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Restored Hope (Sermon April 8, 2012)

Scripture: John 20:1-18

The day is over the lights are dimming and all the people are gone. The day was one of celebration our friend Adam has been instrumental in building the company he works for from next to nothing into a corporation that attracted the attention of others. This celebration was one of great hope everyone in the company just received a great lump sum bonus as the company was sold for millions. Everyone was filled with great hope, but why was Adam filled with such hopelessness? His back account is filled, and companies are calling him asking for him to join their cause. Alone he sits in this conference room drinking his last Dr. Pepper on the company dime wondering if he is capable to keep up this lifestyle. For everyone else they can move into a new company with little change, for him there are expectations. Could he do it again, was it really his ideas, or was he just a member of a great team? Was it even right to sell the company?

He know these feeling will not get him anywhere but at this time and place he just cannot keep them from overtaking his mind. He knows he could not have accomplished anything without the support of the team and together they made all the decision. This knowledge however does not keep him from dreading a future that at this moment seems hopeless. We may not be millionaires and I know it is difficult for us to imagine that someone with so much success could be experiencing feelings of hopelessness. Feelings are part of humanity.

The followers of Jesus would have to be considered successful in their pursuit. They had a gathering of people in the thousands. Their leader was named king over their land and they had the highest hopes. If you were to interview these men and women the Sunday prior to this they would be on top of the world, unstoppable. In less than a week these successful disciples went from cloud nine to the drainage ditch. imagine their feelings. Their leader is dead and buried the only thing left to do is to anoint the body.

All the hopes they had were buried with the body of a man. They dreamed of a kingdom, wealth, and power. These common men and women thought they might finally raise out of their current state to something greater. No longer the oppressed but the one calling the shots. Their dreams died, their dreams were hung on a cross. They did not have a concept of anything else. They knew only one life, only one life system. Their hope was placed on a man not on God. True this man had something special, but their hope was placed in a man.

Misplaced hope causes us to dwell in areas of darkness. This is one reason Jesus had to be crucified and buried. We look to men and women to bring about success in life. That person may be a person we vote for, an employee or pastor, or it may be yourself. In any case eventually we will fail. Our failure may be great or small, but failure is the same. It sneaks in where we least expect it and devours us. It bring about fear and hopelessness.

These followers of Jesus were caught up in the hope and success of the human side of things. They seemed religious but their hope was not in God but a man. They did not know Jesus in the way we do they did not understand the concept of a trinitarian God. It was beyond their religious framework. They could only experience a relationship with God in their religious box and through the actions of others. The box was redefined during the ministry of both John the Baptist and Jesus, but it still revolved around the temple and the priests. Their faith was not firmly set on God but mankind. And their faith was shaken because the very places they looked to to find hope, ripped their hope right out from under them leaving them with nothing but three years of lost wages. And they wept.

Where are we placing our hope? Are we putting it in the systems devised and controlled by mankind or are they found in another area? These disciples wept for their friend and themselves. They wept for their nation and their God. Their hope was buried and the women were going to morn and remember a dying dream. This concept really hit home with me this week. I worked long hours, I carried the burden of my job on my shoulders and it did not bring joy. My strength was failing, so much so my brain and body ached from the fatigue. I was relying on a man. Myself sure I prayed I wrote about it, but where was my hope where was my rest and assurance? I thought I could handle a lot, I know now that I am not as strong as I would like to believe. How quickly I can break, how quickly we all can break. These men knew it because they felt it. They had hoped in a man and that hope failed them it was buried.

Mankind is weak, it is limited. We make decisions based on our own preferences. They chose to follow this teacher because they thought that he would bring in the kingdom that he said was at hand. They watched as he taught and shared the good news. They saw that He did not act as others did and they thought surly he is the one. They watched their leader turn that tide. He did the unexpected. He was announced as their king yet instead of sounding the trumpets he willingly went to the cross. They watched him being beaten, they heard him cry out to God the Father forgive them, and announce that it was finished as he breathed his last breath.

The women walked the path to finally bury the dream and resign themselves to a life of bondage. God had a different dream. In His dream mankind would be reconciled to Him. In His dream His creation would no longer be enemies but friends. The war between God and His creation had gone on long enough. War will always be waged, enemies will always be found unless one side stops the fighting and builds a bridge between the gap. God came from His side stretched out His arms, providing the bridge.

Yet he was buried. They approach the place where hope was laid wrapped to turn to dust but instead of death they found nothing. They approached the tomb only to find it open. Out of fear the women ran to tell the others. Peter and the beloved disciple hurried to see what was going on only to find that the tomb was empty. The grave clothes were there but there was no body. Confused the two disciples left hopeless, not only had the dream died but it was gone. They left broken. Only the woman the one who washed the teacher’s feet with her hair remained not willing to let the dream be forgotten. She wept and behind her someone comes up asking her, ” Why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

Whom are you looking for? The dream of God was to restore creation, His dream and his ultimate plan is to walk with His creation in the cool of the evenings in the garden created out of limitless love. Our dream is to be restored to be brought back into a community, we desire to be accepted and to live at peace with God, with ourselves, with our culture, and the earth. Our dream is not to be in a system of belief but relationship. We desire relationships but a relationship cannot be formed unless those involved give themselves to it. Hope is restored when we stop fighting and simply sit vulnerable before God and listen for the voice of our God, creator, and friend.

Adam was caught up in a flood of doubt, because he was forgetting what made his company, his coworkers, and him worth so much. It wasn’t him, or them, but it was the meeting between them all. Our life can be filled with great joy and hope even in our darkest days if we focus our goals not on ourselves but when we simply lay down all we have and wait for our risen lord to call us to Himself.

When our hopes seem to be dead and buried, the truth is revealed. It is not in the man but God. It is God that can restore the broken body, the wounded heart, and revive the dead. HE IS RISEN. He was once dead, once buried in the earth, but no more He rolled the stone away. He rose from the grave to defeat the hopelessness mankind has in themselves and to give us access to friendship with God. He died and carried with him our sin, fear, and everything that can seperate us from a restored relationship and he rose to give us a new kind of hope. A hope grounded not in the works of mankind but in the very love and power of God. He has Risen, so that we can live a life like the one he lived. A life of grace, love, and service to all of creation.

I ask again where is our hope? Is it found in a dead and buried religious and cultural system, or is it found in the life of Christ? He opened his arms to embrace us as friends, so let us now come before him and enjoy Friendship with Him.

About jwquaker

I’m sure everyone wants to know who I am…well if you are viewing this page you do. I’m Jared Warner and I am a pastor or minister recorded in the Evangelical Friends Church Mid America Yearly Meeting. To give a short introduction to the EFC-MA, it is a group of evangelical minded Friends in the Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. We are also a part of the larger group called Evangelical Friends International, which as the name implies is an international group of Evangelical Friends. For many outside of the Friends or Quaker traditions you may ask what a recorded minister is: the short answer is that I have demistrated gifts of ministry that our Yearly Meeting has recorded in their minutes. To translate this into other terms I am an ordained pastor, but as Friends we believe that God ordaines and mankind can only record what God has already done. More about myself: I have a degree in crop science from Fort Hays State University, and a masters degree in Christian ministry from Friends University. Both of these universities are in Kansas. I lived most of my life in Kansas on a farm in the north central area, some may say the north west. I currently live and minister in the Kansas City, MO area and am a pastor in a programed Friends Meeting called Willow Creek Friends Church.


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