Worship Service – April 4, 2021

Sunday April 4,2021

It’s Easter! And I welcome you today to open your Bibles and read with me from the gospel of Mark, Mark 16:1-8.

In keeping with our Lenten theme, our message today I’ve titled; ”Come and See ! Go and Tell ! Keep Moving Forward!”

Mark 16:1-8

The Resurrection

(1)When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. (2) Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb (3) and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”(4) But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. (5) As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.(6) “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. (7) But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ “
(8) Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

This is the word of God. For the people of God. Thanks be to God.

I read a great story about a six-year-old boy named David who was taking a walk one day with his grandmother. They decided to detour through the local graveyard. They stopped to read some of the tombstones and Grandma explained that the first date on the tombstones was the day the person was born and the second date was the day the person died.
“Why do some tombstones only have one date?” little David asked.
“Because those people haven’t died yet,” his grandmother explained.
David was obviously stunned by his grandmother’s explanation because, that night, he couldn’t stop talking about the excursion. “Mom,” he said with wide eyes, “did you know some of the people buried there in the cemetery aren’t even dead yet!”
We can laugh, because today we come to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The stone has been rolled away and Jesus is more alive than ever because not even death could hold Him.
None of the four gospels tells the whole story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We need to read all four to get the full picture. While all the gospels are important, probably each of us, has his or her favorite. I imagine that most of us like the resurrection accounts in Matthew or in John. Of course, the story in Luke has its moments too. Who can forget the two followers of Jesus meeting him, but not recognizing him, on the road to Emmaus. After recognizing him, and recalling the experience later, they described it like this: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road!” What a wonderful way of talking about our experience with Christ ,“the burning heart.” Probably that’s where the hymn writer got the inspiration for the words: “You ask me how I know he lives. He lives within my heart.”
In comparing the gospel accounts of the resurrection, though, probably most people like the story in Mark the least. It is the briefest and gives fewer details than the others. But the thing that makes us most uncomfortable, I imagine, is the abrupt ending. Many Biblical scholars believe that the original gospel of Mark ended with verse 8 of the 16th chapter. The rest was added later. It’s like something we may find written in an obituary.
I suppose that’s one reason I like the account in Mark. It ends with the words: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” And, just like that, it ends.
Some have called Mark, “the unfinished gospel”. It ends so abruptly, and it ends not with joy and celebration, but with amazement and fear. It’s unfinished. I guess that’s why I like it. Because it’s up to us now to finish it. Jesus has been raised from the dead. He has won the victory over sin and death. He has shown once and for all that this is God’s world, and God is in charge here. And all those things which are evident in the life of Jesus ; love, truth, and righteousness, are shown to be, not only needed, but also powerful. They are life changing. We see all of that in the resurrection.
Now, the question is: what are we going to do about it? How will we respond to it? As Mark tells the story, it’s unfinished. It’s left for us to finish the story by what we say and by what we do.
We need to take a moment this Easter to ask ourselves; What will others write in our obituary? Can people see something of Christ in me? Can they tell, by looking at my life, that something has happened to make me different? Can they tell that Christ’s invitation to, ”come and see”, has given me the desire to, ”go and tell” others what Easter is all about? Tell me, what is the rest of the story according to you?
Very often the emphasis placed on the resurrection, on Easter gets clouded by the emphasis placed on them secularly. Even children become somewhat confused over the meaning and importance.
In the cartoon THE FAMILY CIRCUS the two children have found their Easter baskets and are enjoying them. One asked, “Who colored all these eggs?” To which his sister replied, “the Easter bunny.” “Who gave us the jelly beans?” “The Easter bunny.” And the chocolate rabbit?” “The Easter bunny.” Obviously, there was nothing beyond the reach of the Easter bunny. The family attended Easter services and heard the preacher say, “They came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled back. Who could have done this?” To which the little boy jumped up in the pew and said, “The Easter bunny?”
Perhaps we can get a clue, as to how we can, “Keep Moving Forward “, by looking at what the disciples did in the other gospel accounts. How they responded to the invitations to, first, ”Come and See”, then second, ”Go and Tell”.
Let’s look first at the story in the gospel of Matthew. In that account, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb early in the morning on Sunday. They were not expecting a resurrection any more than any of Jesus’ other followers. They went to the tomb to finish wrapping the body of Jesus with spices, a job they didn’t have time to finish on Friday because the Sabbath was about to begin. They found that the stone sealing the tomb had been rolled away. The tomb was empty. And an angel announced, “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then, go quickly and tell his disciples.” The two Marys were invited to “come and see.” Once they saw, they went running to tell the story. There is an urgency about the gospel. There is an excitement about it. You don’t linger. You don’t stroll. You run to tell the good news of resurrection.
They went running from the tomb, their pulse racing, their wonder mounting. And while they were running, Jesus met them. And the first thing he said was, “Don’t be afraid!” What good news that is! Remember the Bible teaches us that the opposite of faith is not unbelief. The opposite of faith is fear. That’s why, again and again we are told in scripture: “Fear not…Let not your hearts be troubled….Don’t be anxious…Don’t be afraid.” The basic choice we have to make in life is: shall we live by fear or by faith? Because of the resurrection, Jesus says that we don’t have to be afraid, we don’t have to be afraid of anything.
I’m reminded of a story of, a town which put together its own Good Friday processional. The man chosen to portray Jesus was a burly truck driver. He was far from “meek and mild!” Still, he wore the clothing of Jesus, put the crown of thorns upon his head and dragged a rugged, wooden cross. Another man played the Roman centurion. He also got into his part. As the truck driver Jesus walked by, the centurion jeered him, mocked him, struck him and even spat in his face. This was more than the truck driver playing Jesus could stand! He turned to the man portraying the centurion and vowed angrily, “I’ll be back to deal with you after the Resurrection!”
