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Easter sermon: Acts 10:34-43

April 8th, 2010 by isaac · 2 Comments

I’ve been told that Easter is a supposed to be an easy sermon for pastors. But every year I preach on Easter the texts get more interesting and a little harder to preach. This year I wrestled with Peter’s offer of Christ’s forgiveness in the story from Acts. Here’s an extended passage from my sermon:

Easter becomes a verb: the presence of Christ in us, making us anew, turning us into good news for the world, converting us into a presence of forgiveness—of joy and delight, as God says today in our passage from Isaiah: “I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people” (Isa 65:18-19).

When Christ easters in us, we become a reason for joy and delight, we share in offering God’s joy and delight in the world. But first comes the transformation of forgiveness, which may seem like the death of us. Let me explain. We hold grudges. We dislike some people. We keep a list of wrongs—someone who has sinned against us, or a certain class of people who we think is responsible for the injustices in our lives or the world. We order our world with these lists—the good people in this column, the bad people in that one. And these lists help us make sense of the world—we use them for telling the stories of history, our family history, our country’s history, our personal history, any kind of story. We can’t help but think about our world and our lives in terms of us against them, the good over here and the bad over there, enemies and friends, republicans and democrats, the working-class and the wealthy, Duke fans and UNC fans… the list can go on, depending on what you care about and who you care about and who you could care less about.

This is why forgiveness can feel like the unraveling of our lives. Letting our selves be transformed into Christ’s presence of forgiveness can feel like the end of our world, of everything we know, the death of our ego. Letting the risen Jesus easter in us means death to the old, to our familiar life, to the way things used to be, how we used to make sense of the world—of figuring out who are our friends and who are our enemies, of categorizing people according to our preconceptions.

Forgiveness means the end of competition, the end of rivalry, the end of a zero-some game where someone has to lose so you can win. Jesus comes back to forgive his enemies, not to plot their demise and his victory. Easter is not a victory over enemies, but an invitation to forgive, to let go of everything that holds us back from the embrace of reconciliation. To let forgiveness take its hold in our lives, to let Christ’s forgiveness work itself out in our lives.

For the rest of it, follow this link to my church webpage: “Easter in us”

Tags: sermons

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