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Christ Is Risen!

John 20:11-18

A Russian communist lecturer concluded, "Therefore, there is no God; Jesus Christ never existed;
there is no such thing as a Holy Spirit.
The church is an oppressive institution, and anyway it's out of date.
The future belongs to the State, and the State is in the hands of the Party

He was about to sit down when an old Russian Orthodox priest stood up,
"May I say two words?" he asked.

The lecturer thought, "What can he say in two words?"
So, in exasperation, he gave the priest permission.

The old man looked out over the crowd and shouted two words (it's three in English), "Christ is risen!"
Back came the roar of the crowd, "Christ is risen, indeed!"

Christ is risen indeed!
Let's celebrate the resurrection.
Today, let's celebrate, using the ancient greeting.
When Christians met one another, they greeted one another with "Christ is risen!"
and the response, "Christ is risen indeed!"

That would be a good practice for us today.

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

"Because I live, you will live also," said Jesus.
There is nothing that can defeat you.
On Easter, death and the devil was defeated.

They thought they were done with Jesus.
They hung Him on a cross, they put His body in a cave, they rolled a three-ton stone across the entrance. But, God had the last word.
When the women came at dawn on Sunday morning to anoint his body with spices,
the stone was rolled aside, the cave was empty.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

There in the garden, Mary wept tears, then she saw the one she thought was the gardener.
Then,she saw the Lord.
"I have seen the Lord!" she shouted.

Look around, the risen Christ is everywhere.
With eyes of faith, you can see him.

A young mother of five children became desperate because of health and financial problems,
and decided that life was not worth the struggle.
She took her youngest child, a preschool age girl, into the bedroom, turned on the gas heater without lighting it,
and lay down on the bed with her arm around her small daughter.
She listened to the gas escaping, and became aware of another sound, the radio was on in the next room.
For some reason, it seemed important to get up and turn it off.

When she went into the room, she heard the hymn,
"O, what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer

In that moment, she realized the mistake she was making.
She rushed back into the bedroom, turned off the gas, opened the windows, picked up the little girl
and held her tightly.
She said later, "I began to pray. I did not pray for help.
I prayed a prayer of gratitude to God for opening my eyes

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

A pastor's telephone rang and it was one of the oldest and most faithful members of the congregation, named Martha.
She was known as Aunt Martie to all the children.
She showered love wherever she went.

She said, "Preacher, could you stop by this afternoon? I need to talk with you."

As they sat in her small living room, Martha shared the news that her doctor had just discovered a tumor.
"He says I probably have six months to live".

"I'm so sorry ..." but before the pastor could finish, Martha interrupted.

"Don't be. The Lord has been good. I have lived a long life.
I'm ready to go. You know that

"I know," the pastor whispered with a reassuring nod.

"But I do want to talk with you about my funeral."

The two talked quietly for a long time.
They talked about Martha's favorite hymns, the passages of Scripture that had meant so much to her
through the years, and the many memories they shared.
When it seemed that they had covered just about everything, Aunt Martie paused, looked up at her pastor
with a twinkle in her eye, and then added, "One more thing, preacher. When they bury me,
I want my old Bible in one hand and a fork in the other

"A fork?"

The pastor was sure that he had heard everything, but this caught him by surprise.
"Why do you want to be buried with a fork?"

"I have been thinking about all of the church dinners and banquets that I attended through the years.
I couldn't begin to count them all.

But one thing sticks in my mind.
At those really nice get-togethers, when the meal was almost finished, a server or maybe the hostess
would come by to collect the dirty dishes.

I can hear the words now. Somebody would lean over my shoulder and whisper, 'You can keep your fork

And do you know what that meant?
Dessert was coming!
It didn't mean a cup of Jell-O or pudding or even a dish of ice cream.
You don't need a fork for that.
It meant the good stuff, like chocolate cake or cherry pie!

When they told me I could keep my fork, I knew the best was yet to come!

That's exactly what I want people to talk about at my funeral.
Oh, they can talk about all the good times we had together.
That would be nice.

But when they walk by my casket and look at my pretty blue dress,
I want them to turn to one another and say, 'Why the fork'?

That's when I want you to say, I want you to tell them, that I kept my fork
because the "The best is yet to come

The best is yet to come!
Because He lives, we live.
One day we go home all because of Jesus.
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!

-- Sermon adapted