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Lloyd Aguinaldo:

html Easter Preaching

The call of Paul the apostle was his experience of finding himself living in a whole new world. He changed because of his realization that, in Jesus Christ, the world had changed. It was not merely that he discovered a new way of describing the world but rather that his citizenship had been moved to a radically transformed world. Pauls key testimonial to this recreation is in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:17-18) Verse 17, in the Greek, lacks both subject and verb so it is best rendered by the exclamatory, If anyone is in Christ new creation!

Certainly, old habits die hard. There are still, as Paul acknowledges so eloquently in Romans 8, the sufferings of the present time. The resistance and outright rejection that preachers suffer is evidence that the church has not yet fully appreciated the eschatological, end of the age, transformed arrangements that ought to characterize the church. We always preach between the times and rejection is often a sign that the old age and the principalities and powers still run rampant.

That many of us preachers still preach using essentially secular (i.e. godless) means of persuasion borrowed uncritically from the world is yet another testimony to our failure to believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, thus radically changing everything. In so doing we act as if Jesus were still sealed securely in the tomb, as if he did not come back to us, did not speak to us and cannot, will not speak to us today, as if preaching is something that we do through our strategies rather than through the speaking of the risen Christ.

Resurrection is not only the content of gospel preaching but also its miraculous means. Where two are three of us are gathered in his name, daring to talk about him, he is there, talking to us (Matt. 18:20). All the way to the end of the age, in every part of the world, in our baptism and proclamation, he is with us (Matt. 28:20).

I once heard a church growth expert declare, Any church that doesnt have a pull down video screen will be dead in ten years. But I believe that better technology does not make sermons work. Lack of technology cannot kill a church. Only God can kill a church. Only a living Christ can make our sermons speak to a new generation.

Christian preaching can never rest on my human experience, or even the experience of the oppressed, as some forms of Liberation Theology attempt to do, because human experience tends to be limited by the worlds deadly, deathly means of interpretation. The world keeps telling Christians to get real, to face facts, but we have after the cross and resurrection a very particular opinion of what is real. I don't preach Jesus' story in the light of my experience, as

some sort of helpful symbol or myth which is helpfully illumined by my own story of struggle and triumph. Rather, I am invited by Easter to interpret my story in the light of God's triumph in the resurrection. I really dont have a story, I dont know the significance of my little life, until I read my story and view my life through the lens of cross and resurrection. One of the things that occurs in the weekly preaching of the gospel is to lay the gospel story over our stories and reread our lives in the light of what is real now that crucified Jesus has been raised from the dead.

Will Willimon Speaking of resurrection, Patsy and I joined the congregation of Alexandria UMC on Palm Sunday for a wonderful service. Rev. Paula Calhoun is leading a remarkable turnaround at this church. In an attempt to stay on the move with the Risen Christ, they are planning a bold relocation. I believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus - I've seen it at Alexandria UMC!

Kevin Habaluyas: Leona Sanchez:

EasterWhat a Difference!
Today is Easter Sunday &, as Christians, we have gathered to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior & Lord. But even as we celebrate, our hearts are heavy with the realization that much is wrong with our world. Unrelenting hatred seems to rule supreme in the hearts & lives of so many & the fruits of terror are all too evident.

ILL. It was 19 years ago, on Feb. 27, 1991, at the height of Desert Storm, that Ruth Dillow received a very sad message from the Pentagon. It stated that her son, Clayton Carpenter, Private 1st Class, had stepped on a mine in Kuwait & was dead.

Ruth Dillow later wrote, "I cant begin to describe my grief & shock. It was almost more than I could bear. For 3 days I wept. For 3 days I expressed anger & loss. For 3 days people tried to comfort me, to no avail because the loss was too great."

But 3 days after she received that message, the telephone rang. The voice on the other end said, "Mom, its me. Im alive." Ruth Dillow said, "I couldnt believe it at first. But then I recognized his voice, & he really was alive." The message she had received was all a mistake!

She said, "I laughed, I cried, I felt like turning cartwheels, because my son whom I had thought was dead, was really alive. Im sure none of you can even begin to understand how I felt."

A. Perhaps not, but some who walked the pages of the N.T. would have understood how she felt because they experienced the same emotions themselves. One day they watched their best friend & teacher being nailed to a cross. They witnessed His pain as He cried out, "I thirst!" & "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

They listened as finally He bowed His head & said, "It is finished!" & "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit." They watched as His body was taken from the cross & buried. All their hopes

& dreams were buried with Him.

Friday & all day Saturday they mourned, until finally, on "the first day of the week, early in the morning," the scripture says, some women made their way along the path that led to His tomb, wondering who would roll away the stone for them.

But when they arrived, they found that the stone had already been rolled away. And an angel there told them, "Youre looking in the wrong place. Youre looking for Jesus among the dead. He is not dead. He is alive. He is risen, even as He said!"

"He is risen!" That is what we celebrate this morning. When all the evidence is in were convinced that Jesus is alive. He is risen from the dead, & what a difference His resurrection has made!

B. The 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians is the great resurrection chapter of the Bible. In vss 1 11 Paul writes,

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received & on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins

according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, & that He appeared to Peter, & then to the 12.