In light of the trip Julie and I are about to embark upon, in two weeks we'll be visiting the sites St. Paul visited on his missionary journeys. And in remembering our earlier trip to Israel to follow the footprints of Jesus, I want to begin today's message with a quote from Lucy Lind Hogan who is the Hugh Latimer Elderdice Professor of Preaching and Worship at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D. C. “Years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land with a church group. My husband was telling our eldest son that I would be going. 'Why?' he asked. I think my husband was a bit confused. His response was, 'Well, you know, Jesus.' I have long recalled my son’s response because I think he understood the angels’ admonition. He told his father, 'Tell her he’s not there.'
It is entitled “The Easter Angels” by Nora Spinaio. (Michael: Gordy, Gabriel: Julie)
Michael: ( He appears distraught and disappointed. Sighs heavily) No! He said no. No rescue, no battle, no…(shakes head) He went through with it. It’s in…incomprehensible. (beat) We were there. He could have called us; but (beat) he didn’t. 10 thousand angels were ready and waiting for the word. But, the word never came. He chose to help these (shakes head) humans. How it could be the only way I don’t know. The King of Kings dying on a cross for humans, just another of his creations, I don’t understand.
Gabriel: So, what’s new about that, Michael.
Michael: Not a thing. When he said “It is finished”, I wasn’t needed so I came back here.
Gabriel: Your job was done.
Michael: Done? How could it be done when he never called us. 10 thousand angels waiting in the wings; but, Jesus never called us. Not that it would have taken 10 thousand, or even 10.
Gabriel: I know but it was important to Him. Remember, he told all of us that he loved these humans even with all their sin. He said it was the only way to save them.
Michael: (Takes a deep breath) It feels like days ago now.
Gabriel: It was, three earthly days. That’s where I’ve been, you know, sitting on a tombstone.
Michael: That couldn’t have been comfortable.
Gabriel: (short laugh) Wasn’t.
Michael: (Rises and paces) You can laugh now. I saw the torture, the ridicule, the hate. What a waste!
Gabriel: Waste? He didn’t seem to think so. You should have stayed longer. You should have waited and watched him as he rose from the dead. He just sat up and smiled.
Michael: He would. He’s so mild in his movements, Not like me (picks up sword and swipes the air with it)
Gabriel: You think mild? (beat) I watched him when he went (beat) you know, there.
Michael: (does a double take) There? He preached there
Gabriel: Yes. But that wasn’t all.
Michael: The keys, how was that?
Gabriel: Glorious. He was magnificent as he walked right up to Lucifer and took the keys of death, hell, and the grave. Lucifer couldn’t even look Jesus in the eye he was shaking so badly.
Michael: And, then?
Gabriel: Nothing. That was it.
Michael: Nothing? I thought he’d at least….
Gabriel: Me too. But, he took the keys, turned around and he was gone. There will be time later for the rest.
Michael: At the end of the age.
Gabriel: (nods) At the end of the age.
Michael: Where is he now?
Gabriel: On Earth talking to some of the disciples.
Michael: You mean (gasps) he forgave them? Even….
Gabriel: Especially Peter.
Michael: What is this thing with him and these humans?
Gabriel: Creation, I suppose.
Michael: I don’t get it. Why humans? They’re sinful and self-centered and…
Gabriel: (interrupts) You know as much as I do. It has to be the soul thing.
Michael: And the free will thing.
Gabriel: There is that. You mix free will with the love of God for his creation and this is what you get.
Michael: I still don’t get it.
Gabriel: But, will they? Will they believe?
Michael: Looking down through the eons, we’ll see. But first, they need to remember...
(The Crowd joins in:)
Steph Rech: “It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.
Bob: It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.
Dean: It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.
Sue: It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.
Don M.: It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.
Matthew: It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.
Amy V.: It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.
__________: It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.
__________: It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.
Beth: It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s coming.
And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect ma destroyed n died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday. Now it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday. And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb.
Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed. It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.”
Gabriel: So, they know.
Michael: Do they all believe?
Gabriel: There will always be some that believe.
Michael: Some believe that he rose and is alive.... now and forever.
Hymn: Christ is Alive 108 PH
Michael: So these few people gathered here believe. But, what of the others? Was it worth it for so few?
Gabriel: Jesus thinks it was worth it even for just one.
Michael: Just one? One?
Gabriel: (to the audience) Yes, just one……You. (The End)
Gordy: This message is a message of love, of hope, of grace. As Paul wrote, “If fo this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.” We celebrate this message right now by sharing the sacrament Jesus instituted just three days before this resurrection we are celebrating. The truth of his victory is again, given by Paul, “For Jesus must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
He destroyed death by rising from the dead. And that is why we celebrate, that is why we share this sacrament. As the elders and deacons come forward to prepare the table, remember the question of the angel...Was it worth it? Jesus answered that question by willingly suffering all for us. Yes, everything Jesus went through was worth it-- to him... and he did it all for you. And for us, the Church universal. And with the Church universal we share the prayers of institution and invite the risen Christ into our midst right now in the sacrament of communion:
The Lord be with you...
1Hogan, Lucy Lind Working Preacher website April 17, 2022
2Hankey, Arabella Katherine Hymn: Tell Me the Old, Old Story 1866