has given us as we wonder what all this means.  Let us instead pursue resurrection life.  Let us be living and active witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, by letting the grace it brings us shine out for everyone around us to see. Let us pray: Almighty God, you have conquered death through your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant us by your grace to set our mind on things above, so that by your continual help our whole life may be transformed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with your and the Holy Spirit in everlasting glory.  Amen.
Bible Text: Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-10 | Preacher: The Rev'd William Klock | Series: The Church Year His is Risen...and so are We Colossians 3:1-4 & St. John 20:1-10 by William Klock The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed! Those are happy words.  Those are exciting words.  I think we all know what they mean—they remind us that Jesus is alive.  But as much as we rejoice in saying them—as much as I see a smile on every face on Easter Sunday as we say those words—do we really understand what those words mean for us?  Do we understand their implication for our lives as Christians? Think of our Gospel lesson.  Even with the empty tomb, the disciples didn’t yet understand.  Jesus had taught them for three years—taught them that he was God Incarnate come as one of us to save us from our sins.  On that Thursday before he died he gathered his disciples in that upper room so that he could teach them about his being a humble servant and a sacrifice for sin.  On Thursday night and on Friday they saw the events he had foretold play out—his arrest, his sham trials before the Jewish and Roman officials, his being mocked and beaten, and finally his being crucified.  Brothers and sisters, we gather for our solemn Good Friday service, but we know that Easter is coming.  That’s why we call it Good Friday.  But the disciples didn’t understand yet.  For them it was the Worst Friday Ever. The stories are so familiar to us that it’s easy to forget what was taking place in the minds of those men and women as they went into tearful hiding that Friday—women like Mary Magdalene.  St. John tells us that on Sunday morning Mary got up early, before sunrise.  Jesus was dead and she had work to do.  When the Jews buried a body, they wrapped it up in a linen shroud with spices, like myrrh.  Everything had happened so quickly that Jesus’ friends hadn’t had a chance to take care of all the burial rituals.  They had taken him down from the cross, to a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, and wrapped him in linen, but now that a day had passed and it looked like things might have calmed down, Mary was going early in the morning—before the crowds were out, before the time of day when she might run into trouble—so that she could finish the burial process.  And from our perspective, we might ask “Why?”  Jesus had said he would rise on the third day.  She should be going on Sunday morning to greet her risen Lord!  But she didn’t understand any of that.  None of them did.  So I can only imagine the state of grief she was in as she travelled the dark road from Bethany to that place just outside the walls of Jerusalem where the tomb was.  Jesus was dead; the man who had offered love and forgiveness to her, a prostitute; the man who had cast seven demons out of her; the man who had changed her life—was dead.  She was going to finish the burial anointing because she was his friend, because she was his disciple, because she wanted to make this one last personal sacrifice to show her love for him. No doubt she was distraught.  Not only was her friend dead, but she and the rest of his disciples had such high hopes for what he had come to do.  He was the Messiah, the King.  He had spent three years telling them how God had sent him to establish his kingdom.  How could any of that happen now?  And so she made her way down into the valley below Gethsemane and below Golgotha in the pre-dawn half-light.  St. Mark tells us that Mary the mother of James and another woman named Salome were with her.  I expect there wasn’t much conversation.  But as they got closer they started asking each other, “Do you think the three of us can manage the stone they rolled in place to seal the tomb?  There are two Romans guarding it; do you think they’ll help?” And that’s when they reached the tomb and stopped in surprise—maybe even cutting off their conversation about the stone mid-sentence, because there was the tomb and the stone was already rolled away!  The soldiers were gone.  And so they rushed forward to look inside the tomb.  It would have had a very small door—you’d have to stoop down, almost on hands and knees to get through into this little tomb cut into the side of the cliff.  And it was empty.  I imagine they probably—at least one of those women—crawled into the tomb to be sure. It was dark.  Maybe it was just that they had forgotten which side of the little tomb his body was on.  It must be there!  Who would take it!  And yet the heavy stone had been rolled away, and when they went in they confirmed: Jesus was gone.  Hadn’t Jesus suffered enough indignities on Friday?  The Jewish authorities or the Romans must have come in the night and taken his body away, as if they hadn’t done enough to poor Jesus already.  