Der Vasken’s Sermon on April 4, 2021

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

We just heard the #1 story that has been translated into every known language on earth. We heard what has been referred to as “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It is the story of the first Easter. It is the story upon which our faith is founded. It is the story that tells of Jesus walking out of the Tomb and proclaiming to the world these Words: “In this world you will have trials and tribulations but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”

Without the Easter Story, nothing else Jesus Christ said or did would mean anything. It is the greatest story ever spoken or shared or spread about the Son of God and it is read in every country, in every church and in every culture across the world on this day. The story of Easter gives meaning to all the other stories of the Bible. These are stories that the saints of the church spoke about and wrote about and many even died for teaching about. They are stories we will speak of today and pass on through the generations.

I have been asked many times why the Bible contains so many stories about so many people and why do we read one story after another of Jesus meeting people with difficulties. These were ill people—people who shouldered all sorts of problems and concerns and challenges throughout their lives:

• A thief on a cross,
• A grieving widow,
• A mother who lost her only child,
• A wealthy man rejected,
• A disciple shamed,
• A father confused and on and on we read of different people with different problems.

These were all good people but they had their share of problems, so why are their stories in the Bible? I think it is because their situations were different but their hearts were the same. They felt alienated and rejected and beaten down. They had nowhere to turn.
On their lips were desperate prayers. In their hearts were forgotten dreams and broken hopes, but standing before each one of these people was the One Son of God, Who stepped into their lives when everyone else stepped out.

The actions of Jesus Christ were surprisingly simple. He entered their lives and met them where they were in life. He touched their lives with His Words. He spoke of kindness and love and forgiveness and healing. No one ever spoke like Him. No one ever did anything that came close to doing what He did. He touched their lives. He placed His fingers on blind eyes and extended His hand to the forgotten. He touched withered limbs and ears that couldn’t hear. He breathed life back into a young girl and in to a man He called a friend. He touched people verbally and physically. He touched them emotionally and spiritually and the lives of these people were all bettered because of it.

His Words were different. His Words came to life when He walked out of the Tomb and announced to the world “Fear not, for I have overcome the world”—the greatest words ever spoken. These stories are not just Sunday School lessons. They are not fables or myths and they are not illusions. The purpose of these stories is not to tell us what Jesus Christ did. Their purpose is to tell us what Jesus Christ does and can do. You see, the Bible is an “unfinished book.”

The continuing stories are about our lives today. Our lives are as significant to God as were the lives of people written about 2,000 years ago. God knows that from time to time we, too, struggle with overcoming great problems and feeling discouraged and being marginalized or forgotten by the world around us. We, too, struggle with issues of faith and growing older. We, too, wonder if our prayers really matter or when we feel that God Himself forgot about us. Just like the people of the Bible, we, too, wonder what to do when evil stares us in the face or when the sun never seems to shine on our family.

God knows that:

• We have grown tired from spending a year away from each other;
• We have grown tired from spending a year apart from our friends and teachers in school and our co-workers and colleagues;
• We have grown tired of postponing the weddings and baptisms of our children;
• We have grown tired from not being able to do more to help our homeland after that devastating war that took the lives of young and old and took away so many of our ancestral homes and churches and family cemeteries;
• We have grown tired because we buried too many loved ones over the longest year of our lives;
• We have grown tired but God know that we, too, struggle every bit as much as the people of the Bible did and that we, too, need His healing Words and His healing Touch and so He says to us: “Fear not, for I have overcome the world.”

Let me end with this thought. On the day when Jesus Christ walked out of the Tomb, Hope walked out with Him and Hope doesn’t quarantine. Hope doesn’t require social distancing. Hope doesn’t have limits and Hope has a way of changing the lives of all who place their trust in the resurrected Lord.

May you all have a very Blessed & Happy Easter with your families and loved ones.

Amen.

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