Easter is worth the celebration, but do we really know why we’re celebrating? Do we fully understand the invitational power of God in the resurrection? Not only do we remember the Easter story, but we also consider how the story invites us to be Easter people: an expansive, forgiving, community of power that proclaims God’s love to everyone.
Police cars and chariots have a lot in common. Their mere presence is a statement of power. Jesus was riding in to town using a borrowed bicycle. Across town, Pilate entered the city with sirens blazing. One coming in humility, the other in a prideful show of force. Are we really surprised that those who shouted “Hosanna!” (“Save us!”) quieted so quickly?
The movement Dr. King teaches is one of non-violence. Like Jesus’ invitation to be a grain of wheat, it’s a call to understand that our death does not lead to an absence of change, but that our willingness to die leads to a multiplying of God’s love on earth. We are called to forsake our live for the love of God in the world, for when we die, we multiply.
John 3:16 is one of the most well-known, often quoted scriptures in the whole of the Christian Bible. Yet, it is often used to chastise those of no faith for lacking faith. In its context, spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus, it seems to have a different intent.
Jesus’ rage in the temple isn’t just a statement against the corrupt economic practices that preyed on traveling pilgrims, it’s also a statement about the witness of the presence of God. Jesus defines his body as the dwelling place of God, and in the physical absence of Jesus, the church becomes the Body of Christ. How well do we portray the presence of God in the world?
Mark 8:31 includes Jesus saying that he “must undergo” great suffering, and would die at the hands of the temple leaders. Still today, it is regularly debated in the church whether or not Jesus “had” to die. Perhaps this question is best answered in by asking the question in reverse: “Was it possible for Jesus to be 100% committed to God’s will for humanity without facing the burden of the Roman cross?”
Our guest preacher, Bishop Sharma Lewis, is the resident bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. There is no text available for this sermon at this time.