Celebrating the Resurrection of Christ
Sermons, Outlines, Illustrations, Meditations and Program Ideas
J. Michael Shannon & Robert C. Shannon
(c)opyright 1984, J. Michael Shannon

Illustrations and Quotations

    The later years of life are often called the Sunset years; but they are, in fact, the Sunrise years.  Since Jesus rose from the dead, life faces east, not west.  "Beyond the Sunset" is a beautiful hymn; but we really ought to speak of beyond the sunrise.  Peter said we lived our lives "until the day dawn and the day-star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19).

    Dr. Pedro Ara Sarria perfected a technique for preserving the body and applied it to Argentina's Eva Peron.  The embalmed body was kept intact but, for political reasons, was moved from place to place.  It went from his laboratory in Buenos Aries to a military camp, to a dusty storeroom in Bonn, Germany, to a secret grave in Milan, Italy, to an attic in Madrid, back to a chapel in Argentina, and finally to a family tomb.  What happens to our bodies after we die may not be very important.  What happens to the spirit, the true person, is very important.  Whether our bodies are buried, cremated, lost in an explosion, or buried at sea, it makes no difference.  The real concern is that the soul be at home with God.

    It was Joseph Cook who said, "Pillow my head on no guesses when I die."  Paul spoke of our future in the strongest possible terms.  In 2 Corinthians 5:lff he says, "We know."  He doesn't say, "We think, we hope, we believe, we trust, we expect" but "we know."  Guesses are little comfort.  We want assurance, blessed assurance.

    Matineua said, "We do not believe in immortality because we can not prove it, but we try to prove it because we cannot help believing in it."  Emerson said, "When God wants to carry a point with his children, He plants His arguments into the instincts."  Certainly, we have an instinct for immortality, an affinity for the infinite.  We feel certain there is more beyond this life.  If there is not, then our own nature has played on us a cruel joke.  The risen Christ assures us that our instincts are right
    We wonder about the life of the man whose epitaph read,
Don't bother me now
Don't bother me never
I want to be dead
For ever and ever.
Most of us have not found that life is bad; and most of us want to live for ever and ever.  Through Christ, we are assured that we can do just that.
I heard the voice of Jesus say
I am this dark world's light
Look unto me thy morn shall rise
And all thy day be bright.

    Robert MacNeil wrote, "I associate different emotions with traveling toward the different points of the compass.  Going east is going back to where we all came from, toward the dawn; to the west is escape, adventure, the pull of the sunset.  Going south brings an anticipation of languor, of being enfolded in limpid air.  But when I head north, my blood quickens - it takes a special people to live where nature makes it so hard."  Spiritually, we can all agree that going east is going where all came from.  Our spiritual fountainhead is Easter Sunday, our spiritual source is the resurrection of Jesus.  All of the Christian religion flows from this single place.

    Good Friday and the Saturday before Easter are very special days in Greece.  In every church, there is a flower-bedecked picture to represent the bier of Christ.  Four soldiers stand guard on either corner throughout the night and day, from Good Friday until Easter Sunday.  The visitor often wonders if they are there in a re-enactment of the soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus.  If so, it would be exciting to see them faint as the real soldiers did at the resurrection.  One suspects, however, that it is rather an honor guard.  If so, it is a very nice symbol.  Whatever our symbols, dreams, and ceremonies, all of us agree that the best honor one may pay to Christ is to believe in Him and to live for Him.  Easter is more than a celebration.  It makes its demands upon us.

    The late Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was a pious Christian, as was her husband Hendrik.  They had discussed death.  Since both regarded it as the start of a new life, they had promised each other that their funerals would not be shrouded in black, but rather be completely white as a symbol of light.  Even the dress the Queen wore to Hendrik's funeral was white.  It is true that for the Christian, death is not darkness but light, not black with despair, but bright with hope.

    On Good Friday evening, each Greek Orthodox church has a service.  Afterward, the holy picture that represents Christ, decorated with flowers and candles, is brought to the village square.  A solemn procession comes from each church; and a brief service is held.  Then, on Saturday night, a second service is held.  Just before midnight, the church is plunged into darkness.  Suddenly, one lighted candle appears in the sanctuary.  The worshipers light their own candles from it and pass on the fire to others.  Bells ring.  Fireworks greet the resurrection.  Each person carries his light home.  (Ought we all not carry the light of the resurrection and the gospel into our daily lives?)  Then, on Sunday morning, another procession retraces the steps of the previous Friday night.  This time, it is no flower-covered coffin, but a picture of the risen Lord that is carried.  The music is joyful and triumphant.  Christ is alive forevermore!  The parallels are obvious.  With a dead Christ, we are sad; and we live our lives in darkness.  With a risen Christ, we are joyful; and we live our lives in the light.  It is a light that cannot be kept at church but must be carried home.  It is a light that cannot be selfishly hoarded but must be shared with others.

