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Apr 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 17, 2022



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Welcome to Easter Sunday!  May the Lord be with you!

What a beautiful Cross.  It was beautiful before we adorned it, when it was empty, because an empty Cross and an empty tomb means:
 He is Risen!              He is Risen Indeed!            Hallelujah!

Beautiful and made even more beautiful by our humble offerings of flowers.  I’ve been thinking about the Way of the Cross and what it means to me.

That there’s beauty in the Cross is amazing in itself—a way of death becomes a way of Life, a tool of torture is used as an instrument of Love.  And made beautiful because Jesus made His Way there.  We’re invited to Come, to Follow, this Way.

When we come to the cross, we stand in Solidarity, in Agreement with God’s Way of doing things.  At the foot of the cross, we are in Oneness with God and with all humanity.  It’s a level place; everyone belongs, and everyone is welcome. 

As we travel the Way of the Cross, we are moving in Intimacy, the nearness of the Holy.  We say to the Beloved, “know me, love me.”  He says, “know me, love me.”  And we say that to each other.  We can bring both suffering and joy, because the integration of suffering AND joy is the Way of Jesus, the wholeness of the human experience. 

Walking the Way of the Cross moves me in Transformation.  Jesus proved that the way of the cross is the way of transforming love. It is the power of the resurrected life. And not only at the end, but all the way through, the redeemed, resurrected, restored life.  On the Way, every offering, no matter how small or humble—a decision, a forgiveness, a surrender, a flower– is a Way toward Oneness, Intimacy, and the Power of Resurrection. The main thing is to be on the Way.  Bring what you have.  It will be welcomed here.  Let’s pray:

Lord, you made a Way for us.  Let us Come into Your Presence today, knowing more and more this Way of Love.  Let us Follow.  Let us walk together on the Beautiful Way.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen

Morning talk: Chuck Smith, jr.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 1:3

Intro: Peter is celebrating Jesus’ resurrection

His first line is praise to God (the English Standard Version adds an exclamation mark)
– his specific point is what Jesus’ resurrection means for us
• I’ve been reading in Acts this week and this is the same message Peter and the apostles preached there
• Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead
◦ and doing so, he opened a new way to know God and be right him
◦ Peter preached this in his first sermon, and every speech afterward
“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing . . . Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they . . . said to Peter . . . , “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself (Acts 2:32-39)
– years later, writing this letter, Peter’s central theme is still Jesus’ resurrection
• Peter indicates that it is written in the biography of every Christian — past, present, and future
◦ we had a past, before we knew Jesus, risen and living
◦ he doesn’t go into it here, but says this about it later
For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry (1 Pe. 4:3)
• here in chapter 1 he celebrates our future
. . . to an inheritance that is imperishable, undeviled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed (verses 4-5)
◦ and then describes our present lives
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (verses 6-9)

Jesus’ resurrection seems like is a lovely theme for spring time

The earth, that goes barren in winter, comes back to life in spring
– so also, Jesus who suffered a gory death, descended into earth,
• and rose from the grave in a glorious new life
◦ but the analogy ends there
• in fact, the differences are greater than the similarities
– spring is a natural, recurring season
• it belongs to a cycle that repeats every year
• Jesus’ resurrection is an anomaly, a singularity
◦ it happened only once in the history of humankind
◦ and it will happen only once for each of us
Karl Barth, “Resurrection, not progress, not evolution, not enlightenment, but what the word means, namely, a call from heaven to us: ‘Rise up! You are dead, but I will give you life.’”

