St. Matthew’s Sermon Easter 2017

What a Ride

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

As a child, I never was a big fan of heights and I’m still not to this day. I wasn’t good with high speeds either unlessI was in control of the brakes and throttle. Needless to say, roller coasters weren’t my first choice at the amusement parks.

But, of course, having two older sisters to taunt me on, I soon found myself on… a roller coaster. “Try it!” they said. “It’s Fun!” they said. And there I was, white knuckles and white face the whole way! And that was just on the kiddy-sized “Wild Mouse” that reached a height of about 20 feet, lasted about a minute, and reached top speeds of, maybe, 35 miles-per-hour.

As I grew older it never got easier; the challenges just got bigger. Now, with peers to egg me on, it became about; who could climb higher into a tree, who would jump from the highest point of the cliff into the swimming hole or, when the amusement parks got bigger, who would ride the “Super Duper Looper”. And, of course, the stakes were higher too now that the girl by my side that I was trying to impress was NOT my sister; my success at boldly facing the challenge before me was all the more imperative.

It really never did get easier, but as I matured, I realized a great sense of satisfaction and liberation each time I conquered a new fear. And, this new-found strength had nothing to do with impressing anyone else; it was something indefinable; something felt deep within myself, for myself, by myself.

In my own mind, perhaps you’ve felt it too, I am often drawn into the rollercoaster metaphor during Holy Week. We spend the year with our Lord Jesus. We see him being Baptized by John and then wander into the desert to fast and be tempted; climbing higher.

We see him begin his ministry and gather his Disciples; climbing higher.

We witness him healing the sick, casting out demons, even raising people from death; climbing higher, higher!

We hear him facing off with the Scribes and Pharisees, silencing their every argument; climbing higher, higher!

Then we both watch and participate in his glorious ride into Jerusalem with all the people shouting Hosannas; climbing higher, higher, and higher!  

And, all of a sudden, just when we think there’s no stopping him now; no stopping us now, we find ourselves crashing down the other side, screaming as we accelerate faster and faster straight toward the ground below as our Lord is betrayed, arrested, convicted, and executed in the most horrible way!

This is it; this is the end of him andof us, we’re certain of this; just seconds before we meet our doom and… swoosh, we’re on our way back up again as we find the tomb empty and see him alive, face to face!

Can you feel it?! Do you feel that indefinable something deep within yourself?! Do you feel the conquering of fear?! Do you feel the victory?!


It’s a part of the message; a very important part. Mary and Mary went to the tomb; painful enough, scary enough. Then, as the Angel rolls the stone away the earth shakes and even the tough guards are so overwhelmed with the sights and sounds they pass out cold. But the women; the women stand in spite of their fear and they look and listen! Then, following the Angels instructions they run “with fear – and – great – joy” to tell the Disciples.


The fear is still there, even the words of the Angel saying “Do not be afraid” hasn’t taken that away. But the dread and sadness have turned to great joy with the words “He is not here; for he has been raised”!

With that seemingly incompatible mix of “fear and great joy” the women run to do as they’re told and, the risen Lord himself meets them on the way reiterating the command to go and tell!

The message is clear; it might become a rollercoaster ride but go and do likewise; expect to be greeted on the way by the risen Lord himself; and to feel that special something inside you. Amen.


Matthew 28:1-10
28:1 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
28:2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
28:3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
28:4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
28:5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
28:6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
28:7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”
28:8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
28:9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
28:10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”


Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
118:1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
118:2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
118:14 The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
118:15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly;
118:16 the right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.”
118:17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.
118:18 The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.
118:19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.
118:20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.
118:21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
118:23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
118:24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:1-4
3:1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,
3:3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
3:4 When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.