Summary: The early church, and the church down through the centuries, has survived and thrived, because its members were convinced of the reality of the resurrection
Born On Easter Morning
TCF Easter Sunday sermon
April 8, 2012
Isn’t the end of Easter season a relief? You know, all the Easter presents you had to buy, and the debt it left on your credit card? The pressure of all the Easter parties – seems like a new one every night, so you’re never home the two months before Easter.
The need to get all your Easter cards out – and then the reality that someone sent you a card and you didn’t send them one, so you’re stuck with either sending an obligatory card in response, or bowing to the embarrassment and shame that you didn’t send one to this person who sent you one?
And the crowds! Everywhere you go, people Easter shopping, traffic jams near malls – it’s enough to drive you crazy and make you say, “bah humbug.” At least we have the Easter carols to hear and sing throughout the season.
Now, of course, we may have thought these kinds of things about the Christmas season, but these trappings really aren’t the same at Easter.
Have you ever thought about Christmas as a church holy day vs. Easter? Because of the world's influence, and because of our human nature, Christmas most often supercedes Resurrection Sunday, more commonly known as Easter, as the most important holiday in the church calendar.
We generally spend more time building up to Christmas than Easter. Many protestant churches will mark Advent, but many do not even mention any kind of Lenten observation.
Personally, I think that it’s a largely secular influence on both holidays that has brought this reality about. We see Christmas decorations up more than two months prior to Dec 25. We focus more of our time and energy on preparation for Christmas, and it’s often really not a spiritual preparation. That’s why these terms are not generally in our vernacular:
- Easter shopping?
- Easter vacation?
- Easter presents?
- Easter music?
- Easter decorations?
- Easter lights?
- Easter trees?
Christmas is more widely recognized by the secular world, as well as the church world. There are only some who would argue the actual birth of Christ. However, when people consider His words, His life, His death by crucifixion, and His resurrection – then the struggle begins. Why is this?
I think for one, Christmas is an easier holiday to believe in. It’s easier to believe in a birth, (though certainly not a virgin birth) because we’ve all been there and done that, and we see it happen all the time. But a resurrection? You’re kidding me, right?
Christmas is a little more easily sanitized. You have a baby at Christmas. You have the quaint story about being born in a manger. On the other hand, when you compare babies, with death and the grave, again - Houston, we have a problem.
The problem is, of course, that it’s impossible to talk about the resurrection of Jesus without talking about death. And, in the case of Jesus, it’s really hard to talk about His death without talking about crucifixion.
Christmas is easier to secularize - Santa is certainly a more enduring and enjoyable addition to Christmas than the Easter bunny is to Easter. Also there's a recognition of birth as a common experience, but death followed by resurrection is impossible to separate from its spiritual implications.
The temptation that comes to all of us, in every era of the church, is to have Jesus, without seeing ourselves in the gore of his bloody cross and the glory of his empty grave. In the way that we speak of Him to our children, or to skeptics, or to seekers, we sometimes believe we’ll gain more of a hearing if we present Him as teacher but not as a former corpse. It is too disturbing, we think to ourselves, too weird. Russell Moore
So, the church has bought into some of the world's priorities, and Christmas seems to be a more important holiday than Easter. Now, I’m not knocking Christmas, the traditions, the fun of the holiday. This morning, I’m simply asking us to consider clearly the understanding from the Word, about the importance of Resurrection Day.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 15, our primary text for this morning. We're going to focus on about a half-dozen key sections from this chapter
verse 1: I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand, (or “in which you stand,” some versions say)
verse 14: If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith
17-19: if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men.