    On Good Friday in Athens, the streetlights are turned off, some public buildings are draped in black, and a slow-moving procession winds through the streets.  At midnight, on Easter Eve, a cannon booms from the top of Mt. Lycabettus, which towers above the city.  Thousands worshiping at the church of St. George on the summit light their candles.  Slowly they pass down the twisting path from the summit to the city below.  One can see thousands of tiny pin points of light moving down the mountain and into the city.  So the truth of Easter must come down from the mountain of spiritual worship and walk the streets of daily need.

    Among the people from Eastern Europe, the Easter basket had nothing to do with candy and rabbits.  Baskets were filled with symbolic things and taken to church to be blessed.  There was bread in the basket to recall how Israel relied on God in the wilderness and to symbolize life.  Horseradish was there to suggest the bitterness of Egyptian bondage and the bitterness of Jesus death.  Salt was there as a symbol of our common humanity.  Ham was there as a reminder that we are not under the old law, which forbade so much, but under the new.  Eggs were in the basket, too.  They stood for hope and resurrection and life!  Whatever our customs, whatever our symbols, Easter always stands for new life, for resurrection, for hope!

    Blandon Churchyard, where Winston Churchill is buried, is like many similar village churchyards.  There is a lych-gate at the entrance.  Here the bearers could wait with the casket until the minister came out to escort them into the church.  If the weather were inclement, they had some shelter beneath the roof of the lych-gate.  Over the lych-gate at Blandon are these words, "I know that my Redeemer liveth."  One sees them, not upon entering, but upon leaving!  How comforting to a family who has just left the body of a loved one in the churchyard!  How comforting it is to us all to remember we have a deathless Redeemer!

    A man said that one year he had two Easters.  After the Easter celebration in America, he went to Greece.  In the Orthodox Church, Easter usually comes a week later than the Catholic and Protestant Easter.  So he enjoyed two Easter Sundays.  We were meant to enjoy fifty-two Easter Sundays!  Every Sunday, every first day of the week, commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  It is not just one day a year.  That would not be enough.  It is one day in every week!  That's how important the resurrection is!

    There are many stories, sagas, and legends that have in them the theme of death and resurrection.  That ought not to surprise us nor disturb us.  Anything genuine is bound to have its counterfeits.  In fact, the presence of the counterfeit reassures us of the fact of the genuine.

     Who would believe that the caterpillar becomes a butterfly unless he had seen it.  If we can accept that, how can we deny that death can be transformed into life.

    The city of Phoenix, Arizona, owes its name to a legendary bird that rose out of the ashes of a funeral pyre.  The first explorers in Arizona came upon prehistoric remains of dwellings and canals, so they felt they were building again on the ashes of the past.  Our funeral ritual says "ashes to ashes, dust to dust"; yet the resurrection teaches us just the opposite.  Burial is not a return to our origins, but merely a transition.  We do not go from dust to dust.  We go from life to life.

    Art galleries in New York and Florida have been exhibiting the paintings of Jacob J. Kass.  His work is unique because he never paints on canvas.  He paints on saws: hand saws, circular saws, all kinds of saws.  He takes old, dull, rusty, worn-out saw blades and paints on them scenes of striking beauty.  In a far, far, far larger way, God takes the ugliness of death and paints on it a picture of life.

    Two men were arguing about sports.  One said that boxing was the most violent of all sports.  The other said it was hockey, because in hockey they didn't just go at each other with their fists they used sticks!  The wives were listening and one of them disagreed.

    "I think baseball is the most violent sport."

    "That's ridiculous," they answered.  "Baseball is not a violent sport.  Why would you say that?"

    "Well," she said, "the other day I overheard an announcer say that in one inning three men died on base."

