The Words of the Yakawich Family
This sermon was given to the Montana church on Easter Sunday.
Happy Easter Day! Happy Resurrection Day of Lord Jesus! St. John 20: 19-23:
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews came Jesus and stood in the midst and said unto them Peace be unto you. And when he had so said he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciple glad when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again Peace be unto you as my Father has sent me even so send I you. And when he had said this he breathe on them and said unto them receive you the Holy Spirit. Whosoever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them and who so ever sins you retain, they are retained.”
The journey of our lives to resurrection is a fantastic journey. Jesus set the way for us. Jesus is our spiritual father. He is my spiritual Padre. He is my spiritual father who brought me to this church. His journey is our journey. Jesus did rise from the dead. He gave us hope and inspiration. Within the heart of my sermon, is this message of resurrection and renewal that we each are called to journey on in our life of faith. It is a journey of resurrection and new hope that may require a vast toll, a debt paid, as Jesus had gone.
First there’s the SWISH, SWISH, SWISH of the palms. Palms are symbolic of joy, inspiration and the welcoming of Christ into the city. People laid palms down as Jesus entered the city. It was a time of glory. How about you? Do you recall times of joy, times of inspiration, times of feeling God’s love? I am sure you do. These palms that I am handing out can be remindful of the good times we have had, have and will have. Hold these palms in your hand to remember this glorious time of Jesus but also the good times, the joyful times of your own life.
“And a very great multitude
spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the
trees and strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went
before and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David.
Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the
highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem all the city was moved
saying who is this? And the multitudes said This is Jesus the prophet
of Nazareth of Galilee.”
St. Matthew 21: 8-11
This was the great hope Jesus brought to the people and the people to him.
Pound! Pound! Pound! As the nails you hear are driven