Same Old Easter Story

Well, I have two more bits of Easter humor that I didn't share with the kids during the Children's sermon. I'm sure you've seen lists of "Bulletin Bloopers," mistakes taken from Sunday bulletins; there are quite a few floating around. But one of my all time favorites from those lists is: "This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Cooper to come forward and lay an egg on the Altar."

And one other: A man was coming out of church Easter Sunday, and the pastor was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed the man by the hand and pulled him aside. The Pastor said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!" The man replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor." Pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?" He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service.

So, I guess that's a different start to an Easter Sunday sermon, but it's still, as the title of my sermon states, the "Same Old Easter Story." Or is it?

Did you read about or see the so-called 'documentary' on the Discovery Channel about the "Family Tomb of Jesus"? A film maker (director of 'Titanic') and an author make a claim that Jesus was buried in a tomb with his family, including Mary Magdalene. Two very quick observations: One, Jesus' family was poor and couldn't have afforded such a tomb; and two if they HAD a tomb it would have been in Nazareth, their home town, not Jerusalem. Why would Mary and Joseph, from Nazareth, have a tomb in Jerusalem? Jesus was known as Jesus of Nazareth, not Jesus of Jerusalem. I have put some copies of two good, balanced articles regarding the documentary in earlier March. It contains material from scholars and noted archeologists that show just how misguided the film was, and how it was made chiefly for sensationalism, notoriety, and of course, to make a great deal of cash.

"The documentary received universal criticism and negative reviews from professing Christians, atheists and secularists alike. Archaeologists and secular scholars rejected the film's claims, declaring that substantial evidence is lacking and the topic is faulty. Joe Zias, the archaeology curator of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, dismissed the documentary as a 'hyped-up film which is intellectually and scientifically dishonest.' (AP)

"The film's reckless, 'fast and loose' usage of circumstantial and inconclusive evidence brought harsh criticism from secularists and religious believers throughout the world. Ironically, although millions watched the film, the majority was most likely ignorant of what is written in the pages of the Bible.

"Only half of adults interviewed nationwide could name ANY of the four Gospels of the New Testament. Only 42% were able to correctly name five of the Ten Commandments. And 75% believe the Bible is the origin of the saying, "God helps those who help themselves." It's actually a saying of Benjamin Franklin. Okay, you can be quietly embarrassed that you were one of those who thought that also. (The aforementioned material is from the magazine "The Real Truth.")

You see, the sad truth is that many Christians don't really know the story as presented in the Bible. It's the same with the Christmas story. The Christmas story is found in just two of the Gospels, and the entire Christmas story is not in one Gospel. The Christmas story we know is mostly found in Luke, but the story of the Magi, is found only in Matthew, and if folks read the story, they'd know the Magi didn't arrive at the stable for the birth.

The same is true of the Easter story. All the parts of the Easter story that we tell are not found in just one Gospel. All the 'seven last words of Christ', which by the way are the seven last 'statements,' not just seven words, are not found in one Gospel.

When people don't know what is actually written, they'll believe anything that someone says about what is written if the persons sound like they know what they're talking about.

Good grief. These days, it's NOT the same old Easter story. More and more material of a sensational nature is being presented-and most of it based on circumstantial evidence, and even evidence proven to be false by men and women who have spent their lives as archeologists and scholars-but the average Christian doesn't know that the material has been proven to be false, and doesn't really know what true authorities say, so they're ready to believe this falsely based, sensationalized material.

Over and over I get e-mails from people regarding sensationalized material that is outright false. I tell them how they can check it out to be sure it's true (there are several sites, but the one I use is SNOPES) before they send it on to other people, misleading them. And, once I TELL them it is not true, do you think they care about sending a RETRACTION to all the folks they misled? Do you think they care? No, they don't. They can't be bothered; can't take the time. And despite the fact I tell them to check stuff out before sending it on, so as to be sure they aren't spreading lies or half-truths, do you think they care enough to take the time to check it out for truth? No way.

So, it's NOT the same old Easter story these days. Sensationalists, greedy for money and fame, pick away at the story, and more and more people believe them. More and more people are having their faith shaken. But let me tell you this. If you don't care enough to know the REAL story by knowing what is actually written in the Bible; if you don't care enough to know the TRUTH by easily checking it out; if you don't care enough about your own faith that you would believe anyone who comes along to challenge it, or someone who tries to diminish its strength-then you don't deserve the gift that was given to you by this incredible, earth shaking, life changing, joyous event-the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, who broke the bonds of death forever and who offers, freely, to each of us, life eternal.

But even more than that, through his teachings we can be freed from the negative grasp of the devil who plants all kinds of seeds of doubt and negativity and hate throughout the world to make people believe in hate rather than love. This resurrection event is not just a story that happened 2000 years ago. This is an on-going story of love and forgiveness, compassion and hope.

Because Jesus lives, I know that I can face tomorrow, whatever it brings. Because Jesus lives, there is hope, even in the face of negativity and hate, I will not lose hope. And neither should you. And neither should you believe the hucksters and the hype and the nay-sayers and the sensationalists and those who want to destroy your hope and your faith.

Christ is alive. Say it........Christ is alive! Christ lives!.....Christ lives! If you believe that that is the honest to God's truth, then stand up and be counted....Are you going to let someone change your mind about that?.....No! Again.....No! Are you going to read and learn this story so that no one can fool you into believing something else? Yes! Again.....Yes!

Hallelujah!!! Hallelujah!! Amen. Amen. And so it is. And so it is!

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