EASTER DAY/SUNRISE SERVICE
Easter celebrations around the world have already begun. Believers in Jesus Christ as our crucified and risen Lord are gathering in places both humble and grand, outdoors and indoors, with pageantry and quite simply, to sing heartfelt praises to our Lord and Savior. If ever there were a time to rejoice greatly, this is it! God has done a marvelous and unexpected thing – and it’s not the first time! The one who raised Jesus from the dead had led (and fed!) Hebrew slaves out of Egypt and formed them into a mighty nation. He had raised up and restored peoples before, through prophets and through Jesus of Nazareth. Now we rejoice that there is an empty tomb where the crucified Jesus had been put – God has acted once again to grant new life to his people.
I’m glad you have joined us this morning, so that your ears can hear the triumphant Easter proclaim-ations and your voices can proclaim praises to God, alongside the beautiful flowers, music, and drama of our Lord’s resurrection. He is risen, and so we dare to declare that Jesus Christ is Lord over all things, including and especially sin and death. Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
Like many pastors today, I want my words to do justice to this awesome event, which is central to the whole Christian faith. As astounding as this message is, we know that many who listen to us have heard it before – in some cases many times! How to help those who hear make new connections be-tween our Lord’s risen life and our own lives? That’s a burden I rejoice to embrace today. I went back in my memory bank to find something that provided me a handle. I remember well a traditional cheer used at football and basketball games: “Victory, victory is our cry, v-i-c-t-o-r-y; are we in it? Well I guess! (name of school); Yes, yes, yes!” This cheer offers a great way to proclaim the Easter message!
So, let me shout “Victory, victory is our cry” – and then go on to spell it out against all the enemies of God, in so doing to tell the world a most important fact of faith. We ask, “Are we in it?” – i.e., are we able and willing to live by faith in the face of the whole gamut of life’s challenges? Then answer “Yes,
yes, yes! (by the power of God) is to declare that we are on the side of the truest and best power in the world – the power of God!
Going back to the sports setting – I think there is more we can say. As led by cheerleaders, this pro-clamation of victory is usually made before the game is over – in other words, before the victory has been won, in anticipation of the final victory. So it is with us at Easter; we shout victory before the final score is in. There is still some play action before the game is over and the victory won. Indeed, the victory cheer is often made at points when the team is actually behind in the score! I cherish deeply
the insights about Easter this raises. In life as we know it, we do not always ride the crest of victory in life; evil does win some battles in our lives and in the world. But we can and should be cheering/liv-ing by faith!!! I can even remember games when, as their team faltered, the cheerleaders cheered the victory cheer with renewed vigor – with tears streaming down their faces. As persons who have been given a share in Christ’s victory over sin and death, we too can and should shout victory when we are face-to-face with our own failures, weaknesses, alienation from others, and mortality because we can and should turn to Christ the Victor to receive and employ a faith that can make us triumphant in all things. We cherish the assurance of things hoped for that makes the victory cheer always timely for those who live in Christ.
May this victory cheer play a pivotal role in your life; after all, Christ’s resurrection is a victory for us! As St. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “You have been raised to life with Christ.” Jesus endured his Passion and Death; he encountered the forces of evil; he confronted the forces of perverse powers. He knew life at its hardest and worst. But even so, by God’s power, Christ lived with the assurance that his life would not be cancelled out. He not only endured; he prevailed!
So today, because of Christ we CHEER! We live by faith. At numerous points along the way of his life and ministry, he seemed to be outnumbered; he seemed to be losing. And yet, he became the victor. Today, we boast as we hope that our lives will have an abundance of strength with which we will prevail. Faith that is grounded in the Risen Christ helps us live with an uncanny confidence – this becomes a daily gift which will support, surround, and transform our lives and our times, making us “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
So, I invite and urge you to take up this victory cry. Be a cheerleader for that which Jesus Christ has done and can do for you and others. Take to the field to give your hearts, your minds, and your all to the challenges of living into this victory against anything that would try to prevail against you.
Victory, victory is our cry!
Are we in it? Let’s “be there” and “to that”!
Yes, God; Yes, God; Let your own voices say “Yes!”
ACTS 10:34-43 I CORINTHIANS 15:19-26 JOHN 20:1-18
RICHARD A. SEAKS, INTERIM PASTOR AT ST. LUKE