What Do We Christians Do After Easter?

 

Westminster Presbyterian Church
Westminster Presbyterian Church

 

This was the title of the sermon at Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church on April 21, 2013, by its Pastor and Head of Staff, Rev. Dr. Timothy D. Hart-Andersen.[1]

 

Rev. Hart-Andersen reminded us of our collective “bad week” with the Boston Marathon bombings, the resulting manhunt, poison letters to our president and a senator, the defeat of a bi-partisan gun control measure, the deaths in the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, the large earthquake in China and a huge snowstorm in Minnesota.  “There’s something not right with the world, but that’s nothing new. It has ever been thus.”

“We Christians are realists about the human condition. The biblical story is not one long narrative of sweetness and light. Jesus is not Pollyanna. The world is not like that; the brutality of the cross teaches us the reality that there are forces loose in the world and within each of us that lead away from the light, that pull in the direction of death and destruction.”

“Our faith is not meant to ignore that darkness. Nor is it a way to withdraw from it. If we learned nothing else from the cross . . ., at least we learned that we can face the darkness and trust it will not overcome the light. That is the simple message of Easter. Love wins. The Light does not go out. Hope prevails.”

“When we come to worship each week we’re coming to shelter-in-place together, to hold fast to our trust in a God whose love and life and justice will outlast any attempts to deny them. That is the heart of our Easter faith; we need more than ever to exercise that faith in our time.”

In the Biblical text for the day(John 21: 1-14; full text below), Simon Peter and six of the other disciples of Jesus were back at their work of fishing, but without success, on the Sea of Galilee after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Said Hart-Andersen,”Easter has happened. [The disciples have] left the city. They’ve returned to work. They have families to care for. They have lives to lead, projects to finish, children to raise. . . . They go back home.”

“For the Good News to be good it has to give us hope in the present, right in the midst of all that life throws at us. That’s what occurs to the fishermen; the new hope they have is meant for the everyday world, the world of fishing and feasting and family.”

“What do we do after Easter? Like the disciples, we go back to work, we return to the routine, we get caught up in the mundane stuff of everyday life. In a way nothing has changed; and yet, everything has been altered.”

“Our faith is not something we bring out only on Sundays; in fact, the church is most active during the week, between Sundays, and not in this building, but in our work places, at our schools, in our homes, on the streets. Jesus did not mean for us to become sequestered, holy people, living apart from the world. We were saved to go and be the church in and for the world.”

“If we limit the work of the church only to that which we do within these [church] walls, or on Sundays, or at church events . . ., we miss the whole point of the gospel. . . . [Jesus] gave his life so that we might be called into a community that joins God out there in changing the world.”

“What do we do after Easter? We take that Good News, that gospel, and go right back into the world with it. Wherever we are, we work to end the violence. Whatever we do, we work to bring peace. Whoever we are, we work to restore the goodness of creation. However we do it, we work to give children a better future.”

“We join God who is already at work in the world.”

——————————————–

[1] The church bulletin along with an audio and video recording of the service is online. Other posts discuss other sermons and the ministries of Westminster. One concerned a sermon by a former Westminster Associate Pastor, Rev. Dr. Anna Carter Florence, on the same Biblical text as the April 21st sermon.

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John 21: 1-14 (New Revised Standard):

  • “After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of [Galilee]; and he showed himself in this way.  Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.  Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
  • Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
  • When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.  Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’  So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.  Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.  This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

 

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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