Has Easter Really Changed Your World?

Luke 24:1-12

First Baptist Church Laurens

March 31, 2013

On a hot summer’s day in Philadelphia, on July 4th o 1776, something happened that at the time didn’t seem all that significant to the rest of the world.  But, what happened that day was something that would ultimately change the way that much of society would view government and its role.  That day, men from across the thirteen American colonies signed their names to a document announcing their independence and freedom.  Primarily what they said is that they desired to make their own laws and to choose their own ruler.  Rather than having a king or sovereign figure imposed on them, they felt that people should be governed by a leader of their own choosing and that day, they were announcing their desire to do just that.  That day, our world changed and there are tangible signs of the change brought by that day that we still bump up against every day that we live.

On a clear, crisp autumn day in September of 2001, the world was also changed. That day, American airlines were hijacked by terrorists and used as weapons of war against our own citizens.  The twin towers of the World Trade Center fell when both were hit by airplanes, the Pentagon was damaged by a third plane and yet another plane fell in the countryside of Pennsylvania falling far short of its intended target yet killing all of those on board.  We all remember where we were on that day and our world changed as a result of September 11th.  Now, the term terrorism means something quite different to all of us.  It is not simply something that takes place in the Middle East or somewhere else in a far corner of the globe – we know that it can happen here.  Now, going to the airport or getting on an airplane looks nothing like it did prior to September of the year 2001.  That day, our world changed and there are tangible signs of the change brought by that day that we still bump up against every day that we live.

There are also much more subtle days that change our world but whose impact are in some ways just as profound and clearly felt.  That was the case with what happened on April 3, 2010.  I suspect that if you looked at the outline for the morning’s sermon in your order of worship and you noticed July 4, 1776, September 11, 2001 and April 3, 2010, it was the last of the three that you had to scratch your head in regard to.  Without a doubt, it is not a date that holds anywhere near the significance as the other two – in fact, it really isn’t a significant date at all, but, it is a day that changed our world.  What happened that day?  This little device was introduced to the world on April 3, 2010, the iPad.  On that day, the world of technology and the internet, became more portable, accessible and ever present than at any time before.  On that day new words entered our vocabulary like the terms app or podcast, and old words like tablet took on a new meaning altogether.  The iPad and other tablets like it have revolutionized technology in our world.  Today, doctors, police officers, bankers, ministers and even kindergarteners use ipads on a daily basis.  Tablets now far outpace regular computers in sales.  And, bookstores, the US Mail and newspapers in the driveway, may never be as they once were and this little device has much to do with those changes.  That day, April 3, 2010, really did change our world and there are tangible signs of the change brought by that day that we still bump up against every day that we live.

While we could all add our own thoughts about the days that have changed the world – from the invention of the car, to Pearl Harbor Day to the Protestant Reformation – there is no argument that there is one day that changed our world more than any other.  It is the day that we are all here today to celebrate.  It is the day of Jesus’ Resurrection or the very first Easter.  It is the day that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and other women with them found the empty tomb according to Luke and the other gospel writers.  And, it is the day that these women, became pioneers for the rest of the world as the first bearers of the good news, a term we now refer to as the gospel, as they shared what they had seen with the disciples and then with the others.  Jesus was alive – he had overcome death just as he had promised that he would.

That day – though we don’t know the exact date or the exact time – that day, changed the world like no other.  People, movements, events, social and political decisions and vast amounts or world resources have all been shaped by this day. Today, 2.1 billion people profess to be followers of Christ because of this day.  Today, decisions are made at every moment of every hour that are influenced by this event.  Like no other day, this one changed our world forever.

One cannot debate how this day has changed the world, world history and the people of the world, but, the question for today is really the question of how this day has changed each of us who are in this room.  I mean this in relation to the question of have we embraced Christ as our Lord and this day as life altering for us as individuals.  But, just as importantly, I mean this in light of how we live.  Beyond our confessions that we are believers, beyond our membership in a church, beyond the rhetoric of our words, how has this day really changed us?  How are our lives different as a result of this day?

Tomorrow, we will act differently because of this day?  Will we treat our neighbor as ourselves?  Will our care for our spouse and our children be shaped by the teachings of Jesus? Will our priorities for the day be different?  Will the way that we use our resources be effected?  Will our primary commitments and our outlook on life and the world be colored by this day?  Or, do our lives, as they are lived on a daily basis fail to give any impression that this day has changed very much in our personal world?  Is there any real, tangible difference between our life and that of any one else because of today?  Beyond our words or our claims, is there really any sense that this is the day that changed it all for us?

Today, I hope that we all hear this in a positive light. This question of the significance of the Easter events for our lives is not a way to make us all feel miserable, lowly or like failures.  For the call of Easter is a call to embrace the joy, hope and the real direction that this day offers to our lives as we allow it to shape who we are.  Embracing Christ as the Risen Lord, calls us to embrace his wisdom for how we are to treat our neighbors.  Embracing Christ as the Risen Lord each day calls us to grab hold of his guidance for being a good spouse or parent.  Embracing Christ as the Risen Lord, call us to become a part of his church where we can love and be loved, serve and be served and where we can be supported through the good days and the bad days. When we embrace Christ as the Risen Lord each day, we place our trust in a savior who delivers us from our deepest failures, walks with us through our greatest fears and offers us the most profound hope that the world has to offer.  Embracing Easter must change our world and our ways but make no mistake the change is for the better.

And so, the question shifts from how has this day changed our world to the question of how should this day change our world going forward and what do each of need of us here today need to do to begin or renew our commitment to this day?

Back in 2011, a British historian named Hywel Williams wrote a book called Days that Changed the World: The 50 Defining Moments of World History.  Just as the title suggests, Williams chose 50 events and shared how and why they forever changed the world.  What is significant is that William’s chose Christ’s crucifixion as one of the days that are explored in his work.  What he doesn’t choose is Christ’s resurrection or Easter.  The death of Christ – or Good Friday is without a doubt critical to our faith and to our understanding of Jesus.  But, without Easter, Good Friday is just a day.  The truth is that it is the fact that Christ is alive, risen and Lord that changes it all.   It is Easter Sunday that is the day that changed the world.  How has it and how should it change our worlds?  Amen.