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Crucifixion Happens – Easter Sermon

I would like to start today quoting a Facebook post from Apostle Art Smith:

It’s Easter and in some places it’s also recognized as Trans Day of Visibility. 

May the dehumanizing “othering” of real live people, be it through marginalization of even murder receive the resounding NO of resurrection. Today God insists on the full humanity of those the world has tried to get rid of. They’re real! They’re here! Their bodies and souls are whole and deserving of dignity and respect. It’s a death defying message appropriate for both days.

The resounding NO of resurrection – God insists on the full humanity. 

As we look back to the season of Advent, we remember the anticipation of Christ’s coming, the promises of joy, hope, love, and peace. It is in these promises that our journey began back in January.

Yet, the road to resurrection was not without its trials. In the season of Lent, we followed Jesus into the desert, where he fasted and prayed for forty days. In the barren wilderness, he faced temptation and wrestled with the forces of darkness. It is in this desert experience that we see the depth of Jesus’ humanity and the strength of his faith.

This year Lent seemed especially challenging for us and the barrenness of the wilderness we faced was acute.  It felt like it took a lot of energy to get through Feb and March.

As Jesus emerged from the desert, he embarked on the final leg of his earthly ministry, culminating in the events of Holy Week. Palm Sunday was his time to ride triumphantly into Jerusalem.  On the night before his crucifixion, he shared a final meal with his disciples, breaking bread and offering wine as symbols of his body and blood.

Last Thursday many gathered here to reflect and symbolically celebrate that last supper.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed fervently, his soul anguished by the weight of what lay ahead. And yet, he submitted to the will of the Father, surrendering himself to the hands of his captors.

As Jesus was led to Calvary, we see the figures of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, standing at the foot of the cross, their hearts heavy with grief yet steadfast in their love. Alongside them stood Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, men of influence who risked their reputations to honor Jesus in his death.

And as Jesus breathed his last breath, the earth trembled, and darkness fell upon the land.  Even the earth responded to that terrible occasion.

Crucifixion happens and it happened to Jesus.  This form of capital punishment did not start with Rome but it was used there frequently to punish slaves, serious criminals, and traitors.  It was the form of death chosen for Jesus by his captors.

But even in death, Jesus’ love shone brightly.

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea tenderly laid his body in a borrowed tomb.  Nicodemus had brought the aloes and herbs, and Jesus body was laid to rest in the tomb.  It is said a large stone was placed over the entry to close the tomb.

Resurrection and New Hope (3 minutes):

Yet, the story does not end there. On the third day, the Mary Magdalene who had come to anoint Jesus’ body found the tomb empty, with angels standing where Jesus had been laid. “He is not here; he has risen!” they declared, echoing the promise of new life and hope.

Jesus met Mary, the Apostles, other disciples, went back to meet Thomas, met Paul and eventually ascended into heaven.

Today, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, the triumph of light over darkness, and the victory of love over death. In Jesus’ resurrection, we find hope for our own lives, knowing that death has been defeated and that we, too, will rise with him.

The model of Christianity can provide us with a cycle similar to that illustrated by our seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  Life begins anew and flourishes in the warmth of the sun.  Then there is a cooling down until all goes dormant. 

We see changes in our spiritual lives – seasons, holidays, and observations that can bring new growth and life.  Then there are losses – some surprising and some expected that open the chambers of grief where we need to process the changes or losses.  The teaching of resurrection also teaches that we can emerge from our grief allowing us to find fondness, cherished memories, and new hope.

As we leave this sanctuary today, may we carry the message of Easter in our hearts. Let us embrace the journey of crucifixion, knowing that it leads to the joy of resurrection and the promise of new life. May we live each day in the light of Christ’s love, sharing the hope, joy, and peace that he brings to the world.

I would like to close with Doctrine and Covenants Section 165: 6 a-c

a. Beloved Community of Christ, do not just speak and sing of Zion. Live, love, and share as Zion: those who strive to be visibly one in Christ, among whom there are no poor or oppressed.
b. As Christ’s body, lovingly and patiently bear the weight of criticism from those who hesitate to respond to the divine vision of human worth and equality in Christ. This burden and blessing is yours for divine purposes.
c. And, always remember, the way of suffering love that leads to the cross also leads to resurrection and everlasting life in Christ’s eternal community of oneness and peace. Trust in this promise.

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