Sermon by Rev. Deborah Hannay Sunoo
Some of you may have seen a video clip floating around Facebook over the last couple of months. A British gentleman tells a group of people how he responded when someone asked him what he does for a living. It was the inevitable question from the airplane seatmate.
“Well…I work for a global enterprise,” he says. “Do you?” responds his fellow passenger. “Yes I do, we’ve got outlets in nearly every country of the world.” “Have you?” “Yes, we’ve got hospitals and hospices and homeless shelters, we do marriage work, we’ve got orphanages, we’ve got feeding programs, educational programs, all sorts of justice and reconciliation [projects]. Basically, we look after people from birth to death and deal in the area of behavioral alteration.”
“Wow…what’s it called?”
“It’s called the Church.”
British evangelist J. John is the speaker there, and I find something really appealing about his description of the Church. Because it focuses on what Christians do. On how we actually live out our faith. On where we find ourselves sent to do ministry in God’s name. And it’s true, the Church-with-a-capital-C is doing some remarkable work in our world. We have a great deal to celebrate! It’s equally important to remember that we’re all invited to be part of the good work being done in Jesus’ name around the world.
We left off last Sunday at the end of Acts chapter 2. We’re told there that the early church “spent much time together in the temple (their sanctuary), that they broke bread at home and ate food with glad and generous hearts, that they praised God and had the goodwill of all the people. (Acts 2:46-47)
There’s way too much here to read aloud in detail this morning, but if you’ll open to chapters 3 and 4 with me now, you’ll notice a dramatic shift in the plot. No longer tucked in safely at home, we now find the disciples out and about, on the move. They’re back in Jerusalem now, the city where they’d be in greatest danger actually, since Jesus had just been crucified there. In spite of that danger, we see them performing healing miracles in Jesus’ name (3:1-11), and preaching publicly about his life, death, and resurrection (rest of chapter 3), so it’s no surprise actually that they are immediately arrested for doing such things (beginning of chapter 4). No sooner are they released from prison – having been ordered not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus (4:18) – but they pray for boldness! (4:23-30) I might have prayed for safety, for an ability to carry on my work undisturbed by the authorities, but they pray for boldness – and are given it, by the Holy Spirit (4:31). We also read at the end of chapter 4 about the radical way they share all of their possessions – even the proceeds of houses and land they sell - and distribute to each as any has need.
The movement we’re watching unfold here is one of disciples (that is, followers of Jesus) becoming transformed into apostles (that is, ones sent by Jesus). The rest of the book of Acts tells stories along these same lines, stories of a Church that speaks and takes risks and teaches and heals and preaches and gets thrown into prison repeatedly … and grows! Had they remained in that comfortable upper room where they began their journey, had they even remained within the walls of the temple where they enjoyed worshiping God together, none of the rest would have been possible. They had to move from being disciples (followers) to apostles (sent ones). And as it was for them, so it’s meant to be for each of us.
It’s lovely to spend time here at church, to enjoy the company of our friends, to take advantage of wonderful Christian Education classes for our children and ourselves, to sing beautiful songs of praise together, to participate in the sacraments of baptism and communion, to enjoy those all-important coffee hours, as we mentioned last week, and opportunities to share meals together in each other’s homes, and so on.
But if that’s all we’re doing as the Church, then we are seriously falling down on the job. We have a witness to share, and work to do. The world around us is damaged, hurting, frightened, and hungry. We’re not only called together here, we are sent out there to be agents of God’s comfort and healing, deliverers of food and encouragement, distributors of friendship and clothing and shelter and peace.
We mentioned in our first sermon on the book of Acts this spring how important it was that the early church waited and prayed before they immediately started running around trying to do God’s work. We talked about the importance of stopping before you go, to listen for God’s voice, to discern where it is you are being sent, and what you are being sent to do. Heaven knows Christians can run around doing more harm than good when we’re not careful. But we’re also called to move, to put our faith into action.
There’s no shortage of places to dive in and get started. And just imagine the good we can do, collectively, if we allow ourselves to be sent by God, accepting that invitation to be not only disciples (followers) but apostles (sent ones).
