Easter – What If?

Audio of sermon w/ choir here

To the church of God that is in Arlington, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

What if it didn’t happen?  What if there were no resurrection?  What if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead on the first Easter?  What would that be like?  What would life look like?  In 1 Corinthians 15, St. Paul wrote that, ‘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.’  According to Paul, our faith would be futile and we would remain in our sins.  He went on: ‘If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.’  We would be pitiable.  Apart from the resurrection of Jesus – body and all – that first Easter Sunday, would there be any Christians?  What would we be?

It’s hard to imagine a world not centered on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  How would the years be numbered?  Would Rome have fallen when it did?  How long would it have taken for the new world, the Americas, to be settled? 

Or, to think about it on a more personal level, what would we believe and how would we live according to that faith, or lack of faith?  I imagine we would probably begin by not going to church, and then…

If Christ had not been raised, parents wouldn’t bring children for baptism, nor would they bring their children to Sunday School or to Confirmation instruction. Most would spend the time instead focusing on sports, school events, and other activities every day and every night of the week.

If Christ had not been raised, Sunday is just another day, the weekend looks different because it is not structured around a time for worship.If Christ had not been raised, men and women would live together without the Lord’s blessing of holy marriage.  Indeed, every aspect of the human life and body would fall under the authority of the individual. We’d have no grounding, nothing to fall back on to determine right and wrong, good and evil. 

If Christ had not been raised, there would not only not be any baptisms, confirmations, or weddings; there would be no funerals, either.  Instead we’d find other means of marking the deaths of those in our lives, but with no hope to our own resurrection.

You see, the most pivital event in history is the structure of our society and life. Yet, all too often we take it for granted and live our life during the week without Christ, we go about the seasons neglecting to be strengthened and kept in His grace. 

We could certainly go on, but that would be a truly pitiable existence. If you don’t have the actual resurrection of the body, Paul says, then you don’t have Jesus. Thanks be to God, however, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and lives and reigns eternally.  

Because he is alive, our whole life has meaning.  Baptized into his name, we are a new people.  He rescues us from every sin, washes us in His righteousness, and feeds us and our faith with His life-giving gifts.

In this life and world, we are tempted in every way and at all times to believe it isn’t true that Christ has been raised and lives.  We are tempted in every way and at all times to live as if Christ had not been raised.  Lord, have mercy on all of us!  How many of us find ourselves fighting against these temptations?  Where can we turn?  Where can we go?

To Christ!  Go to Christ – turn to him!  He is your Savior who forgives you when you are tempted and forgives you when you have given into temptation.  His blood is the price that was paid for you, and do not take it lightly that he deemed you worthy of his death.  Even though it is freely given, it is the most precious thing.  Repent of sin and believe that Christ is risen from the dead for you!

There is no time like the present to refocus and refresh your faith and life in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is as Paul said so stridently and joyfully to his beloved Corinthians: ‘But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.’  

He is risen from the dead and as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep, his resurrection is simply the first of the rest to follow, including yours.  You, yes YOU, are his chosen, his beloved.  He will raise you, too, unto life everlasting!

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

And so, our chorus, our alleluias, praise the Lord, continues:

(choir sings rendition of Hallelujah Chorus from cantata “How Great Thou Art”)

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