[Christianity is a thoroughly eschatological faith, no matter what some contemporary would-be retrievers of the "historical Jesus" may claim. Yet eschatology always has been a tough topic for preachers. Advent is the supremely eschatological, apocalyptic season. Thus, the following is my attempt to preach eschatology in this sermon preached at in a Duke chapel sermon.]
I don't recall that Jesus ever made dullness a sin, but maybe-what with the things He said and the things He did-He didn't have to. So I'll say it: Dullness in preaching, church meetings, and magazine articles is downright sinful, an offense against Easter, a crime against the work of the Holy Spirit.
A risen Savior comes back -- again and again -- to the very ones (I'm talking about us!) who so betray and disappoint Him. He appears to us, seeks us, finds, grabs us, embraces, holds. As this Easter sermon attests, in life, in death, in life beyond death, this is our hope. The risen Christ came back to us.
This sermon focuses on Jesus' simple declaration, "Blessed are those who, having not seen, yet have they believed." Just like the beloved disciple, running towards the tomb on that first Easter, we do not have "proof," as we call something proof, no legal certification of the resurrection. Yet we have a relationship with Jesus. We have our own experience of a sure, certain, determined love that will not let go, even in death.
We come to Christmas thinking of Christmas as the time that sets everything right. Christmas is the time to come home, to return to that time in our memories when all was warm, and good and right, when everything that's come upside down in our lives is set, at least for a couple of days in December, right side up. Yet, as this sermon points out, in the Bible, Christmas was that time when everything was turned upside down.
If there be hope for us, declares this sermon - hope which is not a lie - then it must be hope not of our own creation, mortal as we are, not the result of wishful thinking or human potential. It must be something outside of us and our finitude, some stunning intrusion, some act of God reversing our shuffle toward the grave, overcoming the final enemy. That's Easter!