God is in charge! God revealed himself in Jesus. He is loving and powerful. He is in charge. We are in His loving and powerful hands. So, we don’t have to be afraid. Ever! “Come and see”!
In the gospel of John, Mary Magdalene told Peter and the disciple Jesus loved that the tomb was empty. When they heard it, they, too, started running. They even raced each other . There is that urgency again. Running. They, too, were invited to “come and see.” That was a recurring theme in Jesus’ ministry. Whenever anyone questioned what he was doing or why he was doing it, he would always invite them to “come and see.” Jesus insisted, “By their fruits you will know them,” so, “come and see.”
That’s Jesus’ invitation to us as well. Do you believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead? Do you believe that Christ is with us now, as the risen and living and indwelling Lord? Do you believe that by living your life by faith in him your life will be ever so much better? Well, “come and see”. Try it out.
Thomas – you remember doubting Thomas. He said that he would not believe unless he could touch the nail prints in Jesus hands and feet. So, Jesus said, “Okay, have at it. Come and see.” There is nothing to hide. Ask your questions. Probe with your inquiring mind. Look everywhere there is to look. The more truth you find, the more God you find. God has nothing to fear from honest questioning. If you are like Thomas, at the end of all your searching you may recognize who he is. And then, like Thomas, you may be able to say, “My Lord, and my God”. You’ll will want to “Go and tell”.
Maybe we should be like the little boy named Jonathan, a gifted child, three years old. His parents took him to a restaurant.
The waitress came over and asked , “Jonathan, what would you like?”
He says, “I’ll have a grilled cheese sandwich.”
She says, “Jonathan, I’m sorry, we don’t serve grilled cheese sandwiches.”
He says, “You have a grill, don’t you?”
She says, “Yes.”
He says, “You have cheese, don’t you?”
She says, “Yes.”
He says, “You have bread, don’t you?”
She says, “Yes.”
He says, “Well, I’ll have a grilled cheese sandwich.”
The waitress says, “Jonathan, I’ll go and ask if the chef will fix you a grilled cheese sandwich.”
She comes back in a little while and says, “Okay, Jonathan, the chef agreed to fix you a grilled cheese sandwich. I forgot to ask you, though, what you want to drink.”
He says, “I’ll have a milkshake.”
She says, “Jonathan, your parents have probably already told you we don’t serve milkshakes.” She was ready for him this time. She says, “Now, it is true we have milk. And it is true we have ice cream. But we don’t have syrup.”
He says, “You have a car, don’t you?”
The two followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus recognized the risen Lord in another way. They walked together, they talked together, they studied the scriptures together – but in all of that they did not recognize him. Finally they recognized him “in the breaking of the bread.” They had shared many meals together. When he did that familiar thing, the breaking of the bread they said, “It is the Lord.” That is a invitation to us that today we meet him and recognize him as we remember Him in worship, especially in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus told us to break the bread and drink the wine “in remembrance of him.” So, we affirm that when we do that, in faith. Christ himself is present with us, giving us his gifts of love and forgiveness and guidance and strength.
Of all the ways of recognizing the risen Christ, I especially like the way Mary Magdalene recognized him. She met Jesus, there outside the tomb. But she was weeping, thinking that someone had stolen Jesus’ dead body, and she didn’t know where to find him. Thinking him to be the gardener, she asked for his help. Jesus called her by name, “Mary.” And that’s when she recognized him. It was a very personal, intimate moment, when he called her by her name.
It is always so when we hear our name called. When our name is called, it means that we are recognized as a distinctive, unique individual. We are not lost in the crowd. We are known by our names. And the good news is that every one of us is known by name. And, when we are open to it by faith, the risen Christ makes himself known to us as he calls us by our name. Listen. Do you hear it? He is singling you out. He is calling your name.
Let’s celebrate this Easter, as if we are on a spiritual pilgrimage. We,like the first century disciples, are running to the tomb. We expect to find that it is still empty. And what we hope for, more than anything else, is to experience the risen and living Christ, who will place joy in our hearts and a song on our lips. Because that’s what always happens when we meet and recognize the living Christ. That’s what always happens when Easter becomes real.
Whatever you have to do to make that happen in your life, do it. Accept the invitation to, “Come and see.” Run to meet him. Because, once you do, you will never again be the same.
As I said, those first century disciples responded to two invitations. The first was, “Come and see.” The second was, “Go and tell!” Well, if you do the first, you can’t help doing the second. Once you encounter the living Christ, you can’t keep still, you have to “Go and Tell”. You can’t be quiet, you have to tell.
Remember the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday? The people were shouting and celebrating, waving palm branches. The religious leaders, fearful that an unruly crowd would arouse the wrath of Rome, told Jesus to make his followers stop, to be quiet. Do you remember what Jesus said in response? He said, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out!”
You can’t keep the good news of Jesus bottled up. If you have met the risen Lord and recognized him, if you understand what God has done for us through his life, death, and resurrection, there comes to us such a joy, such an excitement, such enthusiasm that we just have to go and tell. And, if you can keep from telling that story, then that is evidence that you have no story to tell!
But if you believe what the gospel says is true, and believe with all your heart that it is, how can you keep from telling others?
Once we have come to see, we must go and tell. That’s how we, “Keep Moving Forward”. Do you understand, then, why I say I like the short version of Mark’s Easter story? It is an unfinished gospel. And it is our privilege to complete the story by the way we live .
Please pray with me. God, our Father, enable us this day to meet the risen Christ in the deep places of our lives. As we meet him there, take away our fear and replace it with faith. Complete the gospel story in our lives by the faithful way we live. And, in the presence of our risen and living Lord, help us to encourage others to, ”Come and See ! To Go and Tell ! To Keep Moving Forward!” In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20210404
Listen To Audio: Service 04042021



