Acts 16:16-34

John 17:20-26

Bad News and Good News

Easter 7

June 2 2019

 

The Lord has risen!

            Alleluia!

He has risen indeed!

 

This is the glorious truth of Easter – the glorious truth of the Christian faith — – that we serve a Lord who was crucified for our sins – and yet has risen again so we can have the promise of new life with Him in heaven – as well as new life here and now.

 

The Lord has risen!

            Alleluia!

He has risen indeed!

 

The marvelous message of Easter and the Easter season – the marvelous message of the Christian faith – is that

 

 it does not matter how bad things get here on earth –

it does not matter how bad things may become in our lives –

 it does not matter how hopeless situations may appear –

it does not matter how lonely or depressed we may get –

it does not matter how much violence or poverty there may be in the world – or even in own lives –

 

What matters is:

 

The Lord has risen!

            Alleluia!

He has risen indeed!

 

We have a message of hope – a message of new life – in fact the only life – to share with the world.

 

A message of hope

A message of new life

A message of salvation

A message that things can be – and should be different.

 

When we look around us – or look at our own lives and own experiences – and see hopelessness – death – addictions —  violence – poverty –ruined lives –

 

            We can have a different perspective –

            A different message –

 

A perspective and message that the violence, hatred, poverty, death, and hopelessness we see all around our world – and many times even in our own lives — can be changed and replaced by the will of God for love, life, hope and peace.

 

            The Lord has risen!

            Alleluia!

He has risen indeed!

         

            We are the Church.

 

            The people who have the responsibility to take the message of Christ – the message of salvation and hope – that message of new life — seriously for ourselves –

 

claim that salvation and hope and new life Christ offers us –

 

and then take that message of salvation and hope and new life into the world that is desperate to hear it and experience it.   

 

During this Easter season we are taking a hard look at what it means to be the Church – and what it means to be members of the Church

 

            On this final Sunday of the Easter season, we need to look one more time at the message of good news we have as Christians – how we can believe it – and how we can take that message of good news into a world that sometimes seems filled with bad news.

 

            There nay be a lot of bad news in the world – but we as Christians have a lot of good news to share with the world – and we need to be busy declaring the good news of Jesus Christ –

 

the Gospel –

the Good News –

yes – even  God’s News –

to a “bad news” world!

 

Our scripture passages for today certainly seem to have a lot of bad news!

 

In our Gospel lesson there is bad news for the disciples.

Jesus has just told them He was leaving them – going back to God – back to “the Father”.

Sure – He told them He was sending “The Advocate”

  • “The Paraclete-
  • the Holy Spirit –

 

But – like most of us probably would have reacted – the only thing that probably stuck in their minds was that Jesus –

the one they had followed for 3 years and staked their life on –

was leaving

 

And what would happen to them?

 

Yea – bad news!

 

In our Epistle lesson Paul and company are in Philippi – and Paul and Silas end up in jail. 

 

Not good news at all.

 

Here they were preaching and healing and doing God’s work – even casting a demon out of a demon posessed girl and freeing her from the grips of slavery – and what happens?

 

They end up in jail!

 

Not good news.

 

Bad news.

 

We know what bad news is like – don’t we?

 

Every one of us have experienced getting bad news.

In fact – most of us learn how to live with it every day.

 

Bad news.

 

Bad news in our lives.

 

“Your loved one has a serious illness”

 

“Your loved one is dying”

 

“Your friend is dying”

 

“Your loved one has died”

 

“Your friend has died”

 

Bad news.

 

“You have a serious heart disease’

 

“You have cancer”

 

“There is nothing more we can do”

 

Bad news.

 

“We’re having to downsize our company – your job has been cut”  

 

“We’re having to cut our costs – we can no longer offer medical insurance.”

 

“We’re having to cut back on your hours.”

 

Bad news.

 

You and your husband – or you and your wife – just seem to fight all the time and just cant get along.

 

Your children are rebellious – and you suspect are hanging out with the wrong crowd and making wrong choices

 

Bad news. 

 

Your parents don’t trust you – and are always on your case about where you are going or what you are doing.

 

Bad news.

 

There are so many ways our lives seem to filled – and almost overflowing – with bad news.

 

And when we look at the lives of others – and the news of the world – it does not get better.

 

Sickness

Poverty

Addictions

Hunger

Homelessness

Violence

 

The list goes on and on.

 

Bad news.

 

When we turn on the evening news – many times the news is bad.

When we read the newspaper – much of the news in that paper is bad news.

 

Violence

War

American soldiers – not protecting – but abusing – prisoners.

 

Bad news.

 

The people of Haiti – or Indonesia – or Bangla Desh – or Somalia – or so many other places in our world — starving and dieing – not because they do not have the resources to make a living – but because their governments will not let them use their resources – or forces them to give all they have to the government.

 

Bad news.

 

Yea – we know what bad news is all about!

 

Sometimes we may want to just throw up our hands and say:

 

“What’s the use?”

“What’s the answer?”

 

The disciples may have felt that way as Jesus was explaining His departure to them.

Paul and Silas would have certainly been justified if they had felt that way in the jail there at Philippi.    

 

Well – there is an answer.

There is a reason.

 

And that answer – that reason – is the wonderful fact that Jesus lived – died – and rose again – and brings new life – new hope – good news – God’s news – to situations filled with bad news.