What’s more, when we take our faith in Jesus seriously, and do what God calls us to do, we might just find others sitting up and taking notice. Jim Wallis, of Sojourners ministries, finds that “two things happen when people of faith actually say and do what their faith says they should say and do: First, people are surprised. Then they are attracted.” St. Catherine of Siena put it this way: “If you are what you should be, then you will set the world on fire.”
Where might God be sending you? For what do you need to pray, to make it possible for you to accept that challenge? For guidance or resources, equipment or training? For wisdom, or the support of your brothers and sisters in Christ? Or perhaps, like Peter and John in Acts 4, you simply need to pray for boldness, to take the plunge?
I have one final image I want to leave you with today, which also – coincidentally – comes from Facebook. As some of you know my daughter Rebecca has been studying in France this semester, and recently had a spring break during which she did some traveling outside of France. Most of her classmates in the program there took the same opportunity and traveled to a whole variety of different places that same week. Rebecca tells me it was really kind of incredible to be off in Italy, herself, and to watch Facebook posts coming in from friends in Spain and Germany and Ireland, Croatia and the Netherlands. Sharing stories and swapping pictures helped each one of them feel like they’d somehow been part of the whole adventure. I have this visual in mind – starting from a single point, where they’d studied together and become a unified group, and then spreading out to points all over Europe, to use the skills they’d learned together, and bring amazing stories back.
As I think about the kinds of good work I know some of you are already doing outside these church walls, in God’s name – work in missions and in shelters, in food banks and in nursing homes, in schools and in hospitals, on local playgrounds or in your own homes… As you all leave this sanctuary each week and find ways to impact the world for good, I get that same visual image. Again, from a single point where we have gathered to learn and study and train together, and build community…to an incredible range of different places where we may be sent. Don’t let the study abroad kids in Europe have all the fun. Remember how we multiply our own impact, as we spread out in all directions to minister in different ways. Let’s not forget to share our stories with each other too, so we all feel part of the adventure. For mission can certainly be done when groups of us work together all at once (as with our Operation Nightwatch homeless dinners for instance). But the Church’s mission also happens when we each find our own individual niche, serving God with our whole heart in a ministry that feels like it was designed just for us.
Frederick Buechner says “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Which means there are as many directions we could be sent as there are individuals in this room. Where does your deep gladness, and the world’s need, lead you?
Again, the key is to remember that we are not only disciples, but apostles. We are not only called to follow Jesus, we are also sent to witness and to serve in Jesus’ name.
We, too, are part of that great “global enterprise” which really does do so much good in the world. The media enjoy picking up every story they can of the weaknesses and failures of the Church. It’s within our power to tell a whole different set of stories. Stories of hope and friendship. Stories of bellies filled and hearts healed. Stories of kindness and courage and service and grace.
Think about it. Starting from a single point, here in this room, but spreading out in all directions. And not just the adults in the congregation but the children and youth we are raising here too. Imagine the potential in that crew! Where might they someday bring with them the lessons from Scripture we have taught them, the worship life we have offered them, and the examples of active faith that we have tried our best to model for them here? Where might they in fact already be doing God’s work? For I suspect there are no age limits for discipleship or apostleship. We are, all of us, trained and equipped, nurtured and encouraged, supported and sustained… but also sent to do important work in the world, in God’s name.
I hope you’ll share with us where God is sending you. Wherever it is, may God be with you there!
Sermon by Rev. Deborah Hannay Sunoo
I was reading a portion from the book of Acts in a children’s Bible awhile back, and in its conclusion ran across this description of the early church: “Soon there were people in many places who knew about Jesus. These people got together…to help each other, to eat together, to remember the things that Jesus said, and to talk about living in God’s way. When people came together like this, they called it a church.” (The Family Story Bible, p. 270)
What a great line: “when people came together like this, they called it a church…” For wherever people come together like this, they do call it a church. And what a privilege it is, to do so many of the things that make us a church, in a single day.
I invite you to pull out your bulletin for just a minute and walk through it with me. First notice this back and forth movement throughout the service, of hearing and then responding to the word of God. Our lives of faith are always lived in response to the amazing grace of a God who loves us, calls us, reaches out to us first.
And then that central movement of hearing and responding to God’s word takes shape for us in particular ways.
