Summary: Christ is risen. As Eugene Peterson says, now is the time to "Let the Word of Christ...have run of the house...And sing...your hearts out to God.
Sing Your Hearts Out
April 16, 2006
This morning, for the fifty-second time in my life, I woke up on Easter morning. For the fifty-second time, I have come to worship on a day when the familiar stories are heard. For the fifty-second time in my life, I am experiencing life in a congregation brought together by Christ, to be like Christ, to live like Christ, and to proclaim Christ to the world.
There are some of you out there who have come to worship this morning for the 60th or 70th or 80th or perhaps 90th time. Some have come perhaps for only their first or second or third time. But we have come together for one purpose…to worship the risen Christ…to bow down at the empty tomb and proclaim that Christ has won the victory…has defeated death…has provided us with the promise of eternal life.
About ten years ago, Dominique decided that she wanted a paper route. Now you all know what it means when an eleven year old wants a paper route. It means that dad has a paper route too. So we would get up at five thirty every morning and be out delivering papers at six o’clock. I would drive and she would gather up enough papers for one side of one block. Then I would meet her on the other end of the block and we’d do it again.
We would always have the radio tuned to a local drive-time program. One day they were talking about the movies. I wasn’t really paying too much attention to what they were saying except one of them mentioned “preaching to the choir.” Dominique asked me what that meant. I told her that preaching to the choir was saying things to people or telling people things that they already know.
For example, one of the rules on our paper route was that we never changed the station during a Beatles song (except Yellow Submarine). I told her that over and over again. I told her that was preaching to the choir.
I also told her that another example of preaching to the choir is what I do every Sunday morning. I stand up in front of all these people every week and tell them that they need to come to church…love Jesus, and live the Christian life like they mean it. But the vast majority of those folks already know that. Many of the people I preach to were Christians before I was ever born. It is preaching to the choir.
A whole lot of folks who need to hear my preaching – or the preaching of any pastor for that matter – never do because they’re not here. But even the choir needs to be reminded from time to time what notes they are supposed to be singing. Even the choir needs to practice. Even the choir needs to warm up before they can sing.
So for many of you this morning, I may be preaching to the choir. Perhaps not all of you. Perhaps there are some in this audience this morning for whom this good news of resurrection is new. Perhaps there are some who have not heard the message before. If that is you, welcome. Welcome to this place where we believe in the resurrection of Christ. Welcome to the place where we believe that Jesus has taken away our sins and provided for us an eternal home in heaven. Welcome to the place where we proclaim that death does not win the victory; the place where sin does not have the final word. Welcome to the place where we rejoice in the promise of our salvation.
Whoever I’m preaching to this morning…whether you are a long-time saint who has heard the message for years…or someone for whom this lesson is new…welcome to the place where Jesus reigns, triumphant and eternal.
Here’s the struggle I always have, no matter who is listening to me preach. I always struggle with the question, “Now what?” and “So what?” After we tell the story and lay out the case for the resurrection, what do we do? Where do we go from here? What does the resurrection and Christianity mean in real, concrete terms for my life?
Here’s the story. Jesus Christ, who had every right to sit beside God in heaven, had descended to earth and taken on the form of a servant. As a man of flesh and blood, he experienced life as we know it…the pain and the sorrow, the fear and trembling. He was misunderstood and suffered a violent death on a cross. But on this day…Easter Day…he rose again. By his rising from the grave, he defeated death. Through his resurrection, we receive the promise that we too, will life for eternity.