    We may speak of death in a joke, but death is not a joking matter.  We may speak of it in a trifling way.  We may speak of it in a superficial manner.  "I was so embarrassed I could have died"; but death is no superficial or trifling matter.  Perhaps we use the word in all these ways to mask our fears.  The Bible takes death seriously.  It calls it our enemy.  The Bible never minimizes death.  It maximizes Christ's victory over death.

    From all over the world, people come to Florence to see Michelangelo's famous "David," one of the most beautiful and one of the most celebrated statues in the world.  Looking at it in the great hall of the University, one finds the story behind it hard to believe; but the story is true.  That lovely piece of art was made from a rejected stone.  For fifty years it lay in the work yard behind the Duomo at Florence.  Duccio had tried to make something of it but gave it up, leaving a great gash in the middle.  Only a Michaelangelo could see what possibilities lay in that piece of marble!  In a far, far larger way, Christ was the rejected stone, elevated to the most important place, a fulfillment of ancient prophecy!

    The largest man-made structure on earth is a tomb, the Great Pyramid.  The oldest man-made structure on earth is a tomb, the step pyramid at Sakkara.  The only one of the seven wonders of the world that still stands is a tomb - the Pyramids!  Thus do we show man's preoccupation with death.  Paul speaks of those who all their lifetime were subject to bondage through fear!  We see that throughout history, men have feared death most of all.  Christianity is not preoccupied with death.  It is preoccupied with life!

    It was said of the people of Rhodes that "they eat as if they were about to die and build as if they were immortal."  There is a sense in which we ought to conduct ourselves as if we were about to die.  Not that we indulge ourselves foolishly, but that we make our time on earth count.  We ought to live holy and productive lives, as if any day might be our last.  But we are, in fact, immortal.  We ought, in quite another way, to live as immortal beings.  We are going to spend eternity some place.  We are determining that now and preparing ourselves for it.  The immortality of the soul can be a very comforting doctrine or a very frightening doctrine.  Are you living as one about to die?  Are you living as one immortal?

    When Julius Caesar came to Alexandria, they showed him the coffin of Alexander the Great.  They then asked him if he would like to see Ptolemy's coffin.  He said, "I came to see a king, not a corpse."  When we come to church, we come to see a King, not a corpse!

    Do you know the song?
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because 1 know He holds the future;
And life is worth the living just because He lives.
Sometimes the problem is not facing tomorrow.  Sometimes it is facing yesterday.  The past may trouble as much as the future may make anxious.  But because He lives, we can face both the past and the future, both yesterday and tomorrow.

    We have so many ways to avoid the word death.  We say he "went away."  We say he "passed away."  We say he was "taken."  We say he "fell asleep."  Far better to face death squarely and call it what it is.  The Bible does that and labels death our enemy.  Faith gives us the courage to look death in the eye because we know that death for a believer is only a transition.  It is never an end.

    Recently, newspapers told the story of a woman who was separated from her father at age two.  Now, forty-two years later, she is to finally meet him.  When she located him, half way across the nation, they talked on the phone for two hours!  Now they were planning a grand reunion.  The headline for that story read, "42 Year Wait to Meet Father."  That's what life is - waiting to meet our Father.  We may have to wait eighty or ninety years, but life is only waiting to meet our Father.  When know that, death loses its sting.

    It has been said, "At the end of the game, the king and the queen and the pawns all go into the same box."  That's true of bodies but not of our souls.  The grave is the lot of us all.  Death comes to powerful and ordinary, rich and poor, famous and obscure.  But we are more than our bodies; and at the end of the game, we do not really all go into the same box.  Some hear the words, "Come, blessed of my Father," and they enter everlasting life.  Others hear the words, "Depart from me; I never knew you," and they enter into everlasting death.

    In the huge, new Dallas/Fort Worth airport is the skeleton of a plesiosaur.  His bones were found in the building of the airport.  The plesiosaur is a great lizard, twenty-five feet long and weighing ten thousand pounds.  It is said the plesiosaur lived seventy million years ago.  The contrast is striking.  Here is one of the most modern airports in the world and in the midst of it a skeleton seventy million years old.  We have a similar contrast in the resurrection.  The Gospels tell us that the grave in which Jesus was placed was near Golgotha.  So the place of His death and the place of His resurrection were side by side.  The day of His death and the day of His resurrection were side by side, only one day apart.  We who are always close to death may, by faith, also be close to life - life like His, life everlasting!