We come together in worship to celebrate the gifts of God, to offer our praise and thanks, to lift up our whole lives before the God to whom we belong. So we call ourselves to worship, and lift up songs of praise.
We admit to God that we’ve messed up, and we hear an assurance of God’s pardon, remembering that every one of us is both flawed and forgiven. We offer one another signs of peace, for who among us cannot benefit from a smile, a kind word, and above all the gift of Christ’s peace? Later on we’ll pray for one another, and pray for our world. And while we fall short of the level of generosity demonstrated by the early church, where all of their worldly goods were given over and shared in common, we do encourage one another to be as generous as we can be, with our possessions. We remind each other regularly that all that we have and all that we are comes from God, and it is only fitting to give back – not in a stingy or grudging way – but out of an overflowing spirit of gratitude.
Before worship this morning, some of us studied and learned together (the younger ones among us are in their classrooms now) and some of us sang together, and some of us were welcoming newcomers, and there were folks setting up food for us downstairs so we can eat together after worship. For when we come together at coffee hour, we call that the church too, don’t we? Ask any of our kids; they’ll tell you it’s an important part of what we’re all about around here. And to be fair, the Church has been eating together, since day one.
The list goes on and on – of the many ways this morning will, in the end, reflect what we’re all about, as a church. For really, we pray that every Sunday demonstrates at least some of what Acts 2 describes in connection with the earliest Christians. Might we, too, find ourselves spending time together day-by-day, breaking bread together, eating with glad and generous hearts, praising God, and having the goodwill of all the people. (Acts 2:46-47) Not a bad list of things to aspire to, is it?
Finally, this morning, we celebrated the sacrament of baptism, a sign of God’s grace, a sign, says Peter in Acts 2, of the promise of God’s Holy Spirit. We’re told it’s a promise that “is for you, for your children, and for all… everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2:39)
One of the great gifts of being part of the Church is the privilege of making the promises we make at every baptism. Will we love, encourage, and support these boys, share the good news of the gospel with them, and help them know and follow our Lord? You bet we will! We look forward to being the church for Matthew and Jack, to watching them grow into young men, to befriending them and praying for them along the way, and finally to sending them off wherever they may go from here, with God’s blessing: “May God be with you there!”
We won’t always get it right. Sometimes we’ll be the ones to stumble, or screw up. Sometimes it will be others in the Church who hurt us. Remember Peter talking about the need for repentance in this morning’s text from Acts? That’s built right into our DNA as Church too. Hence the need for that weekly prayer of confession and assurance of pardon, reminding us we’re both flawed and forgiven.
But here’s the thing. Nowhere is it written that we have to be perfect, to be the Church. Somehow, simply offering what we can seems to give God plenty to work with. Take Peter, for instance. No one’s idea of a perfect leader; he’d only recently denied the Lord whose resurrection he now preached with a passion. Yet God used Peter to do amazing things. He offered up his weaknesses right along with his strengths, and the Holy Spirit went to work, and the Church took off!
So much so, that (again to quote that children’s Bible) “soon there were people in many places who knew about Jesus. These people got together…to help each other, to eat together, to remember the things that Jesus said, and to talk about living in God’s way. When people came together like this, they called it a church.”
It’s encouraging to hear stories of just how busy the Holy Spirit can be, behind the scenes, bringing folks together in the Church. Pastor Lillian Daniel tells a story of the time when she found out that her son had diabetes. It happened just days before Holy Week. Because she loved Palm Sunday, she had planned a lot for that day. There was to be the usual grand procession with the palms, the special music, and the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. And because she had assumed it would be a celebratory day, she had decided that it would also be the day when new members would join the church.
Early that Sunday morning, with the news of her son’s diabetes hanging on her shoulders, she sat at the desk in the front office with no celebratory feelings whatsoever. One of the new members who was to join that day, a young man who worked in the medical field, had arrived bright and early. “How are you this morning?” he asked innocuously, not realizing he would be the first person she had seen at church that morning, and that he was about to really find out.
“You know what?” Pastor Daniel said, “I’m not doing too great. My son is in the hospital, diagnosed with diabetes, out of nowhere, and he may or may not get to come to church today…So how am I doing? To be honest, I’m a little shaky.” She realized after she spoke that she had said too much, so she quickly said, “Sorry.”
