Sermons

Summary: Easter matters because the Christian God has identified with our humanity.

WHY DOES EASTER MATTER?

EASTER SUNDAY, 2001

Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin tells the story about the late Senator Hubert Humphrey and Federal Judge Miles Lord.

Humphrey and Lord were on a fishing trip in Northern Minnesota. While at a sporting goods store, the Judge noticed a tour bus from California that was broken down outside the store.

Feeling a bit mischievous, he went out and introduced himself as the mayor of the town. He told them he was sorry about their plight; if there was anything that he could for them, just come by his office.

Then he set a trap for Senator Humphrey. He told them that there was an old-timer in town who looked, talked, and acted like Senator Humphrey. The poor fellow even thought that he was Senator Humphrey.

Judge Lord told the people that this man would probably pay them a visit and masquerade as the senator. He asked the tourists to be kind to this confused man and humor him. He warned them not to give him money, but assured him that he was harmless.

Lord then returned to the store and told the Senator that there was a busload of tourists who wanted to meet him. Hubert Humphrey loved people and immediately entered the bus to meet his admirers. Upon his return, Judge Lord asked him how it went. He told the judge that he shook hands with everyone on the bus.

With a puzzled look on his face he told his friend that he just did not understand those California people. Every time he shook one of their hands, that person would turn to the other and they would all giggle.

Appearances can be not only deceiving but also altered, can’t they?

We live in a time with a thing called ‘virtual reality’ which allows us to experience events that we could either not afford or be able to do. For example, last summer I entered a place called NASCAR Experience at a fairly new mall in the Grand Rapids area.

This shop is designed solely to allow an individual to experience the type of action that your favorite NASCAR driver does only more cheaply and more safely.

They are small places with 10 small-scale replicas of NASCAR machines. You pay a reasonable fee, go through an orientation, then pick your machine, climb in, strap in and get ready for a race.

The cars act like the real thing from the rumble of the idling engines to the sudden bump of hitting a wall.

I had a wonderful spot on the starting grid. I got away cleanly (I used the automatic transmission feature) and was in the top 10 for several laps. And then it happened; somebody hit me, and caused me to lose my place.

From that point on I would start gaining on the field only to be hit again and again and out of twenty places finish 18th. But, do you know what? There were only about 10 machines in the store. The remaining 10 drivers were linked via computer simulation.

And only one of us driving in that particular store made the top ten. The rest? They were all the computer simulated "drivers."

Now,it’s fun to do such things and there are a lot of clean and wonderful things to do with modern technology. To the point that reality gets to be, well, rather dull. But there lies the problem.

Reality becomes easy to escape from – but only for a while. Then reality somehow sneaks its way back into our lives and we have to face it.

Reality hit home to the disciples that Friday night when Jesus was laid to rest. The one that had loved them, performed miracles by delivering people who were without hope, and taught them some amazing things, was gone. Dead.

I have always wondered what the Saturday after Good Friday was like for the followers of Jesus. What did they do? Where did they go? What were they thinking? What were they experiencing?

Reality has a way of taking the joy right out of our hearts. But, this is Resurrection Sunday!

Reality was forever changed when Jesus Christ walked out of the tomb where he had been buried. And human existence would never be the same again!

Not only do we live in a time of ‘virtual reality’ we also live in a time of something called ‘pluralism.’ What does that mean?

Well for one it means that Christianity can no longer rely on its status as the ruling faith of America. Yes, Christianity still dominates our religious landscape but it is now challenged by other faiths in ways that few of us would have ever imagined.

Now we can get upset about this loss of prestige and blame the government for the problem or, we can perhaps begin to rely on the power of God to help us be the people of God.

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