Resurrection Day Testimony – April 16, 2017

Resurrection Day Message at Southside UMC Sunrise Service

What does the resurrection mean to me this year? It is hope.

Two weeks ago with my family we celebrated the life of my name’s sake—my uncle Guy Leslie Kirby. He was the youngest of my father’s siblings, just turning 60 in February. He was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I have ever met. He was always interested in what was going on in our lives, and whoever he met he gave the same undivided attention. Saying “see you later” to him was a really sad day for my family, but knowing we will meet again brings me comfort. I have hope because Jesus was resurrected to give us eternal life. I also know that it’s okay to feel sorrow—even Jesus wept. But he didn’t weep for loss, he knew his friend would live again. He wept with Mary and Martha and he weeps with me because he cares that much for us. That is our comfort—that is our hope. My uncle is living in glory—free of pain—no longer weak, but strong and full of life like he always was. My soul finds rest in God alone and my hope comes from Him.

Resurrection Sunday means hope to me. If you know me, you know I love scripture, and I love to research, so I spent some time this week with my concordance looking up and writing out all the verses on hope that I could find. I enjoyed this exercise, it brought me comfort and peace, but I think I was mostly doing it to avoid thinking and writing about the loss I just described. A few weeks before my uncle died, I told my small group that I felt a peace about his illness, and I knew that peace was from God, but it made me sad because I knew that if God was giving me peace the end was near. I prayed for a miracle, and I know that we did receive a miracle because we got 12 months, and most people with pancreatic cancer live less than 6 months. I know God gave us that extra time, so we could have peace—so we could have hope.

Hebrews 10:23 says “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” And Titus 1:2 says “A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.

God is faithful. I believe in what He promises, and He promises eternal life. This changes everything for me. It gives me an eternal prospective. Jesus is close, holding my hand. As the hymn says “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face; and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim; In the light of His glory and grace.” I was born a worrier, but as I look more and more to Jesus and less and less to worldly troubles, my anxious mind finds peace. Because of His promises and His faithfulness, I have hope. The writer of Hebrews says we hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. Jesus’ Resurrection gives me the strength to grasp the wheel, pointing the bow straight to heaven, slicing through stormy seas or calm waters.

As I mentioned, I spent much of the week procrastinating on preparing this testimony, but I planned to immerse myself in the hope verses Thursday and have this completed Friday morning. I got the hope verses completed, but Friday, as I was reading and writing in my journal, my son sliced open his finger with his birthday present—a new, very sharp pocket knife. We spent the entire day at the emergency room.

When I got home, I checked my e-mail and found a newsletter from Charley Reeb, a college friend, who is a Methodist preacher in St. Pete.

The newsletter included a link to three of his Easter sermons. As I read them, I saw right away my procrastinating had actually been for God’s purposes. The words of his sermon spoke to me—perhaps, it was that in my family, the family that included my Uncle, we like to be right and we like to have the last word, but also because it reiterated the hope I have because God resurrected Jesus to save me and to save my uncle and to save you.

Here is a little of what Charley said. “God has the last word! The worst thing is never the last thing.”

“If you allow the truth of Easter to penetrate your soul this morning you will experience a hope that will bring healing, a peace that will bring joy, and a life that will be worth living.”

“God has the last word in death.”

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26

So, this Resurrection Sunday, hope embraces my sadness, just as Jesus embraces me, reminding me that because I believe in Him, I have eternal life, my uncle has eternal life. It encourages me to give more love, more grace, and more joy.

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