What wonderful news this story is!
After all the painful emotions of the Passion Week
After the fear of Thursday night and Jesus' arrest
After the horror of Friday at the foot of the cross
After the despair of Saturday when Jesus lay in the tomb
He is Risen!
The tomb is empty.
Death has been defeated
A new creation has begun!
In the church we try to recreate the emotions of that time by commemorating the suffering of our Lord
We preach penitence during the 40 days of Lent
We observe solemn rituals on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday
to remind us of the pain Jesus suffered for us
and of the anguish his disciples must have felt
We do all of that so that when Easter morning comes
we can sense again the joy and wonder and awe of that incredible morning
when the tomb was found empty and Mary was startled to realize
that he was standing behind her calling her name
So that we can be once again freshly amazed at the moment when the Lord spoke to her saying
"Go and tell my brothers"
Wait a minute!
Go and tell?
All four of the gospels include words to this effect.
The angel must say to the women "go and tell"
Jesus must say to Mary "go and tell"
But why? I mean why on earth must they be told to spread the word?
Why aren't they shouting it from the rooftops!
Why aren't they running to tell each other the good news?
Why must they be told to go and tell?
Why must the General Assembly call on all Presbyterian churches to make a "Commitment to Evangelism"?
Why isn't that automatic?
Why aren't we all eagerly telling everyone we know that God has saved us,
that death has lost its sting,
that Jesus is risen and is alive and that because he lives,
the gates of heaven have been thrown wide so that all of us may enter!
Why aren't we shouting about it?
Instead, most Christians act like the resurrection is supposed to be a secret!
The church has to beg its members to make a commitment to evangelism and preachers, week after week,
say again and again,
"Go and tell!"
Bring your neighbor, share the news!
I know you have met people, maybe even invited them to church,
people who tell you that they believe in God and consider themselves Christian,
but they figure their faith is a private matter between them and God,
nobody else's business.
They can't think of any reason why they should join a church,
and in every church there are people who say that evangelism just isn't their thing,
they feel awkward about telling other people what they ought to do,
they feel "funny" talking about their relationship with God.
After all one's relationship with God is so personal.
The conventional wisdom at seminary is that all this emphasis on private piety
is a late development in Christianity.
They taught me that this private, personal, almost secret kind of relationship with God grew out of the "pietistic" movement of the nineteenth century.
But I think they might be wrong about that.
Maybe a tendency to keep your feelings about God to yourself is as old as time.
Maybe the original disciples themselves had a touch of it and maybe that's why
Jesus had to tell them to spread the word,
to Go and tell.
Maybe this is one of the great temptations all human beings face, the temptation to keep it to yourself,
the temptation to make your religion private, the temptation to be selfish about your relationship with God.
Yep, I said selfish.
I’m suggesting that maybe you and I are being selfish.
Maybe all of us, at least some of the time, want to think that our relationship with God is unique & special.
Maybe all of us want to be our heavenly Father's favorite child.
God always liked me best.
We have a special bond that you wouldn't understand.
"I go to the garden alone . . . and he walks with me and he talks with me".
And he tells me I am his own, and the joy we share as I tarry there,
NONE OTHER HAS EVER KNOWN.
Too bad you have never experienced that.
But don't expect me to invite you to come to the Garden with me!
I’ll pray for you, but don’t expect me to pray with you!
Prayer is private.
One’s relationship with God is so personal, I wouldn't want to intrude on yours
by telling you what I know about God.
I wouldn't want to interfere with your private prayers by praying aloud with you.
(Actually, I don't want you interfering with my private relationship with God)
(I don't want to share the news)
(I don't want to share God)
Is that it? Is that why we have to be told over and over again to Go and tell?
Is that why the greatest news ever gets treated like the biggest secret?
Are we being selfish and trying to keep God all to ourselves?
Do we really think that Jesus suffered on that cross just for me?
Do I really think that God so loved Me . . . and that the rest of the world can literally go to hell?
Do I really think that's okay with God?
All four gospels include these instructions:
Go and tell,
Go and preach,
Go and make disciples.
That must have been important to Jesus, of paramount importance.
Jesus certainly impressed those instructions on all of his disciples.
After all, what was the point of all that suffering?
What was the point of the resurrection?
What good is a resurrection if no one knows about it?
What benefit will the world get from it, if they are never told that salvation has been won
and that death has been defeated, and Jesus Christ is risen.
How would we know the joy of Easter if the disciples had kept it to themselves?
Sharing our excitement about what God has done for the world doesn’t have to be
It’s not a matter of asking are you saved?
It’s just shouting aloud that something has made a wonderful difference in our lives.
It’s proclaiming that you know you are saved and that that salvation is available to everyone!
You have no trouble telling your neighbors when you have found a new restaurant worth trying,
or when you have found a new diet, or doctor, or movie.
No one needs to say “go and tell” about these ordinary everyday things.
Surely, we can share our discovery of something this important.
He is Risen!
Death has been defeated!
And the gates of heaven are open to all who believe in him!
Go and Tell!
"GO AND TELL"
Last Week's Sermon
REV. CLARE KELLEY