Acts 10: 34-43
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it. God looked at us, his children with compassion and with pain. How lavish he had been in his love. Creation sings of the mighty power and eternal nature of God. We hardly notice. Isaac Newton, the great English physicist and mathematician said one time, “If you will just take the time to stop and consider it, the thumb alone will convince you that there must be a God.” Ah, that’s the rub. Take time and consider. You have. You are hear. You have heard the voice, sensed the presence, chosen to respond to that love. Rejoice, God has made this day for you.
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it. Knowing our weakness, God searched for generations for people who had a clue, people whom he could love and they would love him back. In our Father Abraham God found such a person. Abraham trusted God and he returned his trust with a promise. Some 1700 years later Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. On the third day he rose from the dead and changed everything. We became his body on the earth, the body of the very living God. Peter put it this way in the second chapter, the ninth verse of his first letter,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Rejoice, God has made this day for you.
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it. It began like any other day would in that part of the world. The winter rains were over. It was good spring. The sun would rise and flood the earth with the soft, slightly pink light of morning. In a garden in Jerusalem it would be cool first thing in the morning. Heavy dew shown everywhere making and grass wet and the spider webs visible in all their glory. Mary Magdeline when to the tomb with several other women in order to honor their rabbi by anointing the body and applying the customary herbs and spices and ointments. It was not a very good plan as the Sanhedron has sealed up the tomb and place a 2,000 lb. stone in front and posted a guard to keep anyone from entering, but I am not sure that under the circumstances we would have done any better. We all know that terrible sense of urgency that we just have to do something for people we love when things have gone wrong. We don’t always think it through so well.
As they walked quietly through the garden to the tomb, think of the contrast between the beauty, the quiet, the fresh life all around them and the violence, hatred and cruelty of the crucifixion. Imagine for a moment that you were one of the people headed for the tomb. Would the garden quiet your soul? Would its quite and beauty make you sad? Would you be just numb or preoccupied practicing your speech to get the guards to let you and the others into the tomb?
This is the day the Lord spent 1700 years making and it began early in the morning in a garden on the way to a tomb. Mary noticed first, the stone was rolled away and the guards were gone. It could only mean one thing. The officials had removed the body. What additional horror would they use it for, what additional abuse could they inflict? Could they just want to burn it and scatter the ashes, a shameful thing to do according to Jewish custom? She ran to fetch Peter and the beloved disciple, probably John himself. They found exactly what she said, and empty tomb. You know the story. So they went back to the rest. Peter had no clue as to what was happening, the beloved disciple knew that Jesus was alive. Easter had happened for him even though he had not seen the risen Lord.
This is the day that the Lord has made. To rejoice and be glad we need to know that Jesus lives.
Mary stayed behind. She was like a mother lingering at the bedside of a sick child or like a devoted husband spending time in the hospital waiting room knowing there is nothing he could do but he just wants to be near. We know why she hung around. She still did not understand but she wanted to be close to the last place she knew Jesus had been.
With tears in her eyes she looked in and saw two angles, but thought they were ordinary people. How odd! But tears and grief can do that.
She turned around. Looking through her tears she saw what she thought was a gardener. Tears and grief can do that.
Then Jesus called her by name and she realized that he was alive and standing there. She saw the Lord and Easter happened for her.
This is the day that the Lord has made. He spent 1700 year preparing for it. Even his closest associates had trouble grasping it. Standing in front of the risen Lord in the flesh they could not see who it was. Then they did. Knowing that changed everything.
When did Easter happen for you? Martin Luther was studying the book of Romans one morning and realized, for the first time, that his salvation depended on trusting the Character of God and not on ritual or opinion or our own flawed character. Calvin was studying the gospels, a requirement of his university education, and came to understand that Jesus Christ paid the price, Jesus Christ was the judge and Jesus Christ gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we might life through him and with him. Suddenly, he just knew it was true.
When did Easter happen for you? On September 10, 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as "the call within the call" while traveling to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling for her annual retreat. Teresa was raised in the church and always, as far as she can remember, believed. She had received a vision in her late teens and became a nun and was posted to India. Pondering the year past and wondering about the future God had in store for her, she fell asleep and had a vision, a particularly vivid dream. God spoke to her and commissioned her to work in the world rather than live in the convent. She said of the experience, "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith." She began her missionary work with the poor in 1948, adopted Indian citizenship, and ventured out into the slums." She had no more visions, but she experience several turning until she became the international Christian figure she was.
George was a businessman and a once or twice a month Christian. His twelve-year-old son was involved in an auto accident. As the boy was laying in the intensive care unit, George prayed for a miracle. Well, his son made a good but less than full recovery. George was thrilled none the less. But he was even more deeply moved by the fact that he sensed that God knew him personally, by name. In the midst of his personal struggle, Easter Sunday arrived “just like nothing had happened,” George would say. Sitting in church in order to pray for his son on Easter in a sacred place, he realized that God was personally with him. He was known like Mary was known by Jesus. He was aware that he had no claim on God. Not a particularly good Christian, God received him anyhow. Easter happened for George. He is still a husband, father and businessman, but he also knows that he is the beloved brother with Jesus Christ. It has made a huge difference in his life.
Today is 3700 years in the making. It is the day the Lord has made in your life through all of your experiences, hopes, dreams, accomplishments, needs, successes and dreads. Do you have room in your heart today for the Holy Spirit? God has room in His heart for you.