    At a world gathering of religious leaders the spokesman for Christianity came to the heart of the matter when he said, "Religion means to me victory, victory, victory!"  That is the thrust of our faith.  Christianity means victory over sin!  Christianity means victory over death!  Christianity means victory over the grave!  Christianity means victory over Hell itself!

    How often in our experience does a death bring about a reconciliation?  Sometimes it is a reconciliation in a family.  Sometimes it is a reconciliation among friends.  Sometimes it is a reconciliation in a congregation.  Often, death brings abouta reconciliation.  Christ's death brings about the most important reconciliation of all.  He has reconciled us to God by His death on the cross.

    Dying words are often illuminating.  When Henry David Thoreau was asked if he had made peace with God, he said, "We never quarreled."  Rabelais, the French writer, said, "I am going to seek a great perhaps."  Oscar Wilde was calling for champagne and said, "I am dying as I have lived - beyond my means."  Max Baer's dying words were: "Oh, God, here I go!"

    The cartoon "This Funny World" once showed a couple leaving church. The wife is saying, "I ll tell you why it's always the same old sermon.  The only time you come is on Easter Sunday, that's why!"

    When the great preacher, William Sangster, was terminally ill with cancer, he was living with his daughter.  He could get about but could not speak.  One Easter Sunday morning, he seemed especially despondent.  Finally he wrote on his pad:  "What tragedy!  Resurrection Lord's Day and no voice with which to praise my great Redeemer's name."  Then he sat dejectedly gazing out the window. Finally, he wrote again: "There is only one thing more tragic to have a voice and fail to praise the great Redeemer's Name."

    The common denominators of all religions is the conviction that this life is not all there is.

    When Bishop Brown of the Episcopal Church came to speak in Virginia's historic St. Luke's Church, Isle of Wight county, he said, "It has been said that Bishop Brown wants to be buried in St. Luke's graveyard. That's nonsense.  I'm here to tell you that Bishop Brown doesn't want to be buried anywhere."

    In "The Romance of the Last Crusade," British Major Vivian Gilbert told of his advance toward Jerusalem during World War I.  He stopped one night to visit a field hospital.  He stayed by the bedside of a dying soldier, barely nineteen.  He told their location.  They were at Emmaus.  Then he told him the story from Luke of two men on their way to Emmaus and the appearance of the risen Christ to them.  He told him how Jesus ate with them that day.  "And it happened right here, on this very spot!" he said.  A look of peace and comfort told the major that the story had done its work.

    "Why is this night different from all other nights?"  This is the question which is asked in every Jewish home at Passover.  It is always asked by the youngest child; and it offers an opportunity to explain the rescue of Israel from Egypt.  So we may ask of the day of Christ's resurrection, why is this day different from all other days?  The answer is the most important ever given!

    Even if we were not promised Heaven, would death have to be that bad?  Would death be too stiff a price to pay for the privilege of living?  That is the price.  Everything that lives also dies.  From the smallest, single-celled organism to the most complex man, animal, and plant all things that live also die.  If you would prefer to be a rock, you would never die; but you would never live either.  How much greater it is, though, to have the confidence that this life is not all there is.

    The first law of Thermodynamics says that no mass or energy is ever destroyed, that it merely changes form.  When a piece of wood is burned, it is not gone.  Some of it becomes heat; some deteriorates into the ashes.  But it is not destroyed - it just changes.  When a lake dries up, the water is gone.  It has evaporated into the air, only to fall to earth again someday.  If we can see this all around us in the physical world, is it so hard to conceive of it in the spiritual world?  Harry Emerson Fosdick said, "Can it be that God is the most unscrupulous waster in the universe making great personalities, only to throw them utterly away."  If we can see it in nature, can we see it in the sphere of faith?  We, too, can have the same confidence that the apostle Paul had when he said, "We shall all be changed."

    John Wooden, the famous basketball coach, always keeps a cross in his pocket.  He says he keeps it there to remind himself that there is something more important in life than basketball!  The cross ought to remind us that there is something more important in life than anything else and everything else that is that Jesus died and rose again.  That's more important than politics.  That's more important than business.  That's more important than romance.  That's more important than education.  That's more important than your career.  That's more important than your health.  That's more important than your safety.  That's more important than your very life!

    The epitaph for one of the first Virginians buried at Jamestown reads, "A Great Sinner Confidently Awaiting A Joyous Resurrection."

