I’ve got a juicy little bit of gospel for you. It’s the best piece of gossip, the best piece of news that you have ever heard. He is Risen! Hallelujah, our Christ is risen from the dead! Oh happy day!
That’s exactly why we are here. We have been given this piece of information, this piece of gossip, this piece of Good News and we have come to believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, that he is the one who forgives us our wrongs, that he lived, died, and rose again. And today, this very special day, we celebrate his resurrection, his coming back from the dead, his life as it’s carried on in a new way.
This is the why. We know what happened in Judea. We know what happened in Galilee and through all of the Middle East. We know these stories. I hear over and over again about how sad it is that this world doesn’t believe anymore, that Christianity is a dying religion, that young people don’t believe. I hear it. You hear it. Some of you may say it and believe it too. Some of you may believe that God isn’t in our schools or our courthouses, that God has been banished from this country even.
But God hasn’t. God is very much alive in us today. The spirit resides in us through our belief, through our baptism, through our sharing and preaching of the Good News of peace throughout the land. We do NOT have the power to make God disappear, to banish the amazing presence of our creator from four walls that make up a building or the air that makes up a state or a country.
No one has that power.
But we do have the power to forget. We do have the power to not share, to not understand WHY it is we are here. We are here because we believe. We are here because someone shared the Good News of peace with us, someone told us the stories of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, someone showed us how to commune with our dead savior.
Our neighbors, our friends, our family are not here because we haven’t shared with them this story. We haven’t shared our juicy bit of gossip with them. Instead, we focus on those other things in life, the things we let affect us when we shouldn’t, the things that distract us from what a wonderful and beautiful day this is.
I know all about distractions. Trust me when I say I think everyone in this room knows and understands distractions. But our goal, our purpose needs to exactly what Peter is telling us in this passage. We know all about who Jesus is, what he can do for us, and what he does do for us. We know his history, his life, from beginning to end and after.
There’s wonder in that story. There’s beauty it in. There’s surprise and intrigue. It’s seriously the best story I’ve ever read, and one that I can and will and do read over and over again. It’s a book that I can’t put down, one that I’m addicted to. And you know what? The story continues. It goes on after the words on the pages end. It goes on through the stories we tell each other, just like Peter is doing in this passage.
He’s sharing with others the power of his why. The reasons why he is who he is. The why of how he got his start and how he knows he’ll get his end. We know all about “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. [How] he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day [TODAY!] and made him to appear.”
We are witnesses of ALL that Jesus did. We are the ones who can talk about what happened. We’re the ones who can tell the story because we saw it happen. We saw the power of the Holy Spirit at work. This is why there are stories of real live people in this decade in my sermons. These are situations, these are moments, where I witness the power of the Holy Spirit, the work of Jesus in our lives. These are the times when I can share with you what I have witnessed.
You have these stories too. You know what they are. You see them. You experience them. This is what we are witness to. We’ve seen and experienced Jesus’ story first hand, how he changed his life, our lives, the lives of those around us in worship today, and the lives of his disciples. Do you think Peter was always Peter? No!
He wasn’t. He probably never expected his life to change as it did. He never saw it coming. But Jesus came to him, shared with him the stories he knew, the Good News of peace that he had witness in the world two thousand years ago, and that’s how Peter came to follow Jesus. That’s how Jesus taught Peter to be a disciple, to teach others, to share the Good News of peace.
This is a moment when gossip is good, when we do need to be sharing and telling what we’re hearing. We have “been chosen by God as witnesses, [as those] who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” That’s the wonder of our communion practice, of sharing together in the bread and the body. Not only are we connecting ourselves to everyone today who is partaking in the meal, but all those who have come and gone before us, including Jesus himself. We’re all sharing in the meal.
And with each new believer, with each new follower, the table gets one seat bigger, our family grows, and the Good News of peace spreads even further. It’s true. We know that! We are to share the Good News, this juicy piece of gossip that he is risen! Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is risen today! He is alive. Our God’s not dead. He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today.