Pastor Joe is available at the church every Thursday from 2 to

4pm   If you wish to speak with him, his contact numbers are:

 570-465-7303 or his cell 570-267-4570 or E-Mail joe.s.travis@gmail.com.

No Office Hours April 15 and 22!


Sunday School starts at 8:30am with a study of the book of Galatians.  A good time to join us.

Loose change offering, (coins & bills),  goes to Local Mission

One Great Hour of Sharing ends today.   If you wish to donate please indicate on your envelope and make check payable to FHPC

Dr. Al Hickok will be bringing the message on April 15 and 22.

PW is putting gathering recipes for a church/community cookbook.   If you have a favorite recipe and would like to share it, it can be emailed to Bonne, or give it to her handwritten.

If you are in the parking lot, PLEASE TUNE YOUR RADIO TO 89.5 FM TO HEAR THE CHURCH SERVICE.

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that you wear a mask as you ENTER the church. Winter Months – Session discussed the procedures the congregation will follow during the winter months. People will enter and leave the Church by the front door. Mask must be worn as they enter and go to a pew. Mask must be worn when they leave the Church. Pastor Joe will stand near the pulpit when the service is finished to speak to people before they leave. He will not stand by the front door. Session is asking that people do not congregate in the vestibule or loiter for a long time in the sanctuary when they leave. Hand sanitizer is located by the front door for your use.



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