Sermon Details

Shall We Dance?

April 12, 2020
Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church invites you to view our virtual Easter Service featuring soloists Sammy Amidon singing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" and Jennifer Fights Swick singing "Thine is the Glory". Pastor John Van Nuys sermon for Easter is "Shall We Dance?" The Scripture for today is Jeremiah 31:1-6. Join us in celebrating this Easter. Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia.
(1) At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. (2) Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, (3) the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (4) Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. (5) Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. (6) For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.”
– Jeremiah 31:1-6

It was one of the largest lockdowns in history. For 76 days, in Wuhan, China streets were empty; shops were closed; people were trapped at home, terrified. During that time, death had the upper hand. But that day is done.

On April 8, Wuhan’s quarantine was lifted. As the city clock chimed midnight, thousands cheered, danced, and released balloons. Drivers honked; streets filled; shops reopened. Instantly everything changed.

That day is coming for us.. Things look bleak. But they will get better – as we all do what we are supposed to do to make it so.
While this experience for us is new, people of faith have been in this moment before: Living under siege; having the worst happen; adapting to life on an alien terrain; undertaking extreme measures; and finally being saved by God.

Judah was besieged by Babylon; Jerusalem fell; and the Jewish people went into exile. On Babylon’s alien terrain, they had to adapt by taking extreme measures, which were given by God through the prophet Jeremiah: Build houses, get married, have children, work hard, and bless Babylon – for as it prospers, you will prosper (Jeremiah 29:4-7). In other words, don’t despair. Invest yourself in life and flourish because God will deliver you.

In fact, says God through Jeremiah: Here’s what that deliverance will look like: I’ll bring you home. My love will prevail. You, who are captive now, will celebrate. You, who weep and worry now, will dance with tambourines in middle of the street. In fact, you’re gonna dance all the way home to Jerusalem, which I’ll help you rebuild. And I’ll also rebuild you. You’ll stand tall on that day when all is made right again.

Translation: That freedom that Wuhan is celebrating now? We’ll also celebrate that liberation. God will lead us out of death and into life. You, who are afraid now, will be filled with relief. You’ll dance in the street, hug neighbors, and shout to the sky: By God, we made it! We are alive thanks to the goodness of Almighty God!
Of course, the biggest celebration will come when a vaccine is found and we’re all inoculated against the coronavirus. It will no longer hurt anyone because we will have within us the cure, which will forever banish the threat of COVID-19 from humanity and history. Its power and threat will be broken and removed. Forever.

Essentially, that’s why we celebrate Easter. Only we are celebrating a cure for something far worse than COVID-19. Easter tells us that the ultimate Cure is here, inoculating us with the vaccine that saves us from death. Easter celebrates death’s defeat by Christ’s righteous life, sacrificial death, and joyous resurrection. Death no longer annihilates anyone because God has provided the Cure by which we all shall live. Death’s reign and power are banished because Jesus Christ is risen today.

The Cure is here. Christ’s righteousness inoculates us against condemnation. Christ’s offering of his body on the cross provides the anti-bodies that save us: His good life, transfused into our sin-sick souls, provides the Way for us to live. His resurrection infuses our mortal lives with his eternal life so that we shall forever alive in him.
Whatever comes, we are good – because he is good. Whatever befalls us, we shall be made whole through his wholeness, life, and love.

Now that’s something to celebrate. We need not fear tomorrow – because God is already there. God will make a way for us. God will get us through this present trial. So, have faith. Keep doing what you’re supposed to do, trusting that a cure will be found. Remember that you belong to the ultimate Cure, whose Way, Truth, and Life is unstoppable, irresistible, and inevitable. Christ lives and you shall, too. So, put on your dancing shoes. Pick up a tambourine. Lift up your eyes – and your hopes. God is coming to save us. God is saving us now. And God is not gonna stop until we all stand in the glad dawning of our Savior’s Easter light, which shall rise upon us all.

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!