“Juvenile diabetes or type-two?” he asked, appearing to know a distinction that most people do not. “Type-one?” She nodded.
“Well, I have type-one diabetes,” he said. “In fact, it’s what drove me to go into medicine. I’m passionate about helping people to live healthy lives with this condition. I think that’s why I am joining the church today. I’m going to be a friend to your son, and help you all to deal with this.”
And that’s exactly what happened. His friendship changed their lives in the years that followed, and none of that would have happened had they not been joined together in the body of Christ, not just in their good news but also in their bad.
That new church member probably thought that he was joining the church that day because he needed it. And he was right. But in addition, sometimes the reason you are part of the church is because somebody here needs you.
Helping each other. Eating together. Remembering the things Jesus taught us. Doing our best to live together in God’s way.
When people come together like this, we call it Church. Thank you for being part of our living witness to what we’re all about.
Sermon by Rev. Deborah Hannay Sunoo
Last Sunday we talked about comforting words from angels: “Fear not.” “Do not be afraid.”
I’ve got to say I love the questions biblical angels ask, too.
Back in Luke’s resurrection account, in chapter 24 of his gospel, angels say to the women arriving at Jesus’ tomb: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
To which their unvoiced answer must have been: “Um, living? We’re just here to anoint our friend’s body for burial.”
And here, the same author in the first chapter of Acts has the angels asking: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”
“Well, because Jesus… I mean, there was this cloud, and then all of a sudden… Wait. What do you mean ‘why are we looking up toward heaven?’ Didn’t you see that?!”
Seems to me those disciples had good reason to be dumbfounded, and to keep their gaze focused heavenward awhile.
In fact, in addition to the rather surprising logistics of his exit strategy, Jesus’ ascension into heaven also begs the question: Why did he leave?
He’d risen from the dead. He was actually alive again! He spent 40 days with his disciples after Easter morning. Why leave them now? Why didn’t they get 40 more years with their friend and teacher instead of a measly 40 days?
Perhaps Jesus knew that through the power of the Holy Spirit, and their ever-increasing numbers, they could, in fact, reach the whole world with his message in a way he could not if it remained up to him alone, in bodily form.
Perhaps Jesus tagged out, because it was time for his followers to tag in. He was ready to entrust them with great responsibility, because he knew there was important work they could accomplish in his name.
That work would involve building up the kingdom of God on earth.
That work would involve teaching folks a whole new way to live, one that turned the world’s values on their head.
That work would become the work of the Church, in the weeks and months and years that followed.
A Church that was quite small at first, but would begin to grow quickly as soon as the very next chapter of Acts, on the day of Pentecost.
In other words, the angels didn’t ask the disciples why they were standing there looking up, because the angels didn’t realize what had just happened.
They asked the question to remind the disciples that it was time to redirect their focus now, time to regroup, and start in on the work Jesus had asked them to do.
Our sermon series over these next several weeks will have us looking at texts from the book of Acts that can help us better understand our own calling as the Church.
Granted, there some significant cross-cultural gaps between what was going on in the first century world and what’s happening around us today.
But there is still much we can learn from the work and witness of the earliest Christians. After all, as Tony Robinson says, in Acts we find “the church advancing the ministry of Jesus, doing what he did, saying what he said, [and in the process] disturbing and delighting a world that is both sorely in need of the gospel and yet resistant to it.” (Anthony Robinson and Robert Wall, Called to be Church, p. 5)
The good news of God’s kingdom “disturbing and delighting a world that is both sorely in need of the gospel and yet resistant to it” - sounds rather like the world in which we live, doesn’t it?
And the first lesson the early church can teach us comes right here in Acts chapter 1.
Because for all of the urgency of their assignment from Jesus – spreading the gospel to Jerusalem, and to Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth – did you happen to notice how they actually begin their work?
They head back to that “upper room” where they were wont to gather, and collect all the major players – the remaining 11 apostles in Judas’ absence, and the women who’d followed Jesus, and Mary, Jesus’ mom, who appears to have been an important figure in the early church as well.
They all get together and what do they do first?
Verse 14 says they devote themselves to prayer. And it’s clear this wasn’t just a perfunctory opening prayer to launch into a bunch of committee work.
