Sermon Details

Don’t Hang – Go Live

April 9, 2023
Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church in Crawfordsville, IN invites you to join us every week for Sunday morning worship. Today's Easter Sunday service will be led by Pastor John Van Nuys and Liturgist Erin Yeager. Pastor John's sermon title is "Don't Hang - Go Live". Hymns and Anthem will be performed by the WAPC Choir directed by Jennie Fights. Accompaniment, prelude and postlude will be performed by Alan White and Jim Heinzman. Thank you for joining us remotely.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away… She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said, “Why are you weeping? Who do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said, “Mary!” She turned and said to him, “Teacher!” Jesus said, “Don’t hold on to me, because I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them all that he had said.

Don’t hang on. Go and tell.

Don’t you just hate that?

Just when you thought Easter was all about private happiness, individual immortality, and happy endings – Jesus arises and arrives and says: Don’t hang on to me and my victory because I want
you to go and live yours.

When Mary Magdalene realizes it’s Jesus – when she realizes it’s Easter – she rushes to embrace the Lord. But Jesus stops her: “Don’t hang on.”

Like Mary, I want to bearhug Jesus. But my motives aren’t as pure as hers. Yes, I love the Lord, but my embrace of him isn’t just to welcome him, but also to pin him down: Don’t go. Stay. With me. Right here, right now – and forever.

I want to hang onto Jesus because I want to control Jesus – so that my moment of private happiness doesn’t end. Then I can make Jesus’ victory work for me. I can make Easter effortless and endlessly mine. I’ve got no job and all joy.

But joy is only half of Easter. Yes, Easter is joy – but it’s also our job. Easter is not just a celebration; Easter is our calling: Don’t hang on. Go and tell.

Good Friday told us: Jesus is a loser. He’s an imposter. He’s wrong. He’s dead.

Easter tells us – and we’re to tell others: Jesus isn’t a fool who died, but a Savior who lives. He’s not a false prophet, who got what HE deserved. He’s the True God, who got what WE deserved – so we could be forever free.

While that freedom is ours, that freedom isn’t private. Easter is not about me getting MY free pass to go to heaven when I die. Easter is about me and you and all of us joining hands with Christ in our living today in the job – and joy – of incarnating Easter; of extending Easter; of bringing heaven here – so that “thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Easter’s not a happy ending; it’s a new beginning. Easter is about Jesus rising and God’s kingdom coming and us becoming fully alive – by grace with Christ in love.

We can’t hold onto Easter like it’s our own, private secret. We’ve got to share the good news so that no one is left out – on the cross or in the tomb. Easter is about graves opening and injustice ending and hope arising. Easter is about freedom so that everyone is loved; everyone is forgiven; everyone is fed; everyone is included; everyone is blessed – because Easter is about life for us all.

Gang, we’ve got to throw away our to-do lists – not because there isn’t laundry to do or chores to be done, but because our to-do lists are too narrowly focused on us. Their purpose is too pinched. They lead us in a “life” that’s too limited. If we follow them, we exist only to serve our ego. We are forever enslaved to the false idol of “me, myself, and I.”

Thank God, we do not have to “live” that way. Easter means we’re fee. Free from fear – of death – and everything else. Free from the tyranny of our ego; liberated for a life of love with our Lord. We are free to breathe easier and set our sights higher and open our arms wider. Giving ourselves to anything less than love is absolutely foolish when you know that Jesus Christ is risen today. Easter means Love wins. And that victory is ours when we choose to live in love as well.

So, let’s follow Christ by following Mary Magdalene by letting go and moving on and telling, sharing, and including everyone in Easter joy. Do that and you’ll get it. You’ll get Easter because you will be giving it away. As you do, Mary Magdalene’s past moment with Jesus will become your present life with Christ now – and forever. Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Amen!

In reading this, your heart may be stirred. What you’re feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you to Christ. To begin or renew a relationship with Jesus, just pray:

“Lord, help me receive your love. I regret the wrong I’ve done. Forgive me. Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Be my Savior. Save me from myself. Save me for yourself. Enter my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to serve you faithfully and well. Help me to love as you love. Lead me in your Way, Truth, and Life now and forever. Continue to show me who you are and who I am in you. Amen.”

If you pray this prayer, contact a pastor. They’ll show you how to live for Christ with purpose, peace, and joy. Jesus says: “Behold, I make all things new.” That definitely includes YOU!