The Ultimate Boo-Yah!

It is the ultimate boo-yah! Celebrating Good Friday and Easter on the same day.

The phrase made popular by ESPN illustrates the fanaticism of sports fans, who agonize over their team at one moment before celebrating it at the next.

Today is April 18, 2014, Good Friday. It is a solemn day for Christians worldwide who remember the trial, pain and execution of Jesus Christ on the cross.

In Bwindi, Uganda, it is near the end of the week and there is an exodus of hospital staff and residents from the community. They are heading home for a holiday. It should be a quiet weekend in these parts.

To commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and to celebrate his resurrection, a joint service will be held this evening in the hospital chapel. Good Friday. Easter. Back to back.

Boo! Yah!

We can’t experience the resurrection without first going to the cross. There we contemplate our own humanity, our sin, our rejection of God. For those who take the process seriously, it can be painful. Fortunately, they get Holy Saturday to respite and vigil in preparation for Easter Sunday.

Today in Bwindi, we get the intermission but it will be quick.

When the curtain rises, hearts will lift, the songs will be joyous, tears turn to smiles. One man gives his life for others. There is no greater love than this.

It’s more than a game. It’s God’s love for us.

Yah!

African Easter Homily

John 20: 1-18

The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Christo Azookire (Christ is Risen!) ah zo SHEAR ay
Azookire buzima (He is Risen indeed!)

easter preacher

This week starts my seventh week in Uganda. I am half-way through my time here.

When I arrived in mid-February, I had traveled half way around the world, leaving every comfort of home, and the people I love.

I traveled by myself…but I was not alone.

God in the father, son and Holy Spirit, has accompanied me every step of this trip. From the planning, to my placement in the guest house. His work is glorified in my very presence here with you this morning.

God sent people ahead of me, to welcome me, to comfort me, to direct me. Mukama Asiimwe!

On this, one of the great feast days in the Christian calendar, we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death.

His resurrection opened heaven’s doors for us…for us to transform our lives from sin and selfishness…to service and love and obedience to God.

On that first day of the week, when Mary first arrived at the tomb, and the two disciples moments later, they asked, “Where is Jesus?”

We have asked that many times ourselves.

We can’t get to this day of celebration without first going to the cross.
Last week, we read of Jesus final days. We relived those heartbreaking and difficult stories.
Stories that implicate us in his death, by our rejection of him. Stories that we’ve heard and read for years that stain our consciousness. Stories that leave us trembling, like the beautiful old hymn, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

And you and I, citizens of this fallen world, know what it took to nail Jesus on that cross. Like Peter, we denied him. We lost sight of him. Where is our Jesus?

It wasn’t Peter’s intention to deny Jesus. Far from it. He pledged his loyalty. But Jesus knew about our human nature, our condition, our weakness.

Peter was with a circle of people sitting around the fire…trying to keep warm. Trying to fit in. Trying to belong to a new community of strangers.

In a similar situation, I would do the same, wouldn’t you? I have done the same, haven’t you? I have compromised my principles, I have defied my own statements of loyalty, I have turned from God and Christ. Where is my Jesus?

But Jesus took all of that. He took the world’s selfishness and sin with him on the cross.

When Peter met Jesus’ eyes that moment when the cock crowed, he was convicted by the truth of his weakness. And he wept bitterly.

If we could step out of ourselves, and look at our behavior and rejection of him, we might weep as well.

Our sin is a giant obstacle that stands in the way of our relationship with him. We cannot move it. God can…and will….when we confess and ask him into our hearts.

Jesus was the good shepherd. He was also a threat to authority. He was a threat to the established way of life. He upset the Jewish leaders. He drove the sellers and money-changers from the temple. He healed on the Sabbath. His teachings were hard for the rich young man.
But Jesus said: “God didn’t send his son to the world to condemn the world but to save it.” And that was a hard lesson…a new covenant…
For people in authority, the rulers and powers, and people everywhere, who seek to serve themselves before they serve others, in the end, Jesus had to die.

On that first day of the week, the angels rolled the stone away. They rolled it away from the front of Jesus’ tomb. It is rolled away from our lives. Will we walk in? What will we see?

We have new life and we rejoice at this fact. Jesus’ resurrection is one of the great stories..in fact it’s our life-saver. CHRISTO AZOOKIRE. ah zoo SHEAR ay

Mary went to the tomb on that first day of the week. We expect she would have remained outside and grieved the death of her Lord. For what could she do? She could not remove the stone. But when she arrived, the stone had been rolled aside.
This was upsetting to her. So she immediately turned to tell the other disciples.
Peter and another, ran to the tomb. The younger one arrived first, but did not enter. Peter went right in and saw the linen lying on the ground. He saw a separate cloth that had wrapped around Jesus head. Where is Jesus?

They saw…and they believed he was alive….and they left.

Jesus appeared to Mary on that first resurrection morning. But she did not recognize him at first.
We often encounter God but we do not know it. Like Mary, we are emotional, we are distracted, we are blind. Like Mary, we don’t expect to see Jesus.
It is afterwards, when we look back, we can say in astonishment–the Lord lives, today. I was with him.
But we don’t know it at the time. We look back and know that he was present with us.
In the form of a friend who visited us. In the form of one who helped us. In the form of a stranger who crossed our path and smiled with us.
Yes, today, Jesus is risen with us, this morning.

He is here among us at BCH. He is here next to us.

Turn to your neighbor. Look into their face. What do you see?

Say to them, the Lord is RISEN. In ME. He is in YOU.

Christo azookire! ah zo SHEAR ay

Azookire buzima!