    We have so beautified the cross that we often forget that it was really a hideous instrument of cruel torture.  In the Passion Play at Oberammergau, Germany, the man who plays the part of Christ carries a cross weighing eighty pounds and hangs on it for twenty minutes.  We do not know how much the cross of Christ weighed, but He hung on it for six long hours of agony until death came.  We make it beautiful because of the way it has blessed us.  We make it beautiful because it made our lives beautiful.  We make it beautiful because it expresses a beautiful love.  The cross is not the only ugly thing made beautiful by Jesus Christ!

    In 1917, work was completed on the Quebec Bridge over the St. Lawrence River.  At that time, it was the world's longest span.  Eighty-six men died to bridge the river.  There is a longer span.  It bridges the gulf between a sinful man and a holy God.  Only one man died to make that bridge possible.  We honor Him!

    Warren K. Robinson preached that he, himself, was divine.  When he became gravely ill, his followers would not allow a blood transfusion.  "This is God," they said. "No mere mortal blood could be allowed to enter the veins of God."  Warren K. Robinson died because they would not put the blood of men into a "god."  But in a sense, the reverse happened at Calvary.  Would it be crude to say that on the cross man received a Divine blood transfusion?  Isn't that what forgiveness is all about?

    Jesus did not liken the kingdom of God to a diamond, but to a pearl.  Of all precious stones, the pearl has the humblest origin.  It begins with a wound and is created out of God's resources for healing the wound.  So the kingdom begins with a wound, the wound in the body of Jesus.  Then we marvel at God s resources for healing: physically, mentally, spiritually!

    A legend says an emperor found a nail from the cross.  With it he made a bit for his horse's bridle.  When he rode into battle after that, he always overcame his enemies because of that piece of iron.  Ah, the cross is not there to be used by us to our advantage.  The cross is there so that we may be used by God to His advantage!

    A few years ago, a French court refused to rule on whether the Jews or the Romans were responsible for the death of Jesus. The occasion was a claim for damages against the author of a book entitled The True Trial of Jesus.  The author had been defamed, ruled the court, by a minister who called him a renegade Christian because he put the blame on the Romans.  The court awarded damages of one franc!  Of course, we already know who is to blame for the death of Jesus.  lt is not the Jews!  It is not the Romans!  We, ourselves, are to blame!  He died for our sins!

    In Savannah, Georgia, there are numerous monuments to Civil War battles and to those who died in them.  One bears this inscription from Ezekiel 37:9, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."  It is beautifully poetic to think of the breath of God that first brought life in Eden coming again to restore life to the dead.  However, we understand that life beyond death is really the gift of the risen Christ.  It comes only through His power.

    A five-year-old girl was very, very fond of her Vacation Bible School teacher.  She called her on the phone to talk.  "I pray for you every night," she said. "I pray you'll live forever!"  That's a sweet prayer.  While death is the universal lot of us all, it is also true that Christians live forever.  Christ's own resurrection ensures an answer to the child's prayer.

    The great majority of art that remains from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome is funerary art.  It is art that comes from tombs or memorials; art that speaks of death.  In the museum at Thessalonica, there is a great collection of gold objects.  All are from tombs, from the great garments of death.  Christianity draws our attention away from death to life.  Not that death can be ignored, or should be ignored.  It is rather that we see life, both now and beyond the grave, as the most significant of all concerns.  It does no good to ornament death with gold or marble.  It is still death and still our enemy.  It is better by far to ornament life with good deeds and to spend our money, time, and art on those things that make life more abundant, more lasting, and more blessed.

    King Baldwin I was crowned king of Jerusalem in Bethlehem because he refused to be crowned with a gold crown in the city where the Lord was crowned with a crown of thorns.
King of my life, I crown Thee now,
Thine shall the glory be!
Lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary!

    In the Canadian province of Quebec, there is a custom that is observed every January third.  It dates from the fifth century.  It consists of the baking, blessing, and giving away of little loaves of bread.  Every year they give away fifty thousand of them!  But the only bread truly blessed is the bread that reminds us of the broken body of our Lord and of His pain.

    The sculptures of Michelangelo thrill art lovers all over the world.  They are moved by the grace of his "David," but he never signed it.  They are awed by the majesty of his "Moses," but he never signed it.  They are thunderstruck at the impact of the "Medici Tomb," but he never signed it.  The only sculpture he ever signed is the "Pieta" Mary taking Jesus down from the cross.  The only work that bears his name is the one that reflects the crucifixion.

