Monday, March 24, 2008

Sermon - Easter Sunday - Colossians 3:1-4

The Resurrection of our Lord
Colossians 3:1-4
“With Christ”

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed. Alleluia!)

It is the day of victory. Christ has defeated his foes – vanquished sin and the Devil and death itself. And with good reason, this is the high holiday of the Christian church. Not even Christmas approaches the joy and glory that fill this day. With all God's people from every time and place, we join the chorus: Christ is Risen! (He is risen indeed. Alleluia!)

We celebrate His victory. But we also know that his victory is our victory. His vindication is our vindication. His life is our life. We see this reflected in our Easter Epistle from Colossians 3, which will serve as our text.

There is a new ad campaign being run on TV by some financial institution that has merged with another. The commercials revolve around one word: “with”. “She's with child”. “I'm with her”. “I'm with the band”. And of course these two companies are now “with” each other. “With” is a word of connection, a word of relationship. It tells you something about me, by knowing who I am with. True enough.

Today our Easter Epistle also keys in on the word “with” several times. We will consider who and what we are with, both as people who sin and as people who are saved. An important preposition which expresses the amazing proposition – we are “with Christ”.

So who are you with today? Perhaps you've come to church with your family or with a friend. Perhaps you are all alone. But that's not what I mean. I mean who are you with? Where does your allegiance lie?

It may seem like a strange question, or one that we don't often think about. But in terms of Holy Scripture there are really only two answers. Either we are with the Lord or we are not. Either we are with him, or we are against him. Who are you with?

We'd all like to think we are with the Lord, but our actions say otherwise. We call it sin. Not merely guilt by association, but sin has infected our very nature. So we are born with sin. And it is our constant companion. We do wrong things because we think wrong thoughts. We think wrong thoughts because our hearts are wrong. And so with sin comes death and with death comes sorrow and with sorrow comes tears. Were we left in our sins, we would be with-out hope.

But God does not leave us with our sins. With him all things are possible, even salvation. And so he sent us Immanuel - “God With Us” - His Son, Jesus Christ.

And Colossians tells us that now, we are “with Christ”.

First, we are raised “with Christ”. This means that we are connected with Christ in his death, and in his resurrection. He died for us, yes. But in a sense we died with him. Good Friday was the end... of our sins. “It is finished” didn't mean he was finished. But our sins are. Dead with Jesus.

But Christ has risen from the dead, not only for us, but with us. He is the first-born of the dead, not the “only-child”. Yes, in his resurrection, is our resurrection. It's very much as if we, ourselves, came back to life in his glorious defeat of death on this day.

And being raised with Christ means that our minds will also be with him – set on things above, where he is. Let our earthly thoughts reflect the heavenly reality, and let the effects of our resurrection with him begin even now.

But perhaps you don't feel resurrected today. Maybe another Easter means another Spring with a whole new slew of activities. Or maybe it means another reminder that you are getting older, and you have to pay for all those calories of Easter candy. Maybe it's great to be in church with all the singing and fanfare, but from here you go back to your daily grind of stress and problems, work, conflicts, sickness, what-have-you. Is this triumphant worship service a thin veneer of joy laid over the doldrums of everyday life? You say I am raised with Christ. But I don't feel resurrected. It's hard to see Christ in my life.

Yes, you have died. Yes, you are raised with Christ. But your life is hidden with Christ in God. There is a sense of paradox in all this celebration. The old funeral prayer says, “in the midst of life we are in death”. But Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies. And he who lives and believes in me will never die”.

Life and death at the same time. A reality that we can see, and one that is hidden. A life that one day will be revealed, but for now that we accept by faith. We are with Christ. We died and rose with him. And now our life is with him, though we can't see it.

But one day we will see it. One day our life will appear. Christ is our life, of course, and when he appears in glory then we too will appear with him in glory. Then we will easily see the reality of our eternal life in resurrected, glorified bodies. And that life, we will live forever with Christ.

This Easter Sunday – with all the believers of the past, with all the Christians around the world today, with this congregation and with angels and archangels – we praise his holy name. We confess and we know that we are with Christ, in death to sin, and we are with him in life forever. And we look forward to the final day when we appear with him in glory. For Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed. Alleluia!) Amen.

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