We just celebrated another Easter and it was once again full with Holy Week services, bouncy houses, and egg hunts. Though there was much familiarity, there was also a different urgency to worship and the triumph of an empty tomb. To say that the past year has been crazy for the community of Kingwood and Kingwood United Methodist, in particular, would be understating the raw emotions of a bumpy several months. I believe we had around 200 families within the church flooded by Hurricane Harvey, and probably many more than that, considering folks associated with KUMC or frequent worshippers in our community. We have teachers, principals, parents, and students of KHS that found themselves moved 40 minutes away and stacked on top of another high school. And of course, our church has experienced an improbable and upsetting transition with pastoral staff. A treasured Senior Pastor retires, followed by the loss of newly appointed Senior Pastor, Scott Dornbush, to a fatal heart attack this year. Now, we find ourselves in another transition awaiting a new pastor to join us this summer.
“Very early that morning,” Mary Magdalene and other disciples found their way to the tomb. They were undoubtedly vexed with emotion, stress, and the difficulty of the last few days. Emotions that many of us clearly understand. What they found radically changed everything for their circumstances. The resurrection took the distress, hopelessness, and pain and exploded their myopia to see an expanding revolution of a kingdom that will never be defeated.
The Resurrection is truly the lynchpin of our faith. Paul bluntly lays this out in his letter to the jacked up town of Corinth:
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. – 1 Corinthians 15:14-17
Without a literal, physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus and the promise of resurrection found in the truth of Easter….our faith means nothing. If death is still final then we are still held subject to the one end that no one can outrun—father time. There is no answer to cancer, school shootings, or evil in the world. There is no answer to addiction or broken marriages. And if we are honest with our selves, this whole “…try really hard and we can make it out of this thing I am facing”—it ain’t working.
There is no self-help book, no dieting plan, nothing that will ever bring salvation like an empty tomb.
On Easter morning, over 600 people from the community gathered to worship in Town Center at sunrise. Something we do every year, but this year it carried poignant intentionality. A park that was completely underwater 7 months ago, now the proper setting for Resurrection worship. We looked on at a cross, recovered from Hurricane Harvey debris. And appropriately, right? You see, the cross in Jesus day was meant to kill and now it is a symbol of life and hope that can never be taken away because God raised Christ from the dead.
It is our Torchy’s water line, or our Astros World Championship. Proving that we are #kingwoodstrong and #houstonstrong and that we can come through this.
You see the good news of Easter is when all seemed lost… And we could not rebuild, we could not pull through no matter the strength or resolve of our leaders and heroes, when we could not save ourselves…
God did and he did in a way that brought hope that is unlike any other. An empty tomb speaks into our disease, sin, half-rebuilt homes, grief, and darkest moments and declares Love Wins. A hope that cannot be conquered.
It is completely hurricane proof. It is bigger than the grave.
He is Risen. Amen.