Easter Sunday Reflections – The King is Risen!

Dear St. A’s Family and Friends,

Well, here we are …Easter morning!  Greetings to you all in the name of the risen Lord! Does it seem strange to be reading that while this world seems to be all topsy turvy just now?    Wouldn’t that greeting be more appropriate with us  gathered with one another in the St. A’s sanctuary with the sun pouring through the stained glass windows, the church decorated with Easter lilies and other spring flowers, our tummies “sufficiently sufanceyful”  with hot cross buns, children (and adults!) excited about Easter eggs, the strains of joyful organ music? (If you tune in  to “Easter 2020 at Saint Andrew’s United Church” on YouTube, you will hear the St. A’s organ and you can sing along!  Hey: why don’t you do that right now, but please don’t forget to come back here. I’ll miss you if you don’t.   🙂 )

….Thanks for coming back!  Now, where were we? Oh yes.  This Easter Sunday is very unusual from what we might normally be doing, but these different circumstances do not change the reality of that first Easter morning, when two women in great sorrow and probably great exhaustion, went to the tomb of their beloved crucified friend, – only to find the tomb empty! If you look at the Scriptures you will find lots and lots of confusion.  (Matthew 28: 1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, John 20: 1-18) How would we feel if we went to lay flowers at the gravesite of a recently deceased loved one, only to find it empty? Would we not also be horrified, terrified? Like, who took our loved one’s body!  And then as some accounts say that some of the women/men were met by angels saying Jesus is alive, if the same thing happened to us at the empty grave of our loved one, how believing would we be?

I remember last Easter morning working in the church library in between services. With my back turned to the door and busy working on something, I heard a woman’s voice behind me saying she was in need of talking to the minister. I confess to being a bit chagrined, thinking it might be someone wanting to get married, and I really didn’t have time to talk with her then. Like, I had the second service to finalize!  I turned around, and there was my sister and brother-in-law from Ontario! I was so startled in not expecting to see them that it took me a few seconds to recognize them, and then I just screamed and screamed, with a mixture of unbelief and delight! I can fully appreciate the confusion of those dear Easter morning folks at the empty tomb!

And then there was Mary Magdalene, a very broken woman whom Jesus had healed and who then understandably had become one of His loyal followers.  Now she weeps in confusion at the tomb. – Women do that, you know. 🙂 They weep. Well, men do too, but this time it was Mary who was weeping.  And Jesus first appears to her! Can you imagine that gentle, understanding reunion they must have had of Jesus looking into the tear-streaked face of someone whom He knew loved Him so much?   And have you ever wanted to be the first to tell somebody some exciting news? Then you will understand Mary!  Run, Mary, run!!  Jesus is alive!

This is Good Friday’s surprise ending! Two thousand years later, why is this so important to remember in a world- wide pandemic?

Well, one way why this is important goes back to Pilate’s question to Jesus at the time of His arrest. “Are you a king, then?” And Jesus answers, “You are right in saying I am a king…” And earlier Jesus says to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” …. Do we see Jesus as King, but not of this world?  Someone has beautifully pointed out that although Jesus died as a criminal, he was buried like a king.  A crucified body was usually just dumped in a garbage heap, but Jesus was entombed in a single tomb in a garden, with an enormous, expensive amount of embalming spices.   He was entombed like a king. Remember the wise men’s gifts? Gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. The wise men knew He was extraordinary!

Kings usually have kingdoms, whether they are visibly on the throne at the time or not. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “Thy kingdom come.” We acknowledge in that prayer our hope for the coming kingdom of God that started with Jesus coming to earth, that by His life He showed  how He as King cares for His people and how kingdom people live; that by His death  He defeated His evil enemy who  brought death and destruction to God’s beloved creation, and our expectation  that  one day Jesus  will return for all who have trusted in Him. Now, I know that is a run-on sentence, but it contains oodles of truth, so it may be worthwhile to read again,  – like if you are reading from some of St. Paul’s letters and his run-on sentences!

In short, Jesus is a King Whose Kingdom is not of this world, but Who fully intends to set up His kingdom with His people.  He started that when He came the first time to earth, and even though we may not fully see it realized yet, it will happen, even in spite of this virus.  Rev. Tim Keller, a well- known Presbyterian minister in New York City, uses the illustration of a dad driving his car while his  little son sits next to him with a toy steering wheel. The little guy thinks he’s driving, but who actually is steering?  We can be glad his dad is!

We can be glad that we’re not steering this world. God the King is, even when we cannot look over the dashboard to see the road ahead of us. Let us place our confidence in Him because He loves us.  Jesus showed us that love while He lived here on earth.  He knew what was happening and what would happen.

He was realistic about troubles.  He said we’d have troubles in this world, but to be of good cheer, that He has overcome the world. This pandemic is out of the world’s control but it is not out of God’s control.

St. Paul, who went through enormous amounts of troubles, (eventually martyred) confidently said that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8: 28),  that nothing ( not even a virus, not even death)   can separate us from God’s love … because of our trust in Jesus Who died, Who is risen and Who is sitting at the right hand of God speaking to God about us. (Romans 8: 31-39) Don’t forget, –  they’re a family unit; they can talk to each other about us. Isn’t that nice to know? What do you think they are saying about you?

If our trust is in the crucified and now living Lord, we can  rejoice, – even in a pandemic.  Thanks be to God!  “All glory, laud and honour to You, Redeemer, King!…”  “ Good Christians all, rejoice and sing! Now is the triumph of our King!…”  “The strife is o’er, the battle done, the victory of life is won!… “ “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine… This is my story, this is my song ….”  Joyous Easter, Everyone!

Benediction: Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.Jude 24–25

Announcements: Our sympathies are with Treasa Kenny and her husband Daniel Soucy and children Shawn and Tara in the passing of Treasa’s dad last weekend. Her dad gently slipped away while sitting on a chair by a window, watching the birds. Please also remember to pray for: John Wiwcharyk, Andrew Eccles, and Myrna Hall in hospitals, Caroline Fortier being tested for COVID,  the Ozanick family in the loss of a relative from COVID,  the present world situation, including wisdom and protection for all those at the front lines of this battle, and that God might bring healing and hope to this broken world.


Click here to see the Saint Andrew’s Easter Worship video on YouTube.


Suggested YouTube sites of spiritual insights

Rev. Mark Hughes: Church of the Rock, Winnipeg (Highly recommended by 3 St. A’s members)

Rev. Alistair Begg (speaks with a beautiful Scottish brogue! ): The Human Face of God, Trusting God in the Dark  + other meaningful sermons

Ravi Zacharias (anything by Ravi,{Wally and I were at college with him} or by his associates at RZIM. Eg. Dr. Vince Vitale, Dr. Jo Vitale, Abdu Murray, Dr.  Amy Orr –Ewing {Abdu and Amy were summer school speakers  that Craig and I attended })

Rev. Dr. David Jeremiah:  various sermons

Rev. Dr. Charles Stanley: various sermons

Rev. Timothy Keller: Trusting God in Difficult Times,  Encountering the Risen King, + many other good sermons

Pastor Francis Chan: Be still and know that I am God + other sermons

Dr. John Lennox: Where is God in a Coronovirus World?  Oxford mathematician and philosopher of science (Dr. Lennox was also a summer school speaker. I have a book he signed for me.  You’ll love his Irish accent!)