“He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
This is the call and response that we use on Easter Sunday. But this Sunday is not Easter Sunday. That was two months ago. This Sunday we’re revisiting Easter again. Why?
In the book of Acts we learn that the earliest Christians decided to meet on Sundays because Jesus’ resurrection happened on a Sunday. Think about that. Many cultures around the world reserve Sundays as a day off for rest and worship because nearly 2000 years ago a small group of Jesus’ followers wanted to give time every week to commemorate his resurrection.
It didn’t start off that way. In fact those Christians were all Jews. They lived in a culture, in the nation Israel, where Saturday was the day off for worship. Sunday was just another workday, the first day of the work week. So these Christians had to deal with the ramifications of their decision to worship on a day when everyone else would be working.
Did they only meet in the evening after work was done?
Or did they worship in the morning or afternoon, and thus have to say to their employers, “Sorry, but we are no longer working on Sunday mornings or afternoons,” and face the consequences?
It would have been much easier for them to worship on the Sabbath like everyone else did. The Jewish worship day, called Sabbath, was Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. It would have been super easy for the Christians to just worship on the Sabbath, but they chose something else. They chose to worship on Sundays because that was the day of the week Jesus rose from the dead.
That’s why we worship on Sundays too. But that’s not why we’re talking about the resurrection this coming Sunday. So why are we talking about it?
Maybe you’re wondering if it is because this coming Sunday will be one of our two summertime Sundays of worshiping in the park, and we wanted to focus on something special. Nice thought, but nope, that’s not the reason either.
I have a much more mundane reason why we’re talking about Jesus rising from the dead.
You know why? It’s what comes next.
We have been studying the life of Jesus as told to us by a guy named Luke who was one of the first missionaries. Luke tells us right at the beginning that he did the work of a journalist and historian, trying to tell the story of Jesus’ life. So since the last Sunday of November 2014 we have been learning about the words, works and way of Jesus. All he taught and all he did. So that we might learn to know him better and follow him.
Now we have come to the pinnacle moment in his life. On this, the 70th sermon of the series, we travel back to the first Resurrection Day. As much as we can.
But on that day, when the first disciples heard those words “He is risen!” their response was a bit different. They didn’t say “He is risen indeed!” as we do with excitement and hope and thankfulness. Instead, they likely asked it as a question: “He is risen? What are you talking about?”
Good question, disciples. What is this resurrection thing all about? Why does it matter? Even if we believe that it happened 2000 years ago, how does that ancient history affect us now, if at all?
Join us at East Lampeter Community Park on Hobson Road at 10am to learn more!