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Thursday, April 27, 2006

New Blog for Questions and Answers

I've begun another blog intending to be a little more interactive than The Country Parson. I'm calling it, "Ask the Country Parson."

My intention is not to be the 'Answer Man,' but to bring about some discussion about things that I am asked all the time as a pastor. I'll share my perspective, and I'd like to encourage you to begin a dialogue through the Comments Section that might generate personal and spiritual growth for everyone.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Living An Easter Life

Icon of St. Thomas the Apostle, Witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Sermon notes from Easter Sunday, April 16, 2006

Epistle: I Corinthians 15:12-28, 50-58
Psalm: 100
Gospel: Luke 24:1-12

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!

You and I are called to live an 'Easter life.'

We live in a world filled with despair, but we are called to an Easter life!

We know there are wars and violence, turmoil and disaster, but we are called to an Easter life!

We are faced with problems in our families, personal anxieties, abuse and addiction, and financial worries, but we are called to an Easter life!

In a world becoming increasingly secular and materialistic, we are called to an Easter life!

St. Paul's great affirmation in Romans 10:9 is the beginning of an Easter life: "If you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." In our Epistle this morning, Paul likewise proclaims, "If Christ is not risen, your faith is in vain . . .for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

An Easter life is a life transformed, lived from the inside out, a life in which even death itself is no longer a threat.

An Easter life means that when we face despair, God gives us hope.
When we face war, God gives us peace.
When we face violence, God gives us comfort.
When we face turmoil, God gives us answers.
When we face disaster, God brings renewal.

In our homes, an Easter life means that no family problem is greater than the love of God to solve it.
No personal anxiety is as great as the care God has for you.
No amount of abuse can shake how much you are worth to God.
No addiction's chains are stronger than God's power to break them.
No financial worry is unnoticed by God, Who clothes the grasses and flowers of the field.

An Easter life sees what is Holy in a secular world: the holiness of every soul; the sacredness of God's world; the wisdom of our Heavenly Father. An Easter life holds on to what is Holy because it is True and Right and Beautiful and Good.

Living the Easter Life may lead to being misunderstood.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ? To some, a myth.
New life in Christ? To many, a fantasy.
Hope for living? To others, 'rose colored glasses.'
Faith? To many, it's naive.
A changed life? Merely behavior modification.
Belief in God? A coping mechanism.
Confession of Faith? Mind control.

In spite of being misunderstood and scorned, rejected and made fun of, we know that we are living an Easter life, and that Christ is indeed, risen from the dead.

This morning, we are surrounded by symbols of this glorious Resurrection: the lilies trumpet the news; the candles in front of the Resurrection icon represent that the Light still shines in the world and that it cannot be overcome; the white cloth and paraments represent the New Life and a clean slate; and we received new members reminding us again that the Church continues from one age to the next.

In closing we will sing of yet another symbol of the Easter Life, The Lord of the Dance. Notice these words in the final verse:
They cut me down and I leapt up high,
I am the Life that will never, never die;
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He;
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!