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To friends and family of First Pres, and all strangers,    

     There’s a passage in the bible that almost everyone has heard before. They are Paul’s words he wrote in a letter to a little church in the Greek city of Corinth. Today, we call it first Corinthians chapter 13.

Yes, it’s the “love” passage.  Go ahead, look it up again now. I may be a little biased, but I believe it’s the best definition of real love in all literature. Paul echoes Jesus when he says this love is the most excellent thing of all.      

So, what’s that got to do with Easter? Well, here’s the amazing thing. Chapter 15 (two chapters later) is all about resurrection. It’s about how resurrection can be real in our lives. Paul, very intentionally, puts love before resurrection. In other words, in our lives, love has to come before resurrection.    

What does that mean to us? Firstly, it’s a reminder of God’s great love for us. For all creation.  The Bible reminds us that we are not created to be temporary beings, living only 50, or 75 years on this earth, but we are created to be eternal beings. Why? Because we are created in the image of God. And, God is eternal.

I love how Paul puts it: In this life, we see as though we are looking into a foggy mirror. In the next life, the mirror will be wiped clean and we will see everything perfectly. (1 Cor 13 verse 12) This kind of resurrection is huge to the message of Easter.  

But just as importantly for Jesus, there is resurrection in our love for each other. For our neighbour, for the stranger, and even love for our enemy. Paul says live in these ways that I am listing for you: patience, kindness, forgiveness, hope, and faith. They are the ways of Jesus. Love each other, and there will be miracles. Because, love comes before resurrection.

When you look at the miracles of Christ, Jesus healed people. But first he came to them in their pain, and touched them. Love came first. Jesus transformed people, but first, he reached out them and said “you are a child of God”. Jesus resurrected people.

There’s an amazing story in Mark chapter 5 (go ahead, look it up) where Jesus raised a little girl who had died. Her father begged Jesus to come and see her. Jesus was on his way back to Judea, but changed his course, changed his whole agenda, and travelled a great distance to answer this father’s plea. And when he saw her, he raised her from the dead.  How all that went down, I can’t say exactly. But here’s what we know. Where there is love, and caring, and compassion, and kindness, there is resurrection.    

So here’s the deal: I have seen miracles I can’t explain. Healing. Answered prayer. Things beyond explanation. And, it’s awesome and wonderful when that happens. And I thank God for that.   

But I’ll say this. I’ve seen a lot more miracles happen when people love their neighbour. And when we finally find a way to forgive an enemy, there is an explosion of resurrection that changes us forever.    

This is the great mystery and the great paradox of Easter. Yes, God will do what God will do, and nothing is impossible for God. This God who created the universe and saw that it was good. This God who knows each of us by name, and has a purpose for our lives, and wills us to live forever. We embrace the mystery of the empty tomb.   

But in the meantime, what we all can do, when we leave here today, is live love. Try it. Help someone. Forgive someone. Include someone. Befriend someone. Share what you have with someone.

And then, make you own mind up. Is resurrection real? Can dead things come back to life?

May the peace of the risen Christ be with you.

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