Monday, April 6, 2015

Entering into Easter JOY

April 5, 2015
Fr. Philip Eberhart





It has felt like a long dry spell without our Alleluia's hasn't it?

Just to explain if your visiting and not Anglican or Catholic in background, part of the discipline of Lent, the weeks before Holy Week and Easter, is to "Put away" our "Alleluia's".  We refrain from saying them, especially in our liturgies, to reflect the nature of repentance and the solemnity that are proper to the season of Lent.

But this morning ends the season, and the Alleluia's are back!


The origin of the word, Alleluia, is back in the Hebrew word for Praise to God.  In fact our Psalm this morning is the final chapter of the 6 chapters of the "Great Hallel" in the Hebrew liturgical calendar.  Psalms 113 to 118 are read at nearly all the major feast days in the Hebrew calendar!

Why talk about this word on Easter morning!
Who cares about the etymology of Alleluia!

Alleluia -  It's a joyful sound, isn't it?

Over and over again, in our readings and prayers this past week and beyond we've heard that Jesus could see this day before He went through these past 3 days.  In fact, He could see this day from the very beginning.  The writer of the Hebrew letter tells us that "for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross."  One of our prayer on Friday used the phrase, "He entered not into joy, but first He suffered pain."

For just a moment this morning I want you to transport yourself to Jerusalem on early Sunday morning.  Our Gospel reading helps us with that:

Imagine for a moment, the last two days in the upper room.
It's the pit of despair, hopelessness, fear, shame and doom.
What now?  Jesus died!!

Was there anyone in the room that remembered the times that Jesus talked about this.  That He must suffer and be handed over to suffering and death. That he would rise after three days!

Sometimes life obscures our vision of the reality of God's Words.  We are taken up with the realities of our life;  we are run over by our circumstances;  we are treated unfairly at our job, or by our family.

Imagine the air in the upper room:  dank, tense,  no sense of time, no sense of purpose or direction - all alone and without God - the Messiah is dead!  I don't think it was just Thomas who doubted or even forgot outright all that Jesus had said.

Now transition with me to this morning:  fitful sleep; someone blared up the stairway, "The Stone has been rolled away!"


The race to the side of Joseph of Arimathea's tomb - the stone rolled back- the empty room - the burial clothes laying there - his head cloth rolled up no less.

James believed it, but...!

I still have questions.  Thomas isn't the only one.

How can these things be true?

Then Mary comes to the door and reports that she has actually seen the Lord - alive and well.

WHAT?   He's really alive?   Come on!
If this is some kind of joke or rumor - or someone moved the body, or the authorities are messing with us?

What's going on?

And Peter had the added feature of his own guilt and disbelief.
The shadow of his denial and abandonment of Jesus;  His shame; His self-removal from the band of the disciples... to the point that Peter is singled out in Mark's account of the angel's appearance:  "Go and tell the disciples, and Peter that He is risen and is going before you to Galilee.  There you will see Him, just as He told you."  AND PETER!

Now imagine with me, the moment of reunion.  

Jesus appears that evening to all the disciples.  Peter turns around and sees Jesus there - falls to his knees, his eyes sad with guilt, his fisherman's frame shaking with tears - 

And Jesus - comes over and puts his hand down on Peter's head - and then lifts him up by the shoulders, from kneeling to standing face to face.
Peter's eyes are still downcast.  And Jesus says it - "Peter."
He lifts his face and their eyes meet, just like three nights ago in the courtyard, right after his denial; but this time, Peter recognizes that familiar lilt in Jesus' voice, and realizes that He - Peter himself, the denier, the coward before the accusation of a teenage girl slave - Peter has been forgiven, and this is all really happening!

Pinch yourself - go ahead, do it!

It's all real.

Jesus wants that reality to sink in here this morning!  Because what happened to Peter and to James and John and all the others will happen to you and to me and to all the whole church.

Almost 60 times in the New Testament alone the word JOY is used.  Just when I look up at you,  insert it in some of the more familiar examples:

[Luk 1:44 NASB] 44 "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.

[Luk 2:10 NASB] 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

[Luk 10:17 NASB] 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

[Luk 15:10 NASB] 10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

[Luk 24:41, 52 NASB] 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" ... 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

[Jhn 15:11 NASB] 11 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

[Jhn 16:20 NASB] 20 "Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.

[Act 13:52 NASB] 52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

[Rom 14:17 NASB] 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

[Gal 5:22 NASB] 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

[1Th 1:6 NASB] 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

[Heb 12:2 NASB] 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And from Peter's own pen:

[1Pe 1:8 NASB] 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

And from John, the beloved disciple:

[1Jo 1:4 NASB] 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

[2Jo 1:12 NASB] 12 Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.

And finally in the JUDE DOXOLOGY:  (GET YOUR BELLS 
AND KEYS READY AGAIN)  [we're going to do something here that is unusual in church...  did anyone see the Wisconsin vs. Kentucky game yesterday?  What was Wisconsin's response to the win?  Imagine your little league team just won the World Series!  That is the scale we're talking about here!  Get ready -
I want the Great Hallel in your outside voice!]

[Jde 1:24 NASB] 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.


AMEN. Alleluia!

Amen.  Alleluia!



Some here are still feeling like Peter was.
Uncertain.  Lost.  Separated.
Hesitant with the expression of praise to Jesus Christ?
He wants to meet you... Face to face.  Heart to heart.
And you can do that right now.
If I just described you, I want us all to bow our heads.
You can pray a prayer like this:

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for loving me enough to die for me.  

I'm s
orry for the things I've done wrong and all that spoils
my life.

Please come in to my heart and life.  
I receive You and 
your finished work on the cross. 

Take my life, Lord - 
I call you Lord - I give you my life.
Lead me in all that I say and do from
this day forward.

In Jesus' Name.

Amen.  Alleluia!

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