EASTER Makes All the Difference – Living With Our Tough Assignments

Did you know there’s a website on the internet called eHow? Whatever you gotta, it’s their task to show you the way. Eight million times a month somebody taps in. Over 70,000 articles support your every enquiry. Well, not every enquiry. For example, eHow is a bit short on getting to heaven. And sustaining hope against all odds. And getting through when it seems impossible to get by! For how to’s in these, we require a higher authority!

Who here hasn’t sometime been at the end of their rope? (Maybe today.) Who here hasn’t felt not-up-to-the-task? Overwhelmed? Unprepared for what needs to be done? You know…

I can’t do it! I just can’t.

I’ve got so much to do I can’t possibly get it all done.

It’s just all too much for me… and now this on top of it all!

HELP!

Well… we’ve got good news. It turns out Easter makes all the difference. And I’m not inclined to leave anyone in suspense. So, right up front, let’s say what we need to know eHow doesn’t cover.

  • We don’t have to do it all. Christ has set our priorities for us.
  • We don’t have to do it all alone; Jesus Risen has sent us help.
  • What we don’t know, but need to, we’ll be taught.

(We just need to stay tuned in faithful conversation.)

Have you got it? We don’t need to (people)… do it all. Better, we don’t need to do it all, how (people)… alone. Best, what we don’t know, but need to (people)…we’ll be taught. The Spirit will teach us.

So stay tuned. Now perhaps there’s not much new in hearing this. But living it… ahh… that could be revolutionary. Even redeeming!

I look around this room, this congregation. I see folks in a fix. Souls assailed. Families in ferment. Questions unnerving/unending.

Will the child we expect be OK at its birth? How can we cope with another mouth to feed/soul to shepherd? Will the child we have be alright after the surgery we await? Will I get well again? How do we care for the loved one who won’t? With gas (and everything else) up, and retirement income and savings down, am I gonna get by? How can I possibly do my job, attend my house, run my kids…

do church, fully embrace the love of my life, and take good care (or at least a little care) of me? Tough assignments all. But there’s news!

We don’t need to (people)… do it all. Christ has set our priorities. He has sorted it out for us. He has set the outer limits of the doable by defining what is the most desirable (and desired) of heaven. You see, with the cross before him and the shattered tomb just beyond, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” On first blush, we may shrink back and shriek, “Not another list!” But on more spiritually mature reflection, Christ wants us to know this is our only list. Jesus has fenced off all the other demands of the wanna-be-gods of our age and the sure-to-be-false saviors. He lets us know every other claim on us may be nothing more than pride (I can do this… and that too). ‘Nothing less than blasphemy (playing God by pretending we’re in charge). ‘Nothing other than neurotic guilt (somehow everything is my fault). ‘Every bit a false

hope. (If I just give my kids Sunday School & soccer & band & play practice & ballet & karate & calculus & poetry, they’ll grow up “above average”, end up happy and surely be saved!) Jesus says something very different. “This is all the blessing you need and all the burden you can bear.”…

Repent. Turn toward, not away from God: the Kingdom’s here.

Be born of water and the Spirit.

Believe in God. Believe also in me.

Give God what God is due.

Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength

and your neighbor as yourself.

Love one another as I love you.

Don’t be afraid.

As often as you break the bread, drink the cup, remember me.

Go baptize and make disciples.

(All the rest can be summed in one of these.)

‘Next time somebody tells you to get your act together, remember this all you’re called to act on. All else is of the Great Pretender.

You’re not hearing much that’s new here. But living it… could be revolutionary. Even redeeming! Not only do we not have to do it all in this life, we don’t have to do it all, how (people)… alone. Easter sits between the promises of Christ to send the Holy Spirit! The Spirit comes to us to be for us in three amazing ways.1. To pray for us when our words are not enough or just not there at all. 2. To come alongside us on earth and in heaven as our Advocate (our spokesperson, lawyer, faithful attendant and eternal friend). And 3. The Spirit comes to empower us when we have not the power ourselves to bring the Kingdom on earth as in heaven. Three times this week I’ve been with someone overwhelmed by trials, tragedies or troubles who has struggled days or weeks to cope. And three times I’ve heard almost verbatim, this, “I think we’re passed the crisis. Once my heart was opened, I could see the way. When I couldn’t, God did [by the Spirit].” The Spirit, our Advocate. Family gathered ‘round the bedside of a treasured granny goin’ home. Each one wants to hold her hand. After prayers, one grown grandchild lifts her hand so another can take hold. She turns aside and whispers softly in my ear. “Pretty soon now it’ll be the Spirit that’ll take her hand. And he will take her home and see she’s never alone again.” The Spirit gives us power to do. So much so, folks would bring their sick to the paths the apostles padded. Why? Because their shadows would heal and make new! Power for holy purpose. Just weeks ago, here, more than two score of volunteers, over 500 hours of work and care, that for one full week, the homeless would have a home and we could count them friends! The Spirit teaches us what we need to know!

Oh, dear friends, stay tuned, tuned in faithful conversation. A thousand years before Jesus, Israel once sang, “You, O God, have tested us; tried us as silver is tried. You’ve brought us into the net. You’ve laid affliction on our loins and let men ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water. Yet You have brought us forth to a spacious place.” (66:10-12) And you thought we invented the blues! Many of us have felt tried like silver. And together, we’ve known about fire and water. But we can also say like the singer of the psalm (66), “Truly God has listened; he has given heed to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” And so we are connected and assured, facing our toughest assignments. Post Easter, we are empowered people: We don’t have to do it all. Christ has set our priorities for us. We don’t have to do it all alone; Jesus Risen has sent us help. What we don’t know, but need to, we’ll be taught. So stay tuned… by the Spirit!

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