Sermon, EASTER DAY
Sunday March 27, 2016, St Petri
Isaiah 65:17-25Pure Delight.17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They will not labour in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.http://stpetri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/20160327_message.mp3
Friends, on this day of days for all Christians around planet earth and singing with the angels in glory already, we hear those confused disciples cry out, “He is risen!” As the penny drops and they say, “He did it!”
Like when you are acknowledged for some achievement that you did not know you had achieved or when you finally get to the end of that thing and the relief and the joy overwhelms you, so this day unfolds in our hearts.
We hear that fiery prophet of long ago struggle to try and express the absolute delight he finds in the new thing that God gives him.
He throws everything including the kitchen sink into this long song trying to capture something of the delight he senses in the outrageous and freely given good news of the Lord –
that despair, darkness, evil in the world and in my life, suffering in all its forms, tears of grief, sorrow and fear, the anxiety of conflict, the gut wrenching emotions of relationship breakdown, the pain of separation and divorce, the suffering of addictions, the struggle to make ends meet, the worry about whether or not I am going to make it in life will be transformed into pure delight!
This ground and this sea and sky will be transformed into its pristine best.
The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
All that the Lord did in the past which was very good will be outdone by what he does now – so much so that we will no longer need to remember the good old days of the past glorious moments. Like a retired sportsperson who has reached the pinnacle, every time he lets his little granddaughter run into his arms the grand finals and the medals and glory pale into insignificance.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
Tears of suffering and grief will be removed from us all.
20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, ….the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred will be considered accursed. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.
Joblessness, underemployment, slaving away day and night to make ends meet, bad seasons, frosts, drought, fire, flood, turmoil, risk and worry about debt will be a thing of the past as the land yields it reliable, fruitful and satisfying yield and no one will ever threaten that ever again.
For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They will not labour in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord.
Work will be revolutionised. Work won’t be a chore or a thing that you do to pay for the weekend – just meaningless marking of time and watching the clock until you get paid so you can ‘really live”. The work itself will be a delight and none of it will be useless or meaningless or without great personal and communal reward.
24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
We and the Lord of all creation will be very close and totally at peace. Here will be no fear of the Lord’s judgement or disapproval of us.
Like a couple who have lived their lives together for 30 years, the understanding is deep and the experience long. Conversation often need very few words for understanding to be reached. So it will be between us and the Creator.
And “He did it!” Jesus dis it all, said it all, took it all, dealt with them all, and defeated it all in our place and he is the everlasting new thing, new space, new time, new presence, new promises, new life, new goal, new everything in which we all now live.
Every wound he sustained, every insult he copped, every ounce of sacrificial blood he shed, every word of truth that sets people free he spoke surrounded us, drowned us, breathed life into us in that moment of baptism and as Paul says today;
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
He is our life together in this place and because we have been so privileged by his love, so delighted to have this present and future belonging, hope and love, we are called to set our minds and hearts on him now.
What does this mean practically?
Here’s what the Scriptures call us to…
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (self-worship)……rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips…….since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, …..but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:5-10)
They are the things to lose. These are things to embrace…
12 as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Today we live in his love again. The eggs, the butterflies, the flowers all speak of the delight, the joy, the hope we share in this church.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)
Delight in him today.
Delight in our life together in Jesus today. He did it.
He is Risen
He is risen indeed!