Why couldn’t they let him rest in peace. And so, hysterical, Mary ran from the tomb—probably all the way back to Bethany—to find Peter and John.  No doubt they were just as shell-shocked over Friday’s events as Mary was, and now she comes beating on the door of the house where they were staying, and when they opened the door, there she was crying and babbling about Jesus being gone: “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know what they’ve done with him!”  When they realised what Mary was saying, Peter and John were doubtful, but they immediately ran to the tomb.  John tells us that he outran Peter on the way there, he looked down through the door.  Sure enough: no Jesus.  And then Peter caught up.  And Peter looked too: no Jesus.  But to be sure he got down on hands and knees and crawled through that little opening to see for himself what was in the tomb.  The sun was up by now and he could see more—and there on the stone shelf where Joseph had laid Jesus’ body were the graveclothes—the linen shroud and the little cloth that had covered Jesus’ face were there.  Why would anyone who wanted to steal Jesus’ body unwrap the shroud and leave it behind?  And if they left it, why did they neatly fold it up?  Peter backed out.  I’m sure he was confused: “Take a look for yourself, John.  She’s right.  He’s not here, but the shroud’s in there, all neatly folded.”  And John then stooped down and looked for himself.  That’s when John tells us that he himself believed, even though he didn’t yet understand. John would understand—later.  In fact, they all would at Pentecost when Jesus completed his work of redemption by sending his Holy Spirit to create his Church, to knit his people together into his Body, and to give them understanding.  It was then that all the pieces fell into place for Peter—he suddenly understood—and he preached the Gospel to those thousands who were gathered there—he preached that Jesus died for our sins, but that God didn’t leave him dead, but raised him to new life so that we can have a share in his new life.  Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection to life. And friends, that’s the Easter Message.  As I said last night at the Vigil, the Good Friday message is that Jesus has died and paid the price for our sins.  His blood has washed us clean.  We can now enter the Holy of Holies, we can now enter the presence of God on the merits of Jesus—he’s covered the filth of our sins by his own blood-soaked robes.  And that’s why we call it Good Friday even thought it’s the day that Jesus was killed. But, brothers and sisters, as good as Friday is, Sunday is better.  I like to think of it in terms of Baptism.  The water of Baptism represents the blood of Christ that washes away our sins—the Good Friday part of our redemption—but that water in our baptism also represents the pouring into us by Jesus of his own Holy Spirit—his uniting us to himself so that, now being washed from our sins, we can actually start to live out holy lives.  His death declares us righteous.  But by his resurrection, he makes us actually righteous—not just declared righteous in a legal sense—because, when he gives us new life, he regenerates our hearts and begins the process of sanctification. The danger is that we forget that Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday.  Over the centuries, lots of Christians have so stressed the cross—so stressed the fact that through the shed blood of Jesus we are declared righteous—that they almost forget the empty tomb.  I grew up in that kind of tradition.  When I was in University I wrote a paper for an English class that I titled “The Death of Christ”.  It was my well-meaning, but naïve, attempt at evangelising my atheistic professor.  I wrote all about Good Friday, all about the cross, all about the shed blood of Jesus, all about how that blood redeems us from the penalty of our sins.  It was a five page essay.  When I started I figured I’d better save a half page or so for the resurrection—because I knew that it was important.  But when I got to that last page, I sat there for a long time trying to figure out why the resurrection is important.  In the end, what I wrote was that Jesus’ resurrection was important so that we can be assured that he is God and that, because he is God, his death was truly effective as a sacrifice for our sins.  Now, that is true.  And the resurrection is important for that reason, but the greater reason never even occurred to me—in fact, my atheist professor wrote a note on my paper to the point that I’d missed something at least as important: “You forgot Colossians 3:1.  Look up!”  I was embarrassed, because my professor understood Easter better than I did.  I was so focused on Jesus justifying me at the cross as he paid the penalty for my sins, that I’d hardly given a thought to Easter—to the risen life that was mine in Christ Jesus.  Like a lot of other Christians, it was as if I took Jesus’ last words as he died—“It is finished”—as if there was nothing more to the Christian life.  Jesus died; now I’m saved; Good Friday is the greatest.  It is finished.  The end. St. James warns about this in his epistle when he reminds us that faith without works is dead.  His point is that sanctification—our being made actually holy—will always accompany true saving faith in the cross.  If you are justified, you will be sanctified.  It’s not an either/or situation.  