Apr 17, 2006

so how was your easter, peeps?

So this morning I had the chance to share the Easter message using Scripture, stories, art, video, music, the Gospel of Judas, archeology, the Da Vinci Code, and... Marshmallow Peeps.

Peeps have an interesting history.

  • Back in 1953 it took 27 hours to make a peep… now modern technology can make 2-4 million a day.
  • It used to be said that the eyes were made out of tar, but it’s not true – they’re made out of wax.
  • Would you believe 30 percent of people who eat peeps like them stale? Ew!
  • Some freeze them, roast them, or microwave them. Some even use them for pizza toppings. Double ew!
  • Each peep has 32 calories with 7 grams of sugar a peep (but they're "fat free" so eat up).
  • The company that makes Peeps is called “Just Born’s” and is located in the city of Bethlehem, PA.
When I was a kid I used to yearn for Peeps. In fact, when I got my first hard earned paycheck it was right around Easter time… and so I remember going out to the store and buying a bunch of peeps, some comic books, and a watermelon (these were all things that were usually special treats). And I remember sitting under a tree on a nice hot day, reading my Superboy comics while eating watermelon (and the watermelon juice would drool down into the comic books), and then finishing it off with a glob of peeps. (Aren’t you hungry, now?)

The catch was that back in the day Peeps were a special treat because they were seasonal… you couldn’t get them except at Easter. These days, though, we can get them year round. There are Easter peeps, as well as Christmas peeps, Valentine’s Day peeps, Halloween peeps, patriotic peeps… you name it! Peeps are available all year round… not just during the Easter season. Even though most people assume so.

Similarly, we find the same issue with Easter. Is Easter just a fluffy event on the calendar? You know, where we start wearing pastel colors and buy a new outfit and attend a church service and sing some songs about the resurrection of a guy who walked the earth 2,000 years ago? Or is there a context for Easter that is available all year round?

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5, NASB)

When you read that, I imagine you’ll respond in at least one of three ways…

  • Convinced (your life seems to glow it)
  • Believing (your mind seems to know it)
  • Skeptical (your questions seem to show it)

Which raises a question about questions… are they okay to have? There are a lot of questions about Jesus these days… a lot of alleged “scandal.”

  • The Gospel of Judas asserts to be "the secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover.” Essentially, it tries to soften the blow of who Judas was by stating that Jesus asked Judas to turn him in because he needed help getting rid of the outer shell of his body so he can really be who he's supposed to be.
  • An FSU scientist claims that when Jesus walked on water it was actually ice. That’s an interesting theory when you consider the boat of disciples. Unfortunately, he said "I get hate e-mail on the average every three minutes." s a side note, this kind of reaction to someone with questions makes me a bit sick… this isn’t how Christians are called to respond.
  • The Da Vinci Code is also very popular and questions the very foundation of the church’s history and perspective. Basically the idea is a big conspiracy theory that the church had a secret agenda to protect itself and its beliefs, and so a number of theoretical clues are hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. It claims that he belonged to a secret society (that he never actually did belong to), and that Jesus had a wife.

    Jesus does have a wife, by the way… the church. And he’s never cheated on his bride.

    I can give you a bunch of facts as to why the claims in this book are false, but I’d rather point you towards a resource a couple of friends of mine wrote: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE DA VINCI CODE

    As a side note, The Da Vinci Code is a very fun book and has a lot of historical facts twisted into fiction, much like a movie many of you may have seen called “National Treasure” starring Nicholas Cage. That’s a movie that claims that our society is built upon secret codes that are found on our money and the constitution, to name a few.

    Sound familiar? Yet no one went out after watching that and started denouncing the government… at least, for that reason. No one started looking at their money as a secret treasure map.

    I really am excited about the fact that we are going to have the chance to have conversations with people about Jesus because of something happening in our culture.

Have you ever noticed these things always happen before Easter? If we never open the door up to ask questions then we never get the chance to pursue truth.

Author Dan Brown says: “My hope for the Da Vinci Code was, in addition to entertaining people, that it might serve as an open door for readers to begin their own explorations and rekindle their interest in topics of faith.”

The possibility that things may be happening out of our control is disturbing. The idea of a conspiracy theory is comforting because it suggests that human agencies are at work... and so we have somebody to blame or somebody to join. It’s almost easier to accept that we made it all up than it is to believe in a God who is crazy about us and loves us in spite of our sin… and longs to redeem us.

A nice side benefit of all of these alleged scandals is that people today are getting back to the roots of their truth. People are open to and looking for a new interpretation of Christianity… not just the historical one that says it all started in the first century A.D.

The story of Easter actually begins a bit further back than we think.

  • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
  • Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:6)
  • When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6)
  • And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. (Genesis 3:22-23)

Let’s hit pause for a moment… for many of us, this is where the story ends. We feel this disconnect with God and don’t know why. God could have left the story there… But He decided to do something else and it’s pretty stunning.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103: 8-14)

That’s what you want in a God when you have messed up your life. A God who proclaims, “I want to forgive you and I want to wash you clean… even thought your hands are so dirty… and I want to call you child and I want you to call me Father. And I want you to know what real love is all about… real justice is all about…”

And so time went by… many prophets came along, telling us that one day rescue would come… and some became skeptical, some believed, and some were convinced of it… And all of creation waited… and waited… placing faith in hope… waiting as God prepared the landscape.

And one day a baby’s cries were heard in a cave in Bethlehem…
And that baby became a boy and that boy became a man…
God became like us so that we could become like him.

And on Thursday… we remember that he ate his last supper with his best friends – one of which betrayed him according to ancient prophecy…

And on Friday… his body was broken and blood was spilled… and he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

And on Saturday… silence…

And then... Sunday. Resurrection. Hope. Redemption.

This day - Easter - didn't just happen one time 20 centuries ago nor is it just something we’re to recognize on the calendar. Easter is always happening… it’s not seasonal but is available all year round. God knew we'd blow it in Genesis 3 and yet he still chose to make us in Genesis 1 & 2. In other words, Good Friday and Easter were always a part of his plan because he is absolutely crazy about you and I and longs for us to stop feeling disconnected… regain our place as a child of God… and be able to call God our Father again.

If you’re like me I need a God who can get into the mess of my life. I need a God who can show up in the midst of pain and suffering… brokenness and sin… when relationships are struggling or you’re up to you ears in little kids and have lost every bit of control you can have… a God who enters into reality and makes a difference in our life.

I challenge anyone with a shrunk down God and a little itty bitty Easter to decode the real conspiracy story… that God gave his only son so that our lives could be a part of his great story.

He knows your name… and he’s been calling your name this whole time.

That may make us feel a bit smaller than we’d like… but he gave his only son so that our lives could be a part of his great story.


kaitie t. said...

awesome easter message!

Katie said...

great post Tony, wonderful, bringing it all into focus

Jon Knapp said...

Easter is always happening . . . Amen.

Friar Tuck said...

were the pictures on the screen while you shared this

Tony Myles said...

We usually do a fully interactive power point with the message... since I think visually anyway when I'm preparing, I often put it together so it flows with my message.

Tanner Ridge said...

friar tuck:

People are still trying to figure out if tony blogs like he preaches... or preaches like he blogs.

It is predicted that one day the line will blur and on Sunday mornings he will be simultaneously doing both :)

Katelyn Marie said...

I attended this service as you know and Dustyns dad and I cried through some of this...it screamed out Dustyn and it helped us...Thank you so very much!