Rise with Newness of Life!
The message I will be preaching Easter Sunday is called, “Rise with Newness of life!” The good Lord lived, died and rose again so you and I might not only experience the joy of salvation in the life to come, but fresh and refreshing life right here on earth. Life is too short to be miserable. Life is too short to be depressed. Life is too short to miss one moment of fulfilment and joy. I believe that the essence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is that you and I might learn how to make the most of every day on earth. Yes, salvation from death is the ultimate prize, but long before we die, Jesus offers you and me an outline for how to live and enjoy life.
The Easter story told in the Gospel of Matthew tells us that Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” went to see the tomb. Their intention was to anoint the body of Jesus. The two women were familiar with the rituals of death and desired to give Jesus a proper burial. His death on the cross happened on a Friday before sundown and there had been no time to anoint the body. So, early Sunday morning the two women set out as the day was dawning to prepare the body of Jesus. To their surprise, the grave was open and an angel of the Lord sat on the stone that covered the opening to the tomb. After viewing the empty tomb, Jesus met them, greeted them and directed them to inform the other disciples to meet him in Galilee.
My focus this Easter will be to remind the worshipers that Jesus is about life, not death. He had to die so eternal life would be established, but Jesus is about life, eternal life in the world to come, but also, wonderful, fulfilling, meaningful life in this world. Life is too short to be depressed.
Perhaps you heard about the death of the first Muslim supreme court judge in New York, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, whose body was found in the Hudson River. I met her in 1974, when she and my wife Denise were classmates at Columbia School of Law. Sheila was quiet, but also fun. I only knew her socially and saw her just a few times in the last forty years. Some reports are surfacing that she may have been depressed and might have taken her life. I hope this is not the case, because one of the reasons Jesus came to earth was to ease our burden and to make life not only bearable, but enjoyable and worth the living. I pray for the soul of Sheila and hope to see her in the life to come.
So, my word for you today is this: live life to the fullest, make the most of each death, reflect on the good news of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, then rise with a newness of life!
Matthew 28 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” 
Questions for Reflection:
- Which of the Easter narratives from the Bible are most impactful to you?
- What are some of the major challenges to “Rising with a newness of life?”
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for your resurrection from death. I thank you for your promise of everlasting life, eternal life, despite the mistakes we make over the course of a life time. Grant this day newness of life, full joy in this world and joy in the life to come. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. NicholIas Hood III
Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
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