Sermon trailer . . . from my upcoming Easter Morning (4/4/21) Sermon this coming Sunday . . .
It is Easter morning. It is a day of hope. It is also a good day for Christians, for churches, to remember the seriousness of the resurrection and, as church, their place in this world, their place in their community. Our place in this community. So, while we can and should receive this beautiful hope that Easter brings to our minds—resurrection, life after death, a hope for eternal life—I also want to provoke some seriousness into our imagination, an Easter imagination. My big question this morning will be, “How do others know it’s true, that Jesus is resurrection from the dead?”
Gordon Fee, a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where I did graduate school, once said: “When will we get Easter messages that proclaim the meaning and reality of the resurrection for the church and not repeated sermons on ‘proving the resurrection’ to Christians over and over again?” This is the view I will be taking this morning on the resurrection as we remember that first Easter. What does it mean—what is the reality of the resurrection for us, for CPC in The Hill, today . . . I plan here to give at least one meanings . . . a whole series could be done on the various implications of the resurrection . . . I will only focus on one . . . a rather significant one at that.
Imagine the early church—they would never be meeting around supper tables with strangers and unequals, committing treason and promoting social and cultural disorder, erasing boundaries and redefining—restoring, actually—the concept of humanity unless it--unless the resurrection was true. Meeting together was crazy. Social and cultural suicide. Life threatening as a penalty of law--both Jewish and Roman. Treasonous. Potentially an offense that could wind them up shunned at the least from the community, by their families, and worse, as entertainment in the gladiatorial arena or on crosses to be set ablaze as night-lights for the streets of Rome. The resurrection was so very real to these early house churches. Simply had to be. These house churches were the proof of the Resurrection.
How did Jews and Gentiles, elite-Greeks and barbarians, the educated and the uneducated know it’s all true—that Jesus rose from the dead, that all the rumors and excuses for an empty tomb were, indeed, fake news; that Jesus, truly, was risen from the dead? And not just those first few thousand that came to believe, but how did those out-there, in the wider empire, 10, 20, 50, 100, 300 years later know that Jesus was raised from the dead the 3rd Day?
It was those gatherings of strangers and unequals around a supper table in homes and workshops and back rooms and catacombs that were the proof. It is with all my heart and mind, that I find in the pages of the New Testament, that the proof of the resurrection of Jesus is the local, gathered church.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.