Easter Day: All Age Service
Some folk get so excited about Easter. Today I pray that we will find a reason not just to be excited about Easter but about every day.
Saint or Sinner?
I want you to look at some pictures and just shout out Good Guy or Bad Guy.
We are trained as human beings to work out if people are good or bad. If they are good people then they are safe to be around, if they are bad then they are dangerous to be around and maybe we shouldn’t be near them.
But that got me thinking.
What does God think about us?
Does God think of us as Good Guys or Bad Guys?
I think that would be really important to know.
Only God wouldn’t use the words Good Guys or Bad Guys. There are theological words for Good Guys and Bad Guys, and those words are Saints and Sinners.
As this is so important I thought it would be good to know how we know what a Saint and a Sinner look like.
So I have two sheets here, one says Saints, one says Sinners. And I want us to say what we think they are like. What do we think a Saint would be like?
What do we think a Sinner would be like?
So which one do we think we are in? More importantly, which one do we think God would put us in?
Being a Saint
I want us to think of GOOD people from the Bible other than Jesus.
Let’s go through some people and ask ourselves whether they are saints or sinners.
They do some good things, but they also do bad things.
i.e. King David, fought Goliath, wrote Psalms, murdered someone. Stole someone else’s wife.
Moses, saved the people from slavery in Egypt. Murdered a guard, ran away from the job that God wanted him to do. Got angry at the people and forced them to drink molten gold.
The Disciple Peter. He was a good guy surely. He was a follower of Jesus. He walked on water. Promised never to desert Jesus even though everyone else would. Chopped off someone’s ear, ran away when Jesus needed him most. Betrayed Jesus three times.
The problem with being a saint is that it is really difficult to be that good ALL the time. I think if I was God I would want people to be good all the time and not just some of the time
Being a Sinner
So here is a question. If we want to be saints then we definitely don’t want to be a sinner. So I was wondering, how many people did Jesus call a sinner?
Because Jesus knew a lot of people, so how many of them did Jesus call sinners?
I checked it out...no one.
There is no one person that Jesus turned round and said, ‘You are a sinner.’
Other people called people sinners.
There were some people called scribes. And they used to hang about where Jesus was and say things like, ‘Why is Jesus hanging about with sinners?’
We kind of think that a sinner is someone who does bad things all the time.
And we don’t hang about with people that do bad things all the time.
But Jesus never thought it that way.
Jesus did believe in sin. To Jesus sin was the stuff that got between God and us.
Sin was the stuff that stopped us seeing that God loved us.
And what Jesus wanted to do was remove that stuff from us so that we saw we were friends with God again.
This is what it was like
Imagine a mum and she has cooked a great meal.
But you want to go out to play.
Your mum says, ‘You can go out to play. But don’t get dirty before the meal. You can’t eat a meal with dirty hands.’
So out you go and you have a great time, which means that when your mum calls you, you are pitch-black with dirt.
Now to those religious people if Mum was God then she was furious with you and refused to let you in the house and have your dinner. You broke her rules and you needed to be punished. That’s how they saw God and that’s how they saw sin.
But to Jesus when you came back all dirty your mum just laughed and says, ‘Go and wash your hands. You can’t eat a meal with dirty hands, it isn’t safe.’
To Jesus you hadn’t done anything to stop God from loving you. But you needed to get clean, and you were told to get clean again before you came into the house.
We look at Saints and Sinners.
Good guys and bad guys.
But I wonder if God does.
I wonder if God sees us as fallible, but worthy of love.
That’s why people get so excited about Easter. They don’t need to try so hard to be good all the time to get into God’s good books, because no one can be that good all the time.
And they don’t need to be worried about mistakes they have made. Because Jesus knows all the mistakes we make and he forgives us.
We can see that God knows we are not perfect, but believes we are worthy of his love, his help.
What do we do now?
So what happens next?
Well if God loves us, then I think God expects us to love back.
But how do we do that?
Well the example we are given is Jesus himself who taught us how to love.
Now the mistake is that we think that that example is the cross when Jesus died for us.
That is not the example Jesus gave us to follow. That is what Jesus did to show us how much he loved us.
But Jesus knew that we needed a different example.
We need to do love in simple things not spectacular things.
We like to be loved in simple things.
Imagine I was happily married to my wife.
Imagine I decided that I would only show her spectacular love. So I told her that I loved her on wedding anniversaries and her birthday, with big lavish presents. If I couldn’t do it in a spectacular way then I couldn’t do it at all.
That’s Ok I suppose...
But imagine instead that I tried every day in some simple way to show love.
Like on Saturday mornings I let her have a long lie in and gave her breakfast in bed.
Like when we went shopping I said, ‘Where do you want to shop?’
Like I made the dinner every now and again and automatically did the washing afterwards.
Or just, without thinking, saw that the house needed hovered and just did it instead of saying, ‘The house needs hovered.’ And think she should do it.
That’s what Jesus taught us to do.
One night the disciples had come back from a tough day out and their feet were smelly and dirty and needed washed. And Jesus just took a wash basin and a towel and washed their feet. And after he did it he said to them. ‘This is my example. Do as I have done. Simple acts of love to show you care.’
2 years ago I discovered I had had two heart attacks. It was a scary time. There I was in hospital for the first time as a patient. Didn't know what to expect, and each night at tea time, when all the other visitors would have left, my daughter would come in from work with two sandwiches and a cup of coffee. She would eat the sandwiches and have her coffee while I had hospital grub and she would share what happened in her day. It doesn't sound all that spectacular but it was the way she made what could have been a time of isolation, when I had a chance to think too much about what might have happened to me, and she brought it back to normal. Just by being there.
We have all felt that love...
For you it may be the soup your mum made for you when you were sad,
or the home made presents your dad made at Christmas.
It doesn't matter how small or ordinary it seems. It was special, because it showed us we were loved.
That is the love God shows to us.
That is the love God wants us to show to others.
That is why Easter is special.
That is why every day can be special.