    Someone published a book picturing the many shapes of the cross.  It has been stylized in a dozen ways.  There is a Latin cross, a Greek cross, an Egyptian cross, a Jerusalem cross, a cross of St. Andrew, and an iron cross.  Artists and architects have modified its basic form in many ways.  I suppose that does no harm, but we must never modify the meaning of the cross - Christ died for our sins!

    The largest cross in the world is located on Bald Knob mountain in southern Illinois.  It towers 111 feet high and can be seen for miles in every direction. But the true cross towers higher.  It towers above our vain ambition.  It towers above our petty concerns.  It towers above all that is fleshly, material, or worldly.  It towers above life itself!

    A little African boy in Kenya cut his foot badly.  Without telling his family, he went at once to the mission hospital.  Later, his mother showed up.  When asked how she found him, she replied, "I followed the blood."

    The nation of Panama was a diplomatic creation of the United States in order to build the Panama Canal.  Panama seceded from Columbia without the loss of a single life, except for one man in a laundry killed when a Columbian gunboat lobbed a token shell into the city of Panama!  Our spiritual freedom was not so easily won.  No accidental death brought it about.  It took the deliberate and willing sacrifice of Christ our Lord.

    When we built Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), it was the largest in the world.  As is common on such projects, there were the inevitable accidents and some workmen lost their lives.  When the dam was complete, they put a plaque into the wall.  On it they inscribed the names of the workmen who had died during construction.  The plaque begins, "These died that the desert might rejoice and blossom as the rose."  So Christ died that the dry and arid souls of men might be refreshed and renewed and turned from total waste to useful service.

    A visitor to Russia was walking down the Moscow River at evening.  The sun was sinking and its direct rays no longer reached the valley, nor the walls of the Kremlin, nor the palace of the Czars, nor the Soviet flag above it, but shone only on the cross on top of the Church of the Assumption, the old church where the Czars had been crowned.  The light lingered last on that cross as if to say that there was something in that cross that would endure when all human institutions had passed away, all Czars had been forgotten, when the last Communist had disappeared and the doctrines of Karl Marx had turned to dust.  It suggested to him that the cross would eternally hold meaning and hope for the human race.

    When Bomilcar was crucified in the marketplace at Carthage, he shouted curses from his cross and hurled insults at his enemies.  When Jesus was crucified on Calvary, He prayed for His enemies: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  Because of His sinless character, Christ's cross has an efficacy that none other possesses.  His alone can provide forgiveness of sin.

    When the Unknown Soldier was laid to rest in Arlington, he was given the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Croix de Guerre; and to these each of the Allied powers added its highest honor.  He was the first non-British citizen to receive the United Kingdom's highest honor.  Thus decorated, the body of the Unknown Soldier was laid to rest.

    But when the Captain of our salvation was laid to rest, He knew no such pomp and ceremony.  The only honor accorded Him by men was Pilate's crude title above the cross:  Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.  God, however, gave Him a stirring salute, for the earth quaked, darkness shrouded the midday sun; and in His honor, graves were opened and the dead walked.  In the face of such honors, the centurion said, "Truly this man was the Son of God."  How poor are the honors we come to bestow on Him today.  But if we bring with those humble honors lives dedicated to Him, they will be graciously accepted.

    When General Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines in the early part of World War II, he made a short speech:  "I will return."  Later on in the war, he came back to the Philippines in victory.  Cameras recorded his wading ashore. He made another speech: "I have returned."  The first speech would have been worthless without the second, which gave it force and meaning.  So Jesus promised to rise from the dead.  How hollow that would sound if He had not come back from the dead.  But what a note of victory it now sounds now that He is risen!

    Because he led the army that liberated the Philippines in World War II, General Douglas MacArthur has been ever since a hero in that country.  To this very day, whenever a group of Philippine soldiers answer roll call, after the last name has been called, they always add, "Douglas MacArthur," and someone always answers, "Here!"  When we call the roll of the church on earth, Christ is really here.  It is not symbolic.  It is not a gesture.  Because He rose from the dead, He can and does keep His promise, "Lo, I am with you alway."  It is not some imposter who answers "Here."  He is here!
    Charles Revlon, president of Revlon Cosmetics, is reported to have said, "I sell hope."  Of course, hope can never be bought.  It is given away, by Christ, to those who believe!

