Sermon for Easter Sunday
St. John’s Church
April 4, 2010
This morning I must admit that I have not written a sermon. I hope that none of your hearts leapt for joy when I said that, but I must let you know that these brief words that I am about to share are not mine, but are the words of one of the most Godly men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting – The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda. I met His Grace once while in seminary, and again at a gathering in Tallahassee when I was at All Saints’, and both times I knew that I was in the presence of a special individual. I’m sure you can relate and can think of similar people in your life who moved you in such a special and profound way. Someone posted the link to the Archbishop’s Easter message from 2006 on a blog site a few weeks ago, and as soon as I read it, I knew I had to share it with you this morning because it succinctly states the miracle of this day, and does so with clarity and profundity.
I realize that some of what he says does not apply to us here in America or Moultrie, GA for that matter. However, I’ve included it so that you can see how he applies the Easter message to all who might have the opportunity to hear it, and how the Christian message is relevant to every aspect of our lives.
When we are told the water tank for the Archbishop’s Palace is empty (which it often is!), we say, “That is not good.” When my wife, Mama Phoebe, discovers that the food store is empty, we say, “That is not good.” When my driver tells me that the fuel tank in my vehicle is empty, I say, “That is not good.” If you are like me, most of our associations with the word ‘empty’ are negative. We think, “empty is bad, and full is good.” Yet, Easter challenges that assumption, because it is an empty cross and an empty tomb that are central to our faith. The resurrec¬tion from the dead of Jesus Christ sets him apart from all other human beings throughout history and especially all other religious teachers. Buddha is dead. Confucius is dead. Mohammed is dead. Jesus and Jesus alone has returned from the grave, never to die again. Jesus is alive today! Empty is good! Death is the most destructive force in the world and no one else in the whole world except Jesus has overcome death by rising from the dead! That means that those who are “in Christ” can also overcome death and all the other destructive forces at work in the world today. In Christ, we can have victory over negative attitudes, over self-destructive behaviours and habits, over hurtful experiences, over damaging relationships, and over devastating circumstances. Empty is good! We are not powerless to deal with these issues in our lives! Jesus has conquered death; He is victorious. And, through Him, we too can be conquerors and victorious. • Are you struggling with anger? Through Jesus, you can conquer anger and be victorious! • Are you struggling with alcohol? Through Jesus, you can conquer alcohol and be victorious! • Are you struggling with lust? Through Jesus, you can conquer lust and be victorious! • Are you struggling with envy or jealousy? Through Jesus, you can conquer envy and jealousy and be victorious! • Are you struggling with feeling inferior to others? Through Jesus, you can conquer inferiority and be victorious! • Are you struggling with fear? Through Jesus, you can conquer fear and be victorious! • Are you struggling with pride and arrogance? Through Jesus, you can conquer pride and arrogance and be victorious! The empty cross and the empty tomb are good! Jesus “is not here; he is risen!” (Luke 24.6) As a country we struggle with resolving regional conflicts, especially in the north and northeast. But, through Jesus, we can be victorious over conflict and be the inheritors of peace. I call upon the LRA to stop shedding innocent blood. Lay down your guns and come back home to peaceful living and build a unified Uganda. I call upon cattle raiders to lay down your weapons and let Jesus turn your “swords into plowshares.” (Micah 4.3) Through Jesus, together we can all be victorious. As a country we struggle because our children die prematurely from easily preventable diseases. But, through Jesus, we can be victorious over premature death. I call upon all families to build and use pit latrines or toilets, to boil all drinking water, and to observe good principles of personal hygiene and community sanitation. Through Jesus, we can be victorious! As a country we struggle with changing weather patterns, which cause drought and lead to untold human suffering and pain. But, through Jesus, we can be victorious. I call upon every village and community to start planting trees and to pray daily for rain to replenish our lakes and our land. Through Jesus, we can be victorious! As a country we struggle with debilitating diseases like HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But, through Jesus, we can be victorious. I call upon every man, woman and child in Uganda to abstain from sex before marriage and to be faithful to one partner in marriage. I urge every cook in every family to prepare low-fat, low-salt, and low-sugar meals with lots of vegetables and fruits. Through Jesus, we can be victorious! As a country we struggle with low self-esteem. But, through Jesus, we can be victorious. I call upon every Ugandan to open your eyes, your mind, and your heart to see the wealth of natural resources God has given to Uganda – fertile soil, natural beauty, lakes, mountains, plains, temperate climate, minerals, and hospitable and hard-working people. We have been given much, and Jesus said, “To whom much has been given, much will be required.” Through Jesus, we will be victorious! We send greetings to the President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, both new and returning Members of Parliament, all other newly elected officials, and all the people of God in Uganda. I wish you all a joyful Easter full of personal and national victory through Jesus. The cross is empty and the tomb is empty. Why? Because Jesus has conquered sin and death and been found victorious. Through Jesus, we, too, can conquer our personal and national struggles and be found victorious! Empty is good. Happy Easter!