The text says “they were constantly devoting themselves to prayer.”
My maternal grandmother had a number of well-known sayings in our family. One of the funniest – yet most pragmatic – was the simple reminder: “always stop before you go!”
(If you picture yourself gathering a group of kids for a road trip, loading up the car, and preparing for a few hours’ drive, the saying will instantly make sense to you: “always stop before you go” and then you’ll need fewer pit stops along the way!)
I was thinking, though, that it’s good advice for us in a variety of contexts, isn’t it?
Always stop, before you go.
It certainly works in a more general sense. Pause and reflect, before you jump in. Look before you leap. Measure twice; cut once, and all that. (Jesus was a carpenter, after all.)
But more importantly, in the context of our friends the first disciples, stop first to pray. Stop to remember who called you to this task in the first place. Stop to offer worship and praise to the God who both created and called you. Stop to ask for God’s help. Stop to listen for God’s direction. Stop to remember God’s gracious promises, like the ones we heard last week: that God is always with you, so you need not fear.
Always stop, before you go.
Every time the Church actually remembers to wait and pray before launching a new effort, we remind ourselves that the Church is God’s church.
And that the Church didn’t and doesn’t invent itself. It is always called and formed by God.
William Willimon observes that waiting is a real “burden for us… impatient moderns who live in an age of instant everything,” but “our waiting implies that the things which need doing in our world are beyond our ability to accomplish solely by our own effort… Some other empowerment is needed, therefore the church waits and prays.” (Acts, p. 21)
The disciples had been “given a job to do and [promised] the power with which to do it.” (Willimon, Acts, p. 20)
But first, they had to stop.
To remember who was in charge.
And to wait on power, direction, and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Because sometimes the most important question isn’t: what should we do next? But what is God already doing? Where is God’s Spirit moving?
Once that becomes a bit clearer, we’ll often find an answer to the question of what we should be doing, as participants in God’s work.
The book of Acts begins with the Church being formed. And it turns out the Church is formed by waiting and prayer, by power from the Holy Spirit, and guidance from God.
By the very next chapter, the Church will find opportunities to speak itself into being, you might say, as Peter and the others give words to their experience of Jesus’ resurrection and identify themselves publicly as his followers. They’ve got a lot to say, and we’ll find they’re about to start preaching up a storm!
Thank God they knew enough to stop, before they got going.
Sermon by Rev. Deborah Hannay Sunoo
I’ve read this final chapter of Matthew’s gospel any number of times but what jumped out at me this time around was first of all the fear – I don’t know if you noticed that it’s mentioned four times in those 10 verses Steve just read for us?
The guards, and then the women who came to the tomb, being afraid.
And the angels, and then Jesus himself, saying: “Do not be afraid.”
Whatever else may be going on here, this tells me it’s ok if any of you find all this resurrection talk today a little unsettling. You’re in good company.
I remember reading to my now-teenaged daughter from a children’s Bible years ago – she was probably 4 or 5 years old at the time. I think we were actually reading from the Christmas story, but an angel was speaking to someone or other, saying “Do not be afraid,” and without missing a beat, she said: “angels are always saying that!”
She was absolutely right, of course.
Throughout both testaments, biblical angels are always saying that. “Fear not.” “Do not be afraid.”
God says it a lot too.
Through the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, for instance: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isa 41:10)
In the gospels, Jesus walking on water and in the process terrifying his disciples, says to them “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
In the very last book of the Bible – the strange and somewhat unsettling book of Revelation – we find words of encouragement and comfort, and even reminders of Easter morning, as Jesus says to us: “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever.” (Rev 1:17-18)
At any rate, the guards had good reason to be frightened, back in Matthew 28. There they are, keeping watch over a dead guy, sealed in a tomb. That doesn’t sound like a particularly tough gig, right? They wouldn’t have had reason to expect a prison break under those circumstances, dead people not often making a run for it.
But as Tom Long says, “these soldiers had what must surely be the unluckiest assignment in military history – making sure Jesus stayed in the grave.” (Matthew, p. 322)
Suddenly, there’s an earthquake, and an angel pushes the huge stone back from the entrance of the tomb, and he’s all white and glowing, bright as lightning, and the tomb itself is empty. No wonder they freaked out!
