Easter Sunday 2018 Sermon:         Tell It Like It Is! Scripture:       Acts 10:34-43 Preacher:       Rev. Michael Bodger Location:        First Presbyterian, DeLand Date:               April 01, 2018 Christ has risen……..He has risen indeed This morning we celebrate the risen Lord and we proclaim this truth loudly to all in our words, our prayers, our songs – our inhibitions are erased with those around us and we are joyous in our celebrations and it is right that we should be so. Each of the gospels tell of what transpired on this morning following on from Good Friday and the cross. They tell of an earthquake and guards who shook and became like dead men. They tell of the women, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome as the returned to the tomb and of them being met by angels in dazzling white who ask  “Why do you look for the living among the dead?, and they experience  the empty tomb, and we are told they left the tomb and fled for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. And we read that Jesus appears to them in the garden and they then go and tell the others and the disciples do not believe them. We read that Peter and John rush to the tomb to find it empty, they did not understand and simply go home. They are all accounts that tell of what transpired on this morning and they all celebrate the Risen Lord and the basic unifying element is that the tomb is empty, for He is Risen……He is risen indeed. And as much as we celebrate this morning today and re-live those gospel stories, today we are going to step away from those traditional texts in the Gospels to an after story – to a time beyond that first Easter morning and we will be going to the Book of Acts and to Peter’s telling of the story of Jesus to a Gentile, one deemed unworthy to receive the Good news – but who receives it anyway. We arrive at our text after Jesus’ resurrection and Jesus’ appearance to the disciples and others, it’s after Jesus has breathed the Holy Spirit upon them all and Peter has already spoken to those gathered in Jerusalem for Passover. In fact, a great deal has happened and time has gone by. Saul who was persecuting the early church and has met Jesus on the road to Damascus and become Paul. Jesus’ instruction to his followers that they were to preach the gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth has already begun to be fulfilled and the message that the good news is for all peoples has been accepted. In fact right before our text we read that Peter is told that “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times and it clearly was a reference to going to the Gentiles. Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God, has had a vision, and Peter finds himself in Cornelius’ household and Cornelius says to Peter after telling him about his vision and the fact that he was told to send men to Peter who was some 30 miles away in Joppa and to ask him to come to Cornelius’ household in Caesarea, 33 Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.” So open your bible’s if you will or use the pew bible and you can find the text on page 895. We will be reading from Acts 10:34-43. Listen to what the Spirit is telling the church this day. READ Acts 10:34-43 A question is posed to us this day specifically. Are we content with the celebration of Easter? Are we sated by Easter Sunday or are we empowered by experiencing the sheer magnitude of the power of Christ’s resurrection, not just this day but everyday. Christ is risen….He is risen indeed …and it is for all peoples. Peter has come to understand this and he says to Cornelius, this Roman centurion, a man who represents those who put Jesus on the cross, the enemies of the people of Israel, yet those who were included when Jesus cried from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Peter, as a result of what he has been told, starts out by saying, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Yes, God came to the people of Israel, but he is Lord of all. In what Peter has to say, notice that Peter is unconcerned with Cornelius’ reaction to what it is he says. Often times we focus on what others might think or say or do in response to what we say, instead of simply focusing on what we are saying. Peter has clearly been led to this moment and all Peter has to do is Tell It Like It Is! And he does, he proceeds to tell the story. This is who Jesus is, says Peter, this is what Jesus has done for me and who Jesus is to me. [1]The story is told that Queen Victoria was deeply moved during a church service. Afterward, she asked her chaplain, “Can one be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety?” He did not have an answer. But an evangelist named John Townsend heard about the Queen’s question, and after much prayer he sent her a note: “With trembling hands, but heartfelt love, and because I know that we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the Home that Jesus went to prepare, may I ask your Most Gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture: John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10?” Two weeks later, the evangelist received this letter: “. . . I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me, and trust by God’s grace to meet you in that Home of which He said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ signed Victoria Guelph” Townsend was confident that in this life we can have assurance of eternal safety (v.9), and he had a concern for others as well. He told what he believed. It is no different for us, we who have gathered here this day to celebrate the fact that Christ is Risen….He is risen indeed. To embrace the power of the resurrection and yet why is it that we find it so difficult to simply Tell It Like It Is! Peter goes on to tell Cornelius, We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day. – The tomb was empty. Despite all that Peter did in abandoning Jesus in the garden, in denying Jesus in the lead up to the crucifixion, in not believing the women who went to the tomb, or even initially his own eyes, Jesus