 

Our scripture passages do not just give bad news –

 

Let’s look at “the rest of the story”

 

Jesus – even though He is returning to heaven – is careful to pray for His followers – to pray for their unity – to pray for their fellowship with Him and God – and the Spirit.  Even though He will no longer be present with them – He is quick to point out that His presence will be protecting – strengthening – guiding – them as they go about doing His will.

 

And that is indeed good news.

 

Paul and Silas – even in their jail cell – are able to worship – and in a great display of power God frees them in an earthquake – and the jailer and his family are converted to Christianity.

 

And that indeed is good news.

 

In the midst of the “bad  news” there was “good news” –

The “good news” of the work of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of God’s will for peace – healing – salvation == and changed lives.

God’s news.

 

Good news.

 

Even today – here and now – there can be good news in the midst of the bad news

 

In the midst of – and in response to – all the bad news 

 

There is good news

God’s news!

The good new of Jesus Christ.

 

The disciples situation may have looked hopeless – but Jesus brought hope.

 

Paul and Silas may have looked in a hopeless situation in jail in Philippi —

But Jesus bought good news – the Gospel – God’s news! 

 

We have been bombarded with a lot of images lately of bad news from behind bars.

Here’s an image of good news – God’s news – from behind bars.

 

The simple truth is that our lives may be filled with bad news –

The world may be filled with bad news –

But God can bring good news to the worst of the bad news situations.

 

Even in the worst of situations Jesus is praying for us.

Even in the worst of situations Jesus can strengthen us.

Even in  the worst of situations Jesus can bring good news – new hope – new life – new possibilities.

 

Yes – – the message of Easter is that

 

it does not matter how bad things get here on earth –

it does not matter how bad things may become in our lives –

 it does not matter how hopeless situations may appear –

it does not matter how lonely or depressed we may get –

it does not matter how much violence or poverty there may be in the world – or even in own lives –

 

What matters is:

 

The Lord has risen!

            Alleluia!

He has risen indeed!

 

This is indeed good news!

 

To the bad news of poverty – violence – war – sickness – death – there is the good news of hope – new life – and love – through Jesus Christ!

 

It is up to us to take that good news into a world that needs to see it – hear it – experience it.

 

It is up to us to be God’s messengers of good news to a “bad news” world –

To be God’s messengers of hope to a world filled with hopelessness. 

To celebrate God’s good news in a world that seems to have very little to celebrate.

 

Take the good news of God into the world

Make a difference in the world for God’s glory.

Do God’s will in the world – and see what miracles can be done.

 

See how much good news you can bring to a “bad news” world,

 

I read not long ago about a young boy who brought good news to a situation that looked like nothing but bad news.

The boys’ mother tells that it was one of the hottest days of the dry season. There had been no rain in almost a month.

The crops were dying.

 Cows had stopped giving milk.

The creeks and streams were long gone back into the earth.

The mother was in the kitchen making lunch when she saw her six-year-old son, Billy, walking towards the woods.

He was walking with a great effort – trying to be as still as possible. Minutes after he disappeared into the woods, he came running out again, toward the house. Moments later, however, he was once again walking with that slow purposeful stride toward the woods.

 This went on for an hour.

Finally, the mother couldn’t take it any longer.

She crept out of the house and followed him, being very careful not to be seen.

He was cupping both hands in front of him as he walked, being very careful not to spill the little bit of water he held in them.

Branches and thorns slapped his little face but he did not try to avoid them. He had a much bigger purpose.

Suddenly, several large deer loomed in front of him.

Billy walked right up to them.

His mother almost screamed for him to get away.

A huge buck with threatening antlers was dangerously close.

But the buck didn’t move as Billy knelt down.

And his mother saw a tiny fawn laying on the ground, obviously suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion, lift its head with great effort to lap up the water cupped in her boy’s hand.

When the water was gone, Billy jumped up to run back to the house and his mother hid behind a tree.

She followed him back to the house to a spigot where we had shut off the water. Billy opened it all the way and a small trickle began to creep out. He knelt there, letting the drip, drip, slowly fill his makeshift “cup.” When he finally had his hands full of water, he looked up and saw his mother there.

As he walked back to the woods, she joined him with a small pot of water from the kitchen.

She let him tend to the fawn.

She stayed away.

It was his job.

She stood on the edge of the woods watching her  child working to save another life.

As the tears rolled down her face, they were suddenly joined by other drops.

And more drops!

It was raining!

Yes – even in the bad news of the dry heat and deprivation of water 00 there could be good news!

Billy did what he could to bring God’s good news to a situation of bad news.

It is up to each of us to bring God’s good news to situations of bad news.

I is up to us to show God’s love –

hope –

new life –

 good news –

 to every situation in the world that needs to see and experience it.   

It is up to us to take the good news that it does not matter how bad things get it does not matter how bad things may become in our lives –

 it does not matter how hopeless situations may appear –

it does not matter how lonely or depressed we may get –

it does not matter how much violence or poverty there may be in the world – or even in own lives –

 

What matters is:

 

The Lord has risen!

            Alleluia!

He has risen indeed!

 

For every situation of bad news in our lives and out world there can be the good news of Jesus Christ.

 

Believe it.

Share it.     

 

It  is indeed good news!

 

AMEN