Worship at Home for April 17

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is Easter when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This is the most important celebration of the church year because today is the day that we remember and rejoice that God has done a new thing. Jesus is not in the tomb! Jesus is alive!

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • Easter Sunrise Worship at 6:30 pm at the St. Peter’s UCC Cemetery
  • Worship with Communion at 9am at St. Peter’s UCC
  • Newsletter articles are due on Sunday.
  • Grief Group on Tuesday, April 19 at 7pm. This will be the last Grief Group meeting. In the fall I will begin a Widows Group.
  • Handbell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • Chancel Choir at 6:30 on Wednesday
  • Memorial Service for Virginia LeClaire at 2pm on Saturday
  • Youth Group meeting next Sunday at 4:30pm to shop for and make birthday boxes for Helping Hands.
  • Baskets are in the back of the church to contribute to Ukraine Relief.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 65:17-25, 1 Corinthians 15:19-26, Luke 24:1-12

Sermon: On the First Day of the Week

Luke 24 begins with the phrase, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning…” This phrase leads us to anticipate a new beginning. What that new beginning will hold is yet to be known. Think of all the first days in your life; the first day of school, the first day of a new job, the first day of the football, basketball, or baseball season. Each new season offers up new possibilities. What new possibilities will the first day of the week hold for the women on the way to the tomb?

The women were in grief. The previous week had ended horribly. Jesus whom they loved had been crucified, had died, and was buried. The women were bringing expensive spices to keep Jesus' dead body from giving off a bad odor and to express their love. Like many of us when we grieve, they were performing those acts of mourning that help to deal with grief. Even though going to the tomb of one who has been crucified is dangerous, they went to show their love through this ritual of mourning. But the stone is rolled away, and the tomb is empty.

Have you ever prepared to do one thing and found that you were totally unprepared for the actual situation? I mean let’s say you hid in your basement to survive a tornado. After fearing death, you came out of your hiding place to discover that your home is ruined. It is late and you are tired, so you take refuge in the home of friends. Early the next morning prepared with clean up and repair supplies, you return. But where you expected to see your wrecked home stands a shiny new home with your name on the mailbox and favorite pictures hanging on the walls. What is this new thing? How can it be?

The women had prepared to care for the dead body of Jesus but found an empty tomb. Shiny angels greeted the frightened women with these words,” Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here he has risen!” (Luke 24:5) Early on the first day of the week a new thing has been done. Jesus is alive!

Isaiah 65 tells of God’s promise to do new things:

17 For I am about to create new heavens

and a new earth;

the former things shall not be remembered

or come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I am creating;

for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,

and its people as a delight. Isaiah 65:17-18

The disciples would have known these words, but they like us kept expecting the old. When the women returned from the tomb telling their story, the disciples/apostles who have hidden themselves away in fear, dismiss their story as nonsense.

Can you imagine the conversation? How did they tell the story? Did the women speak of their grief? Did they stumble over each other each other’s telling of the story? Did they tell of their confusion when they found that the tomb was empty? Just how frightening they found the men in clothes that gleamed like lighting. How hurt were they when they weren’t believed? How relieved they must have been when Peter ran to the tomb and found himself wondering too. New and incredible things may be hard to believe even when the new truth is good and should be cause for rejoicing. A story like Jesus not in the tomb, he is risen from the dead.

Lucy Lind Hogan a Professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. tells this story in her commentary on the Working Preacher Website about the resurrection story in Luke:

Years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land with a church group. My husband was telling our eldest son that I would be going. “Why?” he asked. I think my husband was a bit confused. His response was, “Well, you know, Jesus.” I have long recalled my son’s response because I think he understood the angels’ admonition. He told his father, “Tell her he’s not there.”

Jesus is not in the tomb! Jesus is doing a new thing and is out in the world. Like a seed that has been planted and returns as a beautiful flower. Jesus has come out of the tomb as an amazing Savior who brings hope and beauty to all.

The following story in Luke 24:13-35 also takes place on the first day of the week. This story concerns two disciples on the road home to Emmaus. As the two walk home from Jerusalem and talk about what had happened to Jesus, they gain a traveling companion. This traveling companion explains to them about how it was necessary for Jesus to suffer these things before entering into his glory. It is when Jesus breaks bread with them that they recognized him. A new thing had been done; Jesus is not in the tomb. Jesus is in the world walking and talking to ordinary people. Jesus is alive! May we all rejoice that Jesus is alive and doing new things in this world.

Prayer: Alleluia Jesus lives! May we allow the living Christ to do things in our lives. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Jaqueline, Friends of Shelby, Bobby, and for peace in the world in Ukraine and other war-torn places.
Prayers for the family and friends of Billy Ahring at his passing last week.

 

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