Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“Go and Say”
Every year, the Easter season reminds me of my first experience with an Easter service in the U.S.A. Five young adult members and I began a new church planting in Chicago, IL, in 2008. The first Easter came, but we had no pastor and no building for Easter service. We decided to join the Easter service of Central United Methodist Church in Chicago, IL. Six Korean young adults, as strangers, joined the Easter service of the American congregation. We were all strangers, not knowing anyone and not familiar with that church’s rite. We felt in despair, wondering why we became strangers on Easter Sunday.
However, the congregation welcomed us and invited us to the fellowship after service. They gave each of us a small plant (a spider plant) as an Easter gift, saying, “It is good to share life on Easter. We hope it can be a sign of hope for your church as you are planting a new church.” It was so impressive for us to share plants on Easter as a sign of life and hope. I learned the mystery of life and hope through the plant. It was enough for us to go forth with the new church planting. That good impression of them led us to request the use of their church building for our new church. Three weeks later, they allowed us to use the church building officially for our new church. We could have our installment service of our new church in their church build in August of that same year. The Korean church was growing every year, and finally, last year, the church was chartered in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.
What do you think about on Easter Sunday? What do you experience on Easter? Some of you might remember sunrise Easter services followed by fellowship. Some of you remember beautiful lilies and decorations on the altar and wonderful choir songs. Some of you might think that every year Easter is the same. A few years ago, I overheard one of the individuals who joined the united service with other churches in the district on Easter Sunday say, “the service was good, but the sermon was just the same old Easter crap.”
Every Easter sermon has the same theme, “Christ is Risen.” Perhaps, you might hear the same theme’s sermons every Easter Sunday. However, if you feel that way, think about why the good news of Christ’s resurrection is not enough for you. Chris’s resurrection is more than enough for all Christians. The reason we keep our faith in God is that our Lord Jesus Christ has risen. Christ’s resurrection is an assurance that Jesus taught us and promised us. Furthermore, it can be an assurance of God’s love. Because of his resurrection, we have hope for eternal life. Because of his resurrection, we have hope for our home, church, nation, and the world even though we still hear chaotic news every morning.
More than 2000 years ago, Mary Magdalene was an outcast of society, a woman with physical and emotional illness. She had no friends or family who were with her. However, she was the first person who met risen Christ. Jesus asked her to go and tell his disciples about his resurrection. The disciples went to the tomb along with Mary Magdalene and checked the empty tomb. They returned their home. That’s it. I am curious about how the disciples could return their home after checking the empty tomb. After Jesus died on the cross, and after they checked his empty tomb, the disciples returned their home, their jobs, and their people. Even though they stayed with Jesus for three years, and learned about his death and resurrection, they perhaps forgot what they learned about. And they scattered as soon as Jesus died. However, Mary Magdalene had no place, family, job, or home to return to because Jesus was the only friend, teacher, comforter, and healer she had. With the death of Jesus she lost everything. She was slumped over in despair. She couldn’t leave without finding Jesus and wept at the tomb. Finally, Jesus showed himself to her and said, “Mary, why are you crying? Go and say, I am resurrected.”
On Easter morning, as soon as Mary found him, she found hope amid despair, and Jesus sent her to “God and say.” No wonder Mary Magdalene wanted to hang in there with Jesus, worrying he might disappear again. But she had to go. We know that the way she went without holding Jesus Christ is to go with risen Christ. The risen Christ is with her and with us who go forth to spread his mission. This morning, we are in the presence of Christ, who is sending us to “Go and say.” What would you hold on to? You may want to hang in there. But, it is time to go and say?
Be very clear. Resurrection is not mere resurrection. Breath did not just suddenly start back up in the old, beaten-up body of Jesus. His old body could never support the new life. Resurrection is a new creation of a new life. Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, will never die again. He is no longer merely Jesus, but the living God. He lives. He will never die again. Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection, which means we do so as long as we believe in him. The risen Christ is there with us beyond time and space. When we worship together, there is the power of the resurrected Christ among us. The church is the fellowship of the resurrection. We are connected to the resurrected Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are the household of God; we are sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ.
Today, even though we could not have an in-person service, we are connected in Jesus Christ. Easter morning, we will have an infant baptism and new members in our parish. It is great news, which Easter brings us. No wonder the risen Christ is here with us. The risen Christ is with the baby, who is baptized today, and with the new members who decided their faith journey with us. We act together, and we are saved together. The resurrected Christ is among us. No wonder we are told to “Go and say!” We are expected to tell the good news of Jesus Christ. No matter what, if you were slumped in despair, go and say to people who are slumped in despair as you were. No matter what, if you had experienced any addiction, go and say to those who are experiencing addiction as you had. No matter what, if you had experienced any illness, go and say to those who are experiencing an illness. Go and say, “Christ has risen for you.” Any happening never comes to you without reason. But, remember, God loves you so much, whether you are in trouble or full of joy. As long as you go for God’s mission, the risen Christ is with you. Perhaps, the place or the people bring you the good news, rather than bringing them the good news. Remember, Jesus died for you and was resurrected for you! Thanks be to God. Amen.