[Incidentally, did you catch Matthew’s joke there? The guy who’s supposed to stay dead doesn’t, so the guards “become like dead men” in their fear?]
The angel’s words are not directed to them, though, but to the women who had come to care for Jesus’ body at the time of burial: “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come and see… then go and tell…” (Matthew 28:5-6)
And here’s one of the things I love most about this story.
We’re told the women leave the tomb quickly, “with fear and great joy.”
“With fear and great joy.”
At first that struck me as an odd combination.
But as I thought about it, I realized many of life’s biggest moments can bring with them a good sized helping of each, can’t they?
New parents, bringing home a baby? Certainly fear and great joy there.
Stepping into a new job, a new school, a new relationship? Fear is often coupled with joy on those kinds of occasions too.
Even sitting beside the bedside of a loved one who isn’t long for this world. Granted, it’s not always possible to include the joy. Not when the death is sudden, or the person we love much too young.
But I’ve been privileged recently to sit with a couple of our wonderful 90-something church ladies in the final days of their lives, and in those cases it is possible to approach death with a measure of fear, but also great joy at what lies beyond.
I should mention that a little later on in Matthew 28, beyond the verses we read this morning, there’s fearful talk of another kind entirely. We find the authorities gathering to discuss what on earth they’re going to do, with Jesus no longer safely locked up. They’d beaten him, killed him, taken him down from the cross, sealed him away in that tomb, but somehow, he’d gotten loose! (You know what people will say, don’t you? That he’s risen from the dead!)
So they agree the story will be that some of his disciples came and stole Jesus’ body while the guards were asleep.
Not a story that would reflect particularly well on the guards. But they had to do something. I mean, think of what could happen if word of the empty tomb got loose, just as Jesus himself had done.
And of course their greatest fears were realized, since the women did come and see, and then go and tell. Word of the empty tomb did get loose, just as Jesus had done. And here we all are today.
That a terrified band of disciples cowering away in a locked room suddenly became a powerful witness to the resurrection – this tells me there’s truth in the Easter story, however strange it may sound.
For that community of fearful disciples was absolutely transformed by their encounters with the risen Christ.
Jesus’ resurrection became their own, in a way, as grief was turned to joy, hopelessness to hope, crippling fear to great courage. God wins! Life wins! Death has lost its sting!
Matthew 28 continues with Jesus doing exactly what he’d promised the women he would do, and appearing to the other disciples in Galilee. Verse 17 tells us “when they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.” I like it even better in the Greek original, where it’s possible to read “they worshipped him and they doubted.”
The combination of worship and doubt seems to me to be such a realistic and appropriate response to the appearance of the risen Jesus.
It’s a mix you might even find yourself experiencing on a day like today.
It’s so hard to believe, after all, that God really did raise Jesus from the dead. But oh, how we want to believe it. Because if it’s true, then we too can be people of resurrection hope.
So here we all are.
Perhaps worshipping and doubting today, perhaps with our own mixture of fear and great joy.
And then, finally, we arrive at the very last words in Matthew’s whole gospel.
Fully aware that the assembled gathering of disciples is not only joyful and worshipful, but also a frightened, doubting mess, Jesus commands them to go into all the world, inviting others to join them as his followers.
And then he offers them a beautiful promise: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“I am with you, always.”
God’s always saying that, too.
It’s the same promise we hear at Christmas. The promise of Immanuel, God with us.
It’s the same promise we hear at a graveside – that neither death nor life can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8)
It’s words like these that empower us to go into the world and share what we’ve experienced of God, even if we don’t have it all figured out. Even if – for all our good intentions and desire to worship the risen Christ - we’re still a bit of a frightened, doubting mess.
The angel’s invitation to the women at the tomb is an invitation to each one of us: Come and see. Then go and tell.
Jesus’ words to the disciples are intended for all of us as well. Get out there, go into all the world, sharing my good news. For I am with you always.
“Fear not,” say God’s angels.
“I am with you,” says Jesus.
They are always saying it, because we always need to hear it.
“Do not be afraid.” “I am with you.”
On this Easter day, and every day, I pray God’s words will meet you in your own places of fear, and bring you great joy. Amen.