Peter uses the metaphor of new birth

And he says that we’ve been born again into a living hope
– everything about our Christian experience is alive
• but this is not the same as our biological experience
◦ breathing, consuming, moving, reproducing, and so on
• it is the infusion of God’s life – mouth-to-mouth, as it were
– if all we know in this world is our animal existence,
• then we haven’t experienced what Peter is talking about
◦ there is another heartbeat in the universe,
◦ another breath, another sound, another touch
• if we never feel it, sense it, catch a glimpse of it,
◦ then we are homo sapiens and nothing more
◦ there’s a dynamic energy to resurrection life that few people know

When I stepped into ministry, I had not considered what it meant

It didn’t occur to me that I would be considered a pastor
– I only knew that the Bible was exciting for me,
• and I could teach it to people who knew less than I
• I didn’t give any thought to being ordained,
◦ until a couple about my age asked me to officiate their wedding
– Glen and Ann are as lovely as any Christians you’ll ever meet
• their lives are so exuberant and joyful,
◦ you would never know both of them are deaf
• I met them when teaching a Bible study in Riverside
◦ this was in an Episcopal church that had asked Lonnie Frisbee to begin youth group
◦ Lonnie left and it was passed on to Ken Gulliksen, and then me, and I was followed by Greg Laurie

Spending time with Glen and Ann, I learned his story
He was cruising Riverside with friends, when they saw cars crowded with teenagers pulling into a parking lot. They decided to check out what was going on, but when they noticed they were carrying Bibles, they began making fun of them, flicking cigarette butts at them, Glen said. His friends left to find something more entertaining, but out of curiosity Glen entered the church and stood in the foyer that was separated from the main sanctuary by a windowed wall. He was watching Lonnie speak, but had no idea what he was saying. Glen was suddenly gripped with a terrifying panic. He burst through the doors of the sanctuary and ran down the center aisle toward Lonnie, screaming the whole way. The crowd of about 300 teenagers immediately reacted to this and began murmuring. With Glen weeping on the floor at his feet, Lonnie held up his hands and told everyone to calm down. Then lifting Glen up by his shoulders, he explained, “This man is under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.” And then, in front of everyone, Lonnie led Glen to faith in Jesus.

People have asked whether there can be another revival like the Jesus Movement
– even now, seminaries are sponsoring research to investigate and explain it
• there are all sorts of factors – sociological, timing, “spiritual” experimentation with hallucinogens
◦ but what stands out in my memory is this,
◦ hippies were reading the Book of Acts as if it were written for today
– they believed the same Holy Spirit lived in them and was guiding them
• they believed the Spirit would speak through them
◦ it was definitely an apocalyptic time
◦ it made sense to leave world behind, to live in communes, sharing all things in common
• they were ready to go wherever the Spirit carried them
◦ and many were carried all over the world
◦ for them, born again was the dynamic energy of resurrection life

But now we have become educated, sophisticated, rational
– our tools are technological and systematic, marketing and management
– we have been domesticated, house-broken and neutered
• and the radical movement got buried under the institutions we built

What does it mean to live in the resurrection?

It is an empowered life
– but we must not romanticize this
• it is not an endless stream of happy thoughts, platitudes, positive thinking, or chicken soup for the soul
• after his resurrection, Jesus had a private conversation with Peter
◦ the Lord told him,
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go (Jn. 21:18)
◦ this is resurrection life – we are taken into encounters we did not choose
◦ into the hardships of the lives of other people,
experiencing the desperation of their need,
and the darkness of their spiritual oppression
– this is not always fun, but it is right

Conclusion: Let’s check for signs of resurrection life

Let’s take our temperature, check our pulse and blood-pressure
– are we living the resurrection life?

Well, you are here this morning
– you could have chosen to be somewhere else
• a family gathering – a neighborhood Easter egg hunt
• you could have attended a place where Easter is a big production
◦ and the resurrection certainly deserves a big production
◦ the biggest
– but you chose to come here,
• and that in itself is a statement

When Paul wrote to Christians in Rome, he told them,
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers [and sisters], that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another (Ro. 15:14)
– I know that this is also true of you
• I have learned from you, received counsel from you
◦ my experience of Jesus has been enriched by your insights
◦ even your questions have stretched and challenged me
• my spiritual growth would be incomplete if not for our Lexio Divina meetings

Here is the prayer I hear coming from our hearts this Easter morning:

“Father, we are continuing our journey with Jesus, together
The way has been hard
and we have been unsure, hesitant, and weak at times
But we keep getting up and going
We stand and walk, not by our own power
We move on, we pray, we hope, we rejoice,
because You, O Lord,
are faithful to keep us faithful

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