Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Newsletter: Needs Repeating

Easter poses a special challenge to preachers. For almost 2000 years, people have proclaimed that "Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed." And in a variety of venues, pastors have tried to show the relevance of that profound statement to their congregations. After countless sermons and devotions, what else should be said? Isn’t there a danger of repeating oneself?

I heard a preacher once say, "I’ve preached multiple times on ever character in the Easter story. If only God could have slipped in one more name, I would have another ten years of sermons." There is a whole category of Christian literature which is fictional yet speaks to the death and resurrection of Jesus. In one story, the death of Jesus is told from the perspective of the tree which was hewn to make the cross. In another story, a fourth wise man shows up thirty-something years late and encounters a crucified and then a risen Christ. In still another, a Roman soldier investigating the missing body of Jesus, a la CSI, comes to faith. Each of these stories is a repackaged gospel presented fresh and new.

I see nothing wrong with making imagination a servant of faith, but I wonder why we are so worried about repeating ourselves. Jesus of Nazareth lived showing the compassion of God, calling the world to repentance. This Jesus is our Emmanuel–God with us. He was arrested for blasphemy and sedition, and the Romans crucified him. This act of betrayal and sacrifice had cosmic implications. It becomes the very avenue God uses to reconcile ourselves to Him. After three days, Jesus is raised making his victory complete. Death, sin and evil are destroyed. Here is our good news: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Cor 15:55).

When we walk through life encumbered with sorrows and pain, we need to be reminded of good news. The gospel may not be original but it remains our victory. In our attention-deficit world some things need repeating. "Tell me the old, old story of Jesus and his love."

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