Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Third Sunday of Easter
"Are you ALIVE in CHRIST?"
36 ¶ As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them.
37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit.
38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts?
39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."
41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?"
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43 and he took it and ate before them.
44 Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled."
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.RSV
A young, ambitious pastor was called to serve in a certain church. He was warned by his predecessor that the congregation was "dead".. But he accepted the call because he believed with God’s guidance he could bring life to that church. He was an optimist and he worked hard, visiting the members, preaching his best sermons enthusiastically, he tried to develop an outreach or lay visiting program so that visits might be done in the homes of the active, the inactive and new people moving into town. The harder he tried, the more he knew that his predecessor was right, this was a dead church.
The spark for ministry, the excitement of preaching and sharing the gospel message was not there.
So one Sunday he made a startling announcement to the few who were gathered for worship. He said, "In as much as you are a dead congregation, unresponsive to resuscitative efforts, unresponsive to any effort of pumping life into the workings of the congregation, in as much as the vital signs of the congregation are dead, I will conduct a funeral for this ’dead ’church next Sunday morning at 10:30."
The members. the few who were there, buzzed with excitement following the service. One said, "What’s ’s he trying to pull anyway?" Another said, "I don’t understand?"
The pastor and his announcement of a funeral for the church was the main talk of the tiny rural town during that week The phone lines were hot with talk, the coffee shop was filled with men talking about what they expected next Sunday.
Sunday arrived, and as the people gathered, there was an open coffin in the front of the church. As the 10:30 hour approached, the pastor looked out and saw that every pew plus some chairs were filled for this funeral service.
He began the funeral service by reading scripture, he shared prayer, he even gave a very sad sermon on the demise of this over 100 year old church and congregation.