There is little doubt, that in the history of our grand religion, no holy day is as important as Easter. The day of resurrection that occurred on the first day of the week nearly 2000 years ago. So important was this event to our understanding that we refer to Sunday as, “The Lord’s Day.” Every Sunday contains some element of joy and beauty that sits apart in our conscious because of what happened one morning long ago.
The very notion that God defeated death still boggles the mind. Those who consider themselves to have evolved beyond such childish beliefs suggest that we hold onto superstitions and magic if we continue to believe such things. Yet I would let them know that our beliefs begin at a more ridiculous place. While Easter may be the most important of our holy days, Easter can only be because of Good Friday. The two belong together and cannot be separated. One does not exist without the other. Therefore at this time of year, we remember that we hold onto the notion of which Paul made clear so long ago, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:22-23).
The basis and foundation of our faith is utterly ridiculous, it is still a stumbling block and it is still foolish! We preach that a man with a small following was crucified by the Roman Empire, abandoned by his own followers, and mocked by his religious leaders. We preach that in that act of dying he somehow saved us from that which separated us from God. Then when Sunday rolled around, a stone had rolled away from a tomb, and that man, who died utterly alone, was vindicated by the One he called “Father.” “He became obedient unto death … Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.” (Phil 2:8,9).
O yes, it is still foolishness to say aloud. I invite all those who wish to mock me to do so. Call me a fool if you will, but know that it is a title I relish! For I am a fool for Christ who is a fool for me! There is nothing I’d rather be called than a fool by one who thinks I’m foolish, for my faith does not stand on what I see, or what I know. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). And this is the gospel of which I am not ashamed to be a fool.
It was with this faith that I ventured into the foreign lands of the Deep South believing that I would encounter other such fools, and that together we would be foolish enough to believe that a God who raises the dead could raise our little church from the dead! On my fourth celebration of our greatest holiday in this place we still rise up. Death is far behind us, but God is not done giving us life! In the first three months of this year twenty people have joined our church. Twenty others have declared themselves fools for the Christ who is a fool for them.
Together now we declare to a city and a place that wonders what hope there is, that the God who raises the dead is working in Albany. I was told that our church had no chance. I was told that if we wanted any chance at all we’d have to leave the downtown. I was told that the only way to grow a church was to abandon our liturgy and music. I was told that I was a fool for leaving California to come to a place so saturated in death. And I stood firm in my Easter foolishness, because it is:
On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.