did not abandon Peter. Peter is telling the story to those he has been put in a position to tell, those who weren’t there and it is no different for us. We are to Tell It Like It Is to those around us as simply as Peter told Cornelius and his household. No frills, no explanations, no justifications, no apologies for who we are, for we are witnesses, otherwise why would we be here today. Peter goes on to say, God allowed Jesus to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. It’s what we will be doing this morning. Coming to the table together. Yes to eat and drink with one another, Yes to eat and drink with those of like mind around the world, Yes, even to eat and drink with all those who have gone before us and Yes to eat and drink with Him to be in the presence of Jesus Christ in a mysterious way after he rose from the dead. Christ is Risen….He is risen indeed The challenge is to take today and then live it for all our tomorrows. To take this day and the joy of our proclamation and thankfulness and gratitude and continue to proclaim it everyday of our lives. To Tell It Like It Is, that others would know and come to understand the love of Jesus Christ – who is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. Peter goes on to say, “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.” Peter didn’t just simply accept the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and then move on with his life. He took the power of the resurrection of our Lord and it became his life. It’s so ironic that on this particular day this year, the world reflects upon and lives into the fact that it is April Fools Day. It’s a day when people play practical jokes on others and the victims are called April Fools. Sadly, there will probably be more newscasts, more time spent, more people talking about April Fools Day jokes worldwide than talk about Jesus’ resurrection. Scripture tells us, today tells us, that as we remember the fact that Christ is Risen….He is Risen indeed, that by the very fact that we all respond by saying He is risen indeed, Christ’s resurrection is not some practical joke. We read in the Book of Psalms, Psalm 14 in fact which starts with these words - Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” Do you think the psalmist knew that some time in the future, April the First would become known as Fool’s day. Makes you wonder! There are those in the world who take the truth of God, which means the truth of the resurrection, and treat it as a practical joke and scripture says “They are fools.” The scandal of the good news of Jesus Christ is seen as foolish to those who are of this world. Paul says, “He commanded us to preach to the people. To tell those who are truly the foolish ones, the ones who call us foolish, what it is we believe. What we are unaware of, is who is ready to listen when we encounter them. Sometimes just like Cornelius there are others who want to know and there are also some who have lost their way who simply need to be reminded of whose we are. I have shared the following story once before, but it is appropriate for today. [2]In Executive Edge newsletter, management-consultant Ken Blanchard retells the story of a little girl named Schia (which first appeared in a book titled Chicken Soup for the Soul). When Schia was 4 years old, her baby brother was born. "Little Schia began to ask her parents to leave her alone with the new baby. They worried that, like most 4-year-olds, she might want to hit or shake him, so they said no." Over time, though, since Schia wasn't showing signs of jealousy, they changed their minds and decided to let Schia have her private conference with the baby. "Elated, Schia went into the baby's room and shut the door, but it opened a crack--enough for her curious parents to peek in and listen. They saw little Schia walk quietly up to her baby brother, put her face close to his, and say, 'Baby, tell me what God feels like. I'm starting to forget.'" Have we gotten into the pattern of forgetting who the risen Lord is for us? Do we need reminding?  Will today be a distant memory in the days to come. Reading the bible, having others share with us what God has done, being in community with other Christ Followers, can help us remember – lest we forget. Are we made out to be the fools, when today, Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Risen Lord and then forget to tell others about Him, or forget to let it impact our lives each and every day. We celebrate Easter as a day, Easter Sunday. It has taken us 40 days to journey here through Lent and yet the celebration of Christ’s resurrection should be a daily occurrence in our lives, just as the sun rises in the sky, the Son, Jesus Christ should rise in our hearts each and every day. Amen Peter concludes our text today with these words, All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. Can we afford not to tell others that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. The very next verse, Acts 10:44 goes like this. While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. Peter’s call was to Tell It Like It Is and the Holy Spirit did the rest. Tell It Like It Is! and leave the rest up to God. Live it Like It Is! and leave the rest up to God. We are witnesses to all that Jesus did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. We are witnesses to all that Jesus has done in our lives. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day.  Brothers and sisters, Christ is Risen….He is risen indeed – go and Tell It Like It Is! and all of God’s people said. Amen   Michael D. Bodger, M.Div. Pastor & Teaching Elder First Presbyterian Church 724 North Woodland Blvd. DeLand, Florida 32720  © 2018 Michael D. Bodger. Sermon manuscripts are available for the edification of members and friends of First Presbyterian Church, DeLand, Florida and may not be altered, re-purposed, published or preached without permission. All rights reserved. [1] https://odb.org/2013/05/20/a-sure-salvation/ [2] http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/august/3308.html