Easter Sunday Intergenerational Service April 21, 2019 Rev. Kim P. Wells
Last year, a bird made a nest in a bush right outside the office window here at church. First there was the nest. Then there were eggs in the nest. Then there were baby birds in the nest. And one day, the nest was empty. It was beautiful to watch the process of new life unfold. The babies had to come out of their eggshells to enjoy this big beautiful world. We see this same process with the little lizards, anoles, that we have in our yards and with many other animals. The eggshell holds the new creature until it is time for a new stage of life and then the shell cracks open and new life emerges.
Easter is in the springtime because spring is the season for new life. Farm animals have babies in the spring. Butterflies come out of their chrysalises which are like a shell. Plants also emerge with new life in the spring. Seeds and bulbs break open under the ground, like an eggshell, and then new plants appear. Flowers open. Bushes blossom. Trees get new leaves. Easter has to be in the spring because Easter is a celebration of new life. Easter eggs remind us of animals being born out of an egg into this wonderful world. New life.
At Easter in church we listen to the story of Jesus’ being killed and buried in a tomb. The tomb was thought to be like a small cave. The dead body was put inside and a large stone was used to close up the opening. In the story we tell at Easter, we hear about how Jesus’ friends go to his tomb three days after he was buried and the stone is moved away and the tomb is empty.
The Easter story tells us that Jesus’ body was gone from the tomb but that his spirit lives on in new exciting ways. It was as if he cracked out of an eggshell to a new life. And his friends and followers emerged into new life, too. They came out of their shells of fear and sadness and were excited to spread love in the world the way Jesus did. Jesus lived on in his friends. His love could not be contained in the tomb. It had to break out into the world. And that love still lives on in the world today.
The story of Easter and the symbol of the eggs remind us that we, too, can break out of our shells to enjoy new wondrous life in this world. Jesus invites us to a new way of being in the world. He shows us how love can transform our lives. Jesus wants us to break out of our shells so that we can live a beautiful life in this amazing world. Jesus wants us to live in peace. He wants everyone to be treated fairly and to have what they need to live. He wants us to learn and grow and help others. He wants us to take delight in the incredible wonder of life and this glorious world.
To do that, to be part of that kind of reality, we have to break out of our shells. Sometimes we think things, say things, and do things that hold us back from experiencing life in the new reality that Jesus shows us. When we break out of our shells, these things change.
When we join Jesus and live in his reality, we are no longer afraid of other people. When we meet people who don’t look like us, or talk like us, or eat the food we eat, or wear clothes like ours we know not to be afraid of them. Maybe you have felt afraid when a new student comes into your class at school and the student seems different in some way. New life in Jesus show us that every person is a child of God. Every person needs food and love and a safe place to live. Every person has the ability to do good things and to do bad things. People are very much alike. When we break out of our shell of fear and are part of the new life Jesus offers, we no longer judge people by how they look but, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, by the “content of their character.” New life out of the shell shows us that diversity is beautiful and it makes life better for everyone.
When we join Jesus to live in his reality we break out of our shell and live in peace. We learn that when people disagree or have different ideas, they don’t have to get out a gun or start a war to work things out. In Jesus’ reality, even when you want to do something good, you don’t use violence to make it happen. Movies for all ages brainwash us into accepting violence as a powerful tool for doing good. It’s not like that in the new reality of Jesus.
In the world of Jesus, we create a peaceful world using peaceful means. Hitting someone doesn’t make things better. It degrades the hitter as well as the one who was hit. Jesus shows us that in the new world, people resolve differences through peaceful, nonviolent means. They talk things over and work to find solutions that will work for everyone. Peer mediators in schools are wonderful models of how this works. We aren’t going to have safer schools by giving guns to teachers. We aren’t going to have a more peaceful world by maintaining a huge supply of nuclear weapons. In Jesus’ new reality we see that you cannot use violence to create peace. When we break out of our shells into the new world of Jesus, we see this truth. We work to create peace through peaceful means.
When we break out of our shells into the new reality of Jesus we see money in a new way. We see money as a tool for meeting our needs and the needs of others. It is useful for helping us get the things we need to live well like food and clothes and a place to live and health care and education. But money does not give us meaning or purpose. Every person is special and important regardless of how much money they have. Everyone can live with meaning and purpose regardless of economic status.
In Jesus’ new reality, we see that there is plenty of money in the world for everyone to have what they need. We do not need to be driven by greed. We can be generous and giving so that everyone is taken care of. There is more than enough money in the world to restore Notre Dame Cathedral and to make sure every person has access to food and health care. What about being happy about paying our taxes because they are paying for great schools and wonderful libraries and the arts and preserving nature and providing health care and protecting the vulnerable and funding renewable energy and efficient transportation? April 15 should be a celebration in support of the common good. When we break out of our shell into new life with Jesus, we can see things about money in a new way.
When we break out of our shell we become part of a new world; God’s dreams made real. We join Jesus in creating a wonderful world for every person and all forms of life. We treat ourselves and others and creation with compassion and reverence.
I recently heard about a couple that participated in an adult education class at their church about homosexuality. In the class they learned about being gay and what the Bible has to say about it. They learned about accepting this as part of the wonderful diversity of creation.
Sometime after the class the couple’s adult son, who lived in another city, called his parents, to finally reveal to them that he was gay. His mother said, Yes, we know. We took a class about it at church. It’s ok. After a brief chat, he called back later in the day. He asked, Do you know what I told you? Yes, we know. It’s ok. And that was it. The son was stunned. These people had broken out of their shell and were in the new wondrous world of love that Jesus shows us.
Birds and other animals break out of their shells to experience new life. We have to break open an Easter egg to get to the candy. Easter invites us to break out of the shells that prevent us from living life full and free. We can imagine the floor of the church littered with eggshells as we emerge into a new life – of peace and purpose, joy and wonder. And don’t forget – eggshells make great fertilizer. They help things grow. So let’s break free and grow into new life with Jesus. Amen.
A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.