The message that changes us, brings us everlasting life in the here and now.

My wife and I love movies. We watch at least one movie every week. is something about a movie that captures us. That combination of the shots, the emotions, the cast, the setting, the sound, the creativity and the music. But what separates good movies from truly good ones is the story line or plot. Stories are powerful, they are arguably the most important thing in a good movie. As humans we gather on holidays and tell stories of what we go through; we love telling our own with passion and suspense, we laugh at other people’s funny ones. It is good to think and reflect about our stories, and also to reflect on other people’s stories. I went online and went through this website that collects real-life moments and here are some I found interesting:

Today, as I watched my oldest daughter graduate at the top of her class from Harvard Medical School, my wife reminded me that we had her when we were only seventeen.

Today, at a jazz club in San Francisco I saw a man and woman enjoying a drink together. The woman was a dwarf and the man must have been 6 feet tall. Later in the evening they went out onto the dance floor. The man got down on his knees so they could slow dance together. They danced the rest of the night.

Today at 7AM I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went in to work. At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too. A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.

Today, when I slipped on the wet tile floor a boy in a wheelchair caught me before I slammed my head on the ground. He said, “Believe it or not, that’s almost exactly how I injured my back 3 years ago.”

Today, after a 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said, “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”

You know that when we gather here everything Sunday what we really do is get together to talk to God and also hear a story told and written by people who trusted God? Part of the reason why we come here is to remind ourselves of Bible stories, sometimes adventurous, other times depressing, often uplifting, other times confusing. The most dramatic story in our tradition is the death and resurrection of Jesus. We hear it so many times that it can almost become a fable, a myth or tale. Granted, it is not easy to believe in the raising of dead bodies. I do not hear of that too often at least. Putting aside that the story is a hard to assimilate, what would that event represent to the followers of this new Jewish fad?

The death must have definitely painful, like any death is. This one in particular, given the crucifixion, was gory and traumatic. An innocent man, advocating for the rights of the weak and outcast and for a life of simplicity and justice, was brutally tortured. Is this it? The valley of the death had arrived on those following the great Messiah who had been put down like any criminal of his time. But that was not it…The story goes that this death was only the beginning of the climax that would reach its peak three days after the crucifixion. In less than 72 hours there was rumor that Jesus was no longer dead. Jesus had survived the grave somehow. The story of this Jesus became a hit in those days. Most importantly, the group he had founded, called The Way, began to grow more and more, and this group was well-known by the love they had for everyone else, especially among themselves.

Let’s fast forward 2000 years ago. The 21st easily, thus, would it have meant something that transcends the very event. Is this Jesus Easter story truly about the supernatural or is it about God putting a seal on the message of His Son?

I will share 3 things with you what I’ve come to believe about this event:

– The death and resurrection of our Messiah is a clear reminder of stuff that extends beyond our comprehension (faith) today and tomorrow. It calls us to embrace a life by faith where we rest assured that God is in control of everything, including death.

Jesus goes through what everyone goes through but then He lives again! We are here for a short period and we will then face the unknown. It is an unknown that often triggers anxiety and stress. When someone we know approaches the end, we somehow sympathize with the fear of the end. The resurrection is a metaphorical and possibly physical reminder that we shall fear not the end, this universe has a master architect that has control of what we do and do not know and understand.

– The death and resurrection set an example of justice, one that more than punitive exists to redeem and restore. I am not sure how I could reconcile so many injustices and my own need for redemption without the idea of God intervening on Earth and actually balancing the awful things that happen to us in this journey. Scriptures teach us that God’s Spirit is in a constant process of redemption of our lives, if we so allow it, and what lies ahead is good in spite of the difficulties. Jesus was a tender figure, but he was also someone concerned about justice on earth. The dramatic death and wondrous resurrection help us remember our teacher and savior’s example to seek justice by embracing, helping and redeeming what is broken before criticizing, judging or rejecting.

– The resurrection of Christ is a symbol of a message of love that can bring life to people without hope, faith or purpose. Jesus has a unique place in history because of the powerful message of loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus teaches us that true freedom and eternal life are not ideals that can be gained by a political process or clever economics, but rather is one that is achieved when we love God and our neighbors.

When that is our true north we love others the right way, we become more fulfilled century man does not swallow this ancient story so because we were made to love and others become better people because they were made to be loved. We humans operate better when we love and are loved.

Does the resurrection sound difficult to believe? I would agree with that. How many times do I read these passages on resurrection and scratch my head to figure out how to think about it. Whether you think it was a physical or metaphorical event, the message of this teacher resurrected the lives of the very disciples who forsake him in his hardest times. Peter, whose letter we read today, believed this message wholeheartedly. He followed his master as the other disciples did until the end of his days. Peter was captured and crucified for spreading this story as well, like other disciples. The story indeed did not stop with Jesus. Nothing could have stopped the message of faith, justice and love that Christ told. So others have died after that, and others will continue to die for this powerful reason.

The story of Christ started when God created this universe. It had a climax when Jesus taught the way to live, when he died and when his disciples experienced his resurrection, which in turn changed them. But the story does not end there. The story continues with the way you and I receive and live this message. This is a message that changes us, brings us everlasting life in the here and now. This is a message that fills us with faith, leads us to justice and teaches us how to love. This is a story with a message worth living by, and according to Peter, who also died on a cross, it is a story worth dying for.