    "It is a poor tale in which humanity slaps at the face of Divinity and gets away with it."


    The resurrection of Jesus has given us, as Christians, a new perspective on death.  Preaching on the resurrection often comments on that perspective, and may thus find useful some of the following quotations.  They reveal much about their authors views of death, as well as their hope, or hopelessness, for beyond.

Perhaps death is life and life is death,
And victuals and drink an illusion of the senses;
For what is Death but an eternal sleep?
And does not Life consist in sleeping and eating?


But whether on the scaffold high
    Or in the battle's van,
The fittest place where man can die
    Is where he dies for man!

-Michael Joseph Barry

Click, click, click... Death is prancing;
Death, at midnight, goes a-dancing,
Tapping on a tomb with talon thin,
Click, click, click, goes the grisly violin.

- Henri Cazalis (Jean Lahors)

Things have a terrible permanence
When people die.

- Aline (Mrs. Joyce) Kilmer

From wind to wind, earth has one tale to tell;
All other sounds are dulled, and drowned, and lost,
    In this one cry, "Farewell."

- Celia Laighton Thaxter

When we have thrown off this old suit,
    So much in need of mending,
To sink among the naked mute,
    Is that, think you, our ending?

- George Meredith

                    But once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume.

- Shakespeare

Nothing exists which the British bourgeoisie
Does not understand;
Therefore there is no death
- And, of course, no life.

- Sir Osbert Sitwell

Death is the ugly fact which Nature has to hide, and she hides it well.

- Alexander Smith

Yes, death is strong, but look you, the strongest,
Stronger is music than death.

- Franz Werfel Death

Death in itself is nothing; but we fear
To be we know not what, we know not where.

- John Dryden

Afraid? Of whom am I afraid?
Not death; for who is he?
The porter of my father's lodge
As much abasheth me.

- Emily Dickinson

Somewhere I read, in an old book whose name
    Is gone from me, I read that when the days
Of a man are counted, and his business done,
    There comes up the shore at evening, with the tide,
To the place where he sits, a boat -
    And in the boat, from the place where he sits; he sees,
Dim in the dusk, dim and yet so familiar,
    The faces of his friends long dead; and knows
They come for him, brought in upon the tide,
    To take him where men go at set of day.

- Theodore Roosevelt

Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily.

- Francois, Duc de la Rochefoucauld

As one looks on a face through a window, through life
    I have looked on God.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

- Amelia Josephine Burr

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.

- John Donne

Why fear death? Death is only a beautiful adventure.

- (Last words of a passenger to a group of friends as the Lusitania
was sinking [May 7,1915] reported by a survivor, Rita Jolivet)

Oh, write of me, not "Died in bitter pains,"
But "Emigrated to another star!"

- Helen Hunt Jackson

It must be so Plato, thou reasonest well!
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror
Of falling into naught?  Why shrinks the soul
Back to herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis Heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!

- Joseph Addison


Lorenzo Savin, 1877, age 74, Eastport, Maine:


Francis Magranis, 1891, age 85, South Hadley, Massachusetts:

My shoes are made
My work is done;
Yes, dear friends,
I'm going home.
And where I've gone
And how I fare
There's nobody to know
And nobody to care.
Newbury, Massachusetts:
Here lies
In a state of perfect oblivion
John Adams
who died Sept 2 1811
AE 79
Death has decomposed him
And at the great resurrection
Christ will recompose him.

Phineas G. Wright, 1918, age 89, Putnam, Connecticut:

Going, But Know Not Where

East Derry, New Hampshire:

Lizzie James
wife of
Edmund R. Angell
"I don't know how to die."

Jaffrey, New Hampshire:

Sacred to the Memory of Violate
by purchase the slave of Amos Fortune
by marriage his wife,
by her fidelity his companion and solace
She died his Widow Sept. 13, 1802 AEt. 73
Jaffrey, New Hampshire:
Sacred to the Memory of Amos Fortune
who was born free in Africa
a slave in America, he purchased
liberty, professed Christianity,
lived reputably, died hopefully
Nov. 17, 1901 AEt. 91.
Patience Holmes, 1845, age 24, Plymouth, Massachusetts (and others in New Hampshire and Vermont):
Shed not for her the bitter tear
Nor give the heart to vain regret
'Tis but the casket that lies here
The gem that filled it sparkles yet.

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