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Sermon: Easter Day 2023 - "Faith and Joy: Easter and the Worthing Chronicle"

Sermon Begins at 28:00 of the Video

What if you went to a place that you sometimes try to avoid, but you found it to be a place full of treasures and delight?

Many of you know that I grew up in Hawai’i.

Which means that Easter Sunday shouldn’t be rainy and 50*, especially after it was sunny and 75 yesterday…

Our family moved away from the islands when I was in middle school.

I can remember for weeks after leaving, I would sit in my new house in Texas and just sing over and over this song we used to sing on May Day, “Where I live, there are rainbows, and I can smile when its raining, or feel the warmth of the sun, I hear children laughing, in this land that I love.”

While I’ve always kept Hawai’i in my heart, I used to avoid going back to that time in my life, because it hurt my heart to see 12 year old me live through that pain.

On this Easter Sunday, I’m moved to preach to you, “Faith heals all wounds.”

There are many things to love and to hate about Orson Scott Card’s novel The Worthing Chronicle.

First, it is pretty boring, but on the other hand, as far as science fiction novels go, it’s not too long.

The things is, the author knows that the book can be boring, he counts on it,

Because the fact that you are trudging along through the book means that from time to time you find yourself mesmerized by its beauty.

The book begins in a world where there is no pain and no suffering.

There are no consequences for actions, no anger or resentment, no pain when a baby is born, no grief when a loved one dies;

Until one day there is.

The rest of the novel unravels how and why the world came to be a place of no pain and why “Day of Pain” happened and suffering came back into the world.

There was a character named Adam, born into a powerful family with angelic gifts to see into human minds and memories.

Unlike others in his family, Adam used his power to become ruler of the world and his suffering and brokenness from early in his life ultimately made the world that he ruled an unbearable place to live.

Eventually, a woman named Faith, who is his neice decides that he needs to be stopped.

She has two options: the first is the simplest, the path that is often tred, the Good Friday path; get rid of the problem with violence.

She could sacrifice the one, to save the many.

Then there is the second path, the harder path, the way of healing brokenness with love; to redeem pain through mercy.

It wasn’t a foregone conclusion, but Faith chooses the second path, she chooses to try to heal him, if he is able to endure the healing.

And so she goes to a place where she can enter into Adam’s memories and brokenness to see what has made him the way that he is.

Faith enters into his pain, his fear of being powerless, his inhuman cruelty; and she takes all of it into herself so that she can transform him from the inside – out;

She uses her power to heal him.

She doesn’t take away all of the pain, but she does take the sting out of it, so that he can live a transformed life.

After Adam, those with power decided that there should be no pain in the world, so that another Adam would not rise up.

They swung the pendulum the other way. There would be no fear, no brokenness, no consequences.

But there would also be no Joy in the world, no enjoyment, no delight.

Because Joy is what happens when we come through grief, when we go to the place of our pain and find it healed and resurrected.

We go into the dark night of our souls and find that there is light;

We go, like the women who went to Jesus’ tomb – even if we’re not sure that we’re ready – and find that he is no longer there, that death has no power over the Son of God.

Joy is the realization, the revelation, the exhileration of following Faith into the habitation of suffering and the proclamation, “you have no power over me!”

Joy reveals that Faith heals, and Faith heals all wounds.

The heart of the question that Orson Scott Card asks in this book, I think, is the Easter question from God to us.

What kind of world is the right one? What is just?

A world where everything seems perfect, but there is no Joy?

Or a world where there is pain and suffering, but also the possibility of healing and transformation?

A world where there is no grief at the passing of a loved one,

Or a world where death is real, but Faith can give us consolation and we know that resurrection will come?

The answer, as far as I can tell, is that a world without Good Friday is a world that has no place for Faith and no possibility for real Joy.

Or, let me say it more positively.

Faith allows us to accept the hurt and sorrow of Good Friday, knowing that a world that gives us Faith is a world that proclaims that pain and suffering do not have the last word;

That Joy and delight are always on the horizon, because Faith can heal our brokenness.

So often we try to avoid the pain, to run away from what hurts.

Jesus shows us through his passion that faith knows how to heal us, if we are able to endure the healing;

The women who go to the tomb show us that if we are willing face our pain, though we may go there with weeping, we will come out the other side with Joy.

I used to think that I could avoid or look away from the grief of being forced to leave Hawai’i as a child

A few years ago, I decided to stop running away from that pain, to say to my grief, “you have no power over me.”

I started to play my ukulele again and do you know what I found in the place I had been avoiding?

(Sing JOY C,F,G)

What I have found is that everytime I wade into those waters, I’m washed over and baptized with a deeper connection, a deeper love, and a deeper joy, because of what I’ve had to overcome.

God has resurrected a piece of me that I thought was dead.

God has transformed my pain and healed me, I know it, and I love God for it.

The power of Easter Day is that God knows you and knows what you’ve been through too,

God wants to encourage you today,

Encourage you to remember that there is a plan and that no matter what crucible lies in front of you or behind you, it has no power over you.

It takes faith to take the first step into pain,

But the same God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, will also raise you to a new life of Grace,

Will heal you wounds

And lead you from that first step

into Joy, if you let him.

I pray that this Easter Sunday will give you the courage to go to the places that you have been avoiding to see if you might find treasure and delight, Joy and healing.

Let it be rainy and 50 degrees, we’ve got enough warmth in our hearts.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Thank you Lord for your glorious resurrection,

Thank you for Good Friday, Thank you for Easter.

Thank you Lord, Thank you Lord, Thank you Lord.


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