This coming Sunday people at church will greet one another with the most amazing words ever, saying, “Christ is risen – Christ is risen indeed!” There will be smiles and hugs and wonderful music. There should be. Easter Sunday is a day of celebration that life is different because of Jesus Christ. But may I tell you a secret? If the messages you share on Easter is focused on telling the story of the resurrection you will have missed an opportunity to be an instrument of transformation.
Please don’t get me wrong – there are some wonderful sermons about the stone being rolled away, John and Peter arriving at an empty tomb, Mary encountering a mysterious gardener. The reality is that in today’s world many people will never understand the resurrection through the lens of a story that can only be accepted by faith and cannot be verified by science.
Studies tell us that the people who come to your church for the first time on Easter Sunday are most likely looking for something that will impact their lives. What they look for is not a message about the resurrection, but a message about how new life is possible for them. In other words, it is highly likely that you will have guests attend your worship service who are broken or broken-hearted in some way and need to experience hope and healing. Laity and clergy alike have an opportunity to tell the stories about how the risen Christ restored broken relationships, gave second chances, and offered new life.
Let me give you some examples:
- The resurrection of Jesus means that failure is not fatal. Peter must have felt like a failure the moment that rooster crowed for the third time. His words, and actions certainly indicate that. If you feel like a failure, that you have done things from which there is no recovery, then read John 21 – Peter is not only forgiven but he is lifted up to a new calling in life.
- The resurrection of Jesus offers second chances. Have you ever made a bad decision – thought that the label of failure, misfit, outcast, or (you name the label) belongs to you but Acts 10 reveals to us that not only was Peter given a second chance, but his second chance brought hope, love, and transformation to a community of people the “church” turned its back on.
- The resurrection of Jesus offers new life. How many people do you know have lives that are filled with anger, or struggle with addiction, or have no direction? Acts 9 talks about how the risen savior saw value in someone most people would not want to be around and through grace, led that man (Saul) to a completely new life that continues to impact lives today.
- What has the risen Christ done for you personally? Tell that story.
This Sunday is Easter. It will be a great day in our churches. Fully engage the stories that give witness to how the resurrection demonstrates that: failure is not fatal, offers second chances, and provides a means to have new life.
Let us all tell the stories of transformation made real because of the resurrection. They are why we declare with joy that Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!