Easter Sunrise 7:00 AM Service
The Resurrection of Our Lord – 4/9/2023
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
It's good to see you all again this early Easter morning! When was the last time you celebrated a big family reunion? I remember numerous reunions and reconnecting with immediate and extended family for a few days. There was always conversation, fun, laughter, and something of prime importance: great food. That was one of the best things about these gatherings. In our mobile society, it is even more challenging for families to get together when numerous miles separate us. Planning months ahead of time is required, and families need to prioritize it and save for it.
I am delighted that many of you traveled here this Easter, joining with family members and the Body of Christ, your spiritual and eternal family. During our sermon series this Lenten season, entitled Promised Treasures, we discussed how much God loves us by reaching out to touch us through our ears with His Word and our other physical senses like smelling, seeing, tasting, and feeling. We have referenced such things as ashes, salt, water, light, and wood.
Well, today, you will metaphorically taste milk and honey. When Israel longed for the food of the Promised Land, it was called the land of milk and honey. Families in the Bible often gathered for high feasts like Passover and Pentecost. Thousands of years later, we celebrate feasts such as Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.
Today, on this feast of feasts, we celebrate Jesus Christ conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave through His glorious resurrection from the dead. And through all that, He promises you the ultimate prize: an eternal inheritance in heaven. St. Peter even calls it a new heaven and a new earth.
In the Early Church, Easter Day was the first time newly baptized and instructed Christians ate and drank the Lord's Supper. When new Christians were formally welcomed into the church, they were greeted, given a holy kiss, and congratulated for being released from the slavery of sin to be free children of God.
However, right before their first Communion, when they received the body and blood of Jesus, they were first given a cup of water mixed with milk and honey. It reminded those Christians that whenever you partake of the Lord's Supper, you are also partaking in an eternal feast in the promised land of heaven.
Therefore, being in worship is a really big deal on Easter. It is like a prodigal son returning to his waiting father, where a rich feast is prepared. When someone is welcomed into God's household of faith, it is a family reunion and a time of feasting.
The prophet Isaiah recalls a family reunion in today's Old Testament reading: "On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine" (Isaiah 25:6). The banquet Isaiah describes is the eternal feast of heaven, in which all of God's people will partake someday. You are invited to this glorious banquet today because someone opened the door for you. That is Jesus Christ, your crucified Lord, who is not dead but is risen and victorious!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Jesus has once and for all destroyed the "covering that is cast over all people, the veil that is spread over all nations" (Isaiah 25:7). Jesus has swallowed up and eaten death forever by rising from the dead!
Heaven still awaits you, but heaven is never so far away that we cannot taste it. When someone confesses that they believe in Jesus Christ, they have already crossed from death to life (John 5:24).
Furthermore, you are never closer to your loved ones in heaven than when we gather here to have Christ's Supper. Why? Because we have crossed over from the river of death into life. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they were freed from death and slavery in Egypt. Then, when they crossed the Jordan River, they entered the Promised Land of Milk and Honey.
Dear friends, those who have been baptized into Christ, have been appropriately catechized in the faith, have publicly confessed what God has graciously given them in their baptism through Christ, and live in repentance of their sins, you are once again invited to eat and drink of the sweetness of this joyous day. You have crossed out of death into life because Jesus conquered sin and death for you! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
You've also stepped out of your world and entered God's world. You have your share of death, pain, and sin outside these walls. You have trials and anxieties, but soon all that falls short compared to what heaven will be. Heaven is your promised land. It is perfect and peaceful, where the feast never ends.
However, until we enter those eternal halls, we must live with the frailties of age, illness, and death. We live with broken and strained relationships. We live with the grief of a loved one no longer with us. We live with job loss or a dissolved plan for education. We are weighed down with daily worry about family, home, or work. As a result, we all long for rest while many troubles remain out of our control.
When God told Moses through the burning bush that he would lead God's people out of slavery and into the Promised Land of milk and honey, Israel could not wait to enter it. However, soon they were sinful and rebellious. Further, many did not enter it when they blamed God and Moses for their troubles. Until they entered the Promised Land, they did not like living in tents and moving whenever God told them to move. They were tired of the same food, longed for clean water, and wanted more variety. So they grumbled, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die here, Moses?" They were so angry that they were ready to stone Moses and tell God life was better in Egypt.
Sometimes life feels long, and it's easy to grow impatient. Where can I find relief from this problem? Where can I find the strength to move forward? You need God's sweet milk and honey at those times. Receive it where it is always offered: in God's word and sacraments. Life is often frustrating, making me think I deserve more from this life than God has provided. But do I want to sit in on that rebellion?
Only one thing is needed, dear friend: the bread of life, Jesus Christ. Only He can feed your hungry soul in the wilderness as we await the promised land of heaven. Just as God gave Israel manna daily to survive in the wilderness, God still gives you the bread of life, Jesus. This table provides a foretaste of heaven. Your journey is incomplete until you die or the Lord comes again. However, as you await the promised land of heaven, God promises to feed you every time you receive His Word and Sacrament.
Friendship and family reunions are great, but they never last. But God's kingdom is eternal, and our ultimate victory is won. God offers you something to eat here far better than anything the world offers. Here, you taste the fruit of the Promised Land: milk and honey.
Eat from heaven's table now! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Your risen Lord gives you His life-giving word and feeds your hungry soul with His body and blood. No earthly family reunion can beat that meal! Yes, enjoy our Easter breakfast and your Easter dinner with friends and family later, but remember, nothing beats this feast of the Promised Land, giving you a foretaste of heaven. In Jesus' name. Amen.