And that’s why in our Epistle from Colossians—that passage that my English professor wrote in the margin of my paper—that’s why there, St. Paul tells us: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1) You see, just a few verses before, Paul wrote that in our baptism we are buried with Jesus—and just as it was inevitable that when Jesus died and was put to rest in the tomb he would also rise to new life, so our baptism not only takes us with him to the grave, but also raises us to new life too.  As Paul wrote in our Romans 6 Epistle from last night: “If we have been united with him in his death, we shall certainly be united with him in his resurrection!” Easter always follows Good Friday.  We need to realise the reality of the resurrection of Jesus; we need to realise that we take part in it as much as we do his death; and we need to realise—maybe most importantly—that his resurrection has practical implications for us—that it means a changed life on our part. So Paul tells us: You’ve been raised with Christ!  Stop living with your focus on the things of the earth, stop living as if this is all there is, stop living as if all that matters is what’s happening today; and instead, focus your attention on the things of heaven!  As my professor said, “Look up!”  Now we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, but Paul reminds us that at the Ascension, forty days later, the resurrected Jesus returned to heaven to take his place as ruler of his kingdom.  And friends, it’s the heavenly throne of Jesus where we should have our attention focused.  That’s our real home, that’s where our true citizenship lies, that’s where we’ll spend eternity after our short time here—forever in the presence of God.  Paul says in verse 2: Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Have an Easter mind.  Think like Easter people.  Jesus has given you new life through his resurrection.  Start living that life.  Don’t wait.  Live it now. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  (Colossians 3:3-4) Paul points us to the future.  Think about the Gospel we read this morning.  John and Peter and the women stood outside the empty tomb wondering what had happened.  It didn’t occur to them that Jesus had actually risen from the dead.  They thought his body had been stolen.  As John said, they didn’t yet understand.  Understanding came gradually, first as Jesus appeared to them later that day, then as they stared up into heaven as he ascended, and finally as the Spirit was poured out on them on Pentecost—finally, then all the pieces of the Gospel story fell into place for them. Brothers and sisters, you I have all those pieces.  You and I have the Spirit, poured into our lives and connecting us in a living relationship with the resurrected Jesus.  We have no reason not to understand.  St. Paul tells us that Jesus is going to appear again—that he’s going to come back and that when he does we’ll be with him in glory.  And yet even with all this knowledge we still too often stand outside the empty tomb—like I did as I was writing that English paper—and we scratch our heads.  Jesus is gone.  Thanks to the evangelists and the apostles we know the story—we know Jesus wasn’t stolen by the Jews or the Romans.  We know that he was raised and we know that he now sits at the right hand of the Father, ruling over his kingdom.  But we don’t understand—we don’t understand the practical implications that should have on our lives.  We know we’re saved—we’re living in the redeeming love and grace of Good Friday.  And because life in Christ inevitably follows our death with him in baptism, you and I are truly living that new life.  But as long as we don’t understand that, we may be living it, but we’ll never consciously and actively pursue it.  And that’s the difference between Good Friday people who are merely justified—who are still focused on the empty tomb and wondering what the point is—and Easter people who know that a new and grace-fill life is theirs, who set their minds on the things of heaven where our King is, and who actively pursue it.  The disciples had a reason to wonder.  Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, they were truly still only Good Friday people—only justified.  Jesus hadn’t risen yet.  And even after he rose, they were still justified in not fully understanding, because Jesus hadn’t yet sent his Spirit to give them understanding.  But brothers and sisters, you and I have no reason not to understand.  We are Easter people—and for that matter, we’re Ascension people and Pentecost people too!  Between Friday and Sunday the disciples were left wondering.  We’re now living between that first Easter Sunday and that last Great Day when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead and to take us to glory with him.  Let us not wonder what’s happened.  Let us not waste the new life of grace God has given us as we wonder what all this means.  Let us instead pursue resurrection life.  Let us be living and active witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, by letting the grace it brings us shine out for everyone around us to see. Let us pray: Almighty God, you have conquered death through your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant us by your grace to set our mind on things above, so that by your continual help our whole life may be transformed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with your and the Holy Spirit in everlasting glory.  Amen.
Bible Text: Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-10 | Preacher: The Rev'd William Klock | Series: The Church Year Raised with Christ Colossians 3:1-4 & St. John 20:2-10 Alleluia!  Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia! Of all our prayers and acclamation in the liturgy, those words proclaiming the Resurrection of Jesus are the best.  They’re the words we wait for from our celebration of his birth at Christmas, anticipating the redeeming work he came to do at the Cross, and they’re the words we remember from Easter onwards as the rest of the Church Year teaches us what it looks like to live the reality of his Resurrection in our own lives.  And that’s what our lessons are about this morning: the reality of the Resurrection. The Gospel lesson, as told by St. John, is simple.  Surprisingly, for St. John, it’s not doctrinal.  It’s just there.  And yet it doesn’t need to be anything more than just there; it’s the Resurrection.  John tells us that early on that first Easter morning, Mary went to the tomb.  Because of the Passover and the Sabbath, Jesus had been put in the tomb without having been fully or properly embalmed.  Mary went to finish that work.  But when she got there, she found the heavy stone put there to seal the door rolled away.  We don’t know if she looked inside or not.  John says it was still dark and it would have been even darker in that little cave.  She may have just assumed that the body was gone seeing that the tomb had been opened.  Whatever the case, John says, she ran as fast as she could to Peter’s house, waking him up along with John.  Thump, thump, thump! On Peter’s door and those rapid-fire, tear-filled words: “Peter!  They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb!  We don’t know what they’ve done with him!” Peter and John then ran to the tomb.  John tells how he outran Peter to get there.  It was just barely day by then and he stooped to look into that little cave.  It still would have been fairly dark inside, but in the half-light he couldn’t see a body.  That’s when Peter caught up.  Peter got down on hands and knees and crawled into the cave.  Sure enough, no body.  And yet he found the linens in which Jesus had been wrapped lying there and the cloth that had covered his face neatly folded and set aside.  It sounds like John couldn’t believe what Peter called out to him from the tomb, so John got down on hands and knees and squeezed in beside Peter.  And John says, “He saw and believed.” But believed what?  The Gospel?  That Jesus has conquered sin and death?  That Jesus had risen from the grave?  No.  The end of John’s account of that first Easter morning is actually pretty anticlimactic.  What did they believe?  They believed that the tomb was empty as Mary had told them.  That’s all.  John says that they didn’t yet “understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.”  Jesus’ body was gone.  That was that.  Troubling?  Yes.  Distressing?  Yes.  But what could they do about it?  John says they simply went home.  That’s John’s account. And yet in John’s simple telling he gives us proof of what happened.  He gives us three witnesses: Mary, Peter, and himself.  And none of those witnesses expected Jesus’ body to be gone.  Mary was going to embalm his dead body.  She was shocked to find the stone rolled away.  Peter and John were just as shocked to hear her story and had to confirm it for themselves by running to the tomb and climbing down into it.  Even after they confirmed that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb, they didn’t know what it meant. And John gives us three signs, three pieces of evidence that can only be explained by the Resurrection. The heavy stone used to seal the tomb had been rolled away.  Jesus’ friends hadn’t rolled it away, not with soldiers guarding it and Mary, Peter, and John show us their surprise at finding the tomb open and empty.  Many have argued that maybe Jesus, when they put him in the tomb, wasn’t really dead.  He’d simply passed out from trauma and loss of blood.  He came to and escaped, they say.  But someone in that state or even in a healthy state, couldn’t have moved the stone and certainly not with the guards outside. The empty grave gives us more proof.  What other explanation could there be?  His friends didn’t take him.  They were as surprised as anyone that his body was gone.  And if it was all a lie on their part, consider that most of them died martyrs’ deaths for their deception.  Liars don’t take their lies that far.  Neither the Jews nor the Romans took the body.  If the Jews had taken him they’d have been the first to produce the body when the disciples began preaching the good news that Jesus has risen from the dead. And John also tells us how he and Peter found the tomb in order.  The linen wrappings were still on the shelf where the body had been laid and the cloth that had covered Jesus’ face was folded and set aside.  Grave robbers, whether Roman, or Jewish, or Jesus’ friends wouldn’t have bothered to unwrap the body.  In fact, they would have had every reason to keep him wrapped up.  And that kind of deliberate neatness isn’t consistent with the idea of Jesus reviving from sleep and stumbling out of the tomb, barely alive. No, everything points to the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection.  No other explanation fits the evidence and even the evidence we’ve been provided in the Gospels gives us every reason to believe that it’s reliable.  And it’s on this evidence that our faith rests, with the Resurrection of Jesus at its centre.  The Church puts the evidence before us every Easter—to confirm that the saints who awaited his Advent did not hope in vain, to confirm that he did not come himself at Christmas in vain, to confirm that he did not fulfil the righteous obligations of the Law in vain, and—most important—to confirm in us the forgiveness and new life that his death and resurrection accomplish in all those who believe; to confirm that we do not believe in vain! But what does Jesus’ resurrection mean for us?  Why is it so important?  That’s where our Epistle picks up.  Look at Colossians 3:1.  St. Paul says there: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. St. Paul applies Jesus’ resurrection to us.  And if Jesus resurrection is somehow applied to us, that means that it transforms us as it transformed Jesus.  At this point it helps to back up a little bit.  Our Epistle from the Easter Vigil last night explains what’s going on here.  In Romans 6:3-4 St. Paul asks: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. You see, St. Paul understood that our Baptism unites us to Jesus.  It’s what puts us inside the Covenant that he established.  It’s the certificate of new birth that denotes us as citizens of the kingdom of heaven.  In the Gospel message, Jesus offers us forgiveness of sins and new and eternal life.  All we need to do is admit that we are dead in our sins and enemies of God, that we are powerless to deal with or overcome our sins on our own, and then trust that Jesus has dealt with our problem by dying in our place and rising from the dead.  All we need to do is believe…trust.  And we do so by passing through the waters of Baptism.  On Pentecost the men heard Peter preaching this Good News and they asked: “We believe.  What do we do now?”  And Peter told them: “Repent and be Baptised for the forgiveness of your sins.”  Over and over we see this example: the Gospel is preached, men and women believe, and they respond in Baptism.  As God offered Abraham his Old Covenant through the outward rite of Circumcision, which was an act of faith; God now offers us his New Covenant through the outward rite of Baptism.  In it he makes us a promise; we take hold of it—we pass through the waters—in faith, trusting in his promise of forgiveness and life. In those waters the work of Jesus is applied to us.  Our old sinful selves die and new life is poured into us.  In Baptism we are crucified and raised with him.  And so in our Baptism we take part in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Think about what that means.  It means that these waters forever change us.  Paul says later in Romans 6:10-11: For the death [Christ] died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. “You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  Is your life characterised by a death to sin and by being alive to God?  If you’ve taken hold of the promise God offers in Baptism, this should be you.  Maybe someone took that step of faith for you before you were even capable of belief.  That’s fine.  That’s Biblical.  That’s what believing, covenant parents are supposed to do for their children.  That’s what Covenant parents have done since Abraham.  If you haven’t done so already, now is the time for you to believe yourself—to take hold for yourself of the promise that God has already sealed to you in that Baptism.  (Maybe you haven’t believed at all yet.  Maybe you’ve never passed through the waters of Baptism.  If that’s you, the Gospel promise of forgiveness and new life is offered to everyone through these Baptismal waters.  Simply believe and take hold of them for yourself through Baptism.)  Brothers and sisters, whatever the specifics of your situation, what Paul’s saying is that in our Baptism we are united with Jesus in his death and resurrection; we are dead to sin and alive to God.  We who were once dead in sin and rebellious enemies of God are now dead to sin and reconciled to him. But, again, is your life truly characterised by a turning away from sin and a turning towards God?  This side of eternity none of us will ever be perfectly holy.  We still sometimes stumble and fall.  Sanctification, the process of purging sin and being made holy is just that: a process.  The difference for the person united to Jesus is that while we may still sin, we are no longer slaves to sin.  We have a choice.  The very fact that we so often regret our sin after the fact, the very fact that we desire perfection and to please God is the evidence that our bondage to sin has been broken and that we have been made alive to God. But because we aren’t yet perfect, it’s easy to become discouraged.  It’s easy to doubt the reality that we have been raised to new life with Jesus.  In fact, the Enemy will often grab hold of our failures and throw them back at us.  It’s for good reason that he’s known as “Satan”.  His name is Hebrew for “the Accuser”.  He loves nothing better than to hold our sins in front of us and make us doubt our redemption.  This is why God makes our salvation so easy; it’s why he’s given us tangible signs.  I don’t remember my Baptism; I was a baby.  But my Baptismal certificate is framed and hangs on my office wall.  When I doubt—when you doubt—all you need to do is ask: “Do I trust that Jesus died for my sins?  Do I trust that he rose from the grave to make me alive to God?”  If the answer is “Yes” and if you’ve passed through the waters of Baptism, you need no greater assurance.  If you believe and if you’ve been Baptised it is a fact that Jesus has made you dead to sin and alive to God. And so St. Paul says in our Epistle—again, in Colossians 3:1: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. This is what the Resurrection means for us.  This is our calling.  It’s also the solution to the sin that is still so often a reality in our lives.  You have been raised with Christ, so focus your mind on things above—on the things of Christ.  Does a freed slave carry around his manacles hoping for some chance to put them back on?  Does a recovered drug addict carry around a needle or a crack pipe hoping that someone will come along and give him a fix?  Does a blind man who has received his sight still carry his cane or does a deaf man who has received his hearing still wear a hearing aid?  No and no.  The surest way to keep falling back into the sin from which we’ve been freed is to keep carrying it around, to keep focusing on it, to keep playing with it, to keep putting ourselves in situations where it tempts us.  Instead, Paul says in verse 2: Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Elsewhere, Paul puts it in terms of putting off the old and putting on the new.  A lot of Christians look at their old lives and look at sins that have been problems for them and simply try to set them aside…and then they fail.  They keep picking them up again.  The key is to set those sins aside and to replace them with righteousness.  It’s not enough to put off the old self, you’ve got to put on the new.  If you don’t put on the new, putting off the old leaves a void and that void usually ends up being filled with the same “old” thing that used to be there.  Set aside sin and take up righteousness.  Set aside sinful thought and take up memorising Scripture or meditating on the things of God.  Set aside sinful habits and replace them with holy ones.  “Set your minds on things that are above.” And, again, Paul reminds us of the reality of our Baptism: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3) And that means that our struggle against sin is temporary.  Look at verse 4: When Christ who is your life appears [when he returns for his people], then you also will appear with him in glory. Dear friends, we have a future hope.  This the “already, but not yet” aspect of our faith.  It is a fact that we are dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ, but it’s also true that we are still waiting for the completion of that work.  In 1 Corinthians 15, St. Paul tells us that when Jesus rose from the grave, he became the firstfruits of the resurrection of the dead.  The firstfruits represent the beginning of a harvest.  There’s always more to come.  And that’s the case with the resurrection of the dead—there’s still more to come.  Jesus preceded us and ascended back to heaven to rule his kingdom.  He’s given us the Holy Spirit in the meantime to unite us to himself, to sanctify us and make us holy, and so that we can do the work of building his kingdom here on earth.  But his promise is that he will return and when he does, the rest of the resurrection harvest will be brought in and we will be made perfect in our humanity as he has been made perfect in his. And so, brothers and sisters, live out the reality that is yours in Christ Jesus.  Live in the assurance that in your Baptism you were made dead to sin and alive to God.  Put off the old sinful self and put on the new by putting aside sinful actions and attitudes and, instead, seeking the things that are above, replacing the old with the things of Jesus and his kingdom—with love and good works.  And live in hope that the Resurrection begun by Jesus that first Easter morning will be completed when he comes again.  Remember St. Paul’s exhortation: “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Life

April 16, 2017
Life St. John 20:1-20 & Colossians 3:1-4 Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia! That’s the Easter acclamation.  That’s the Easter greeting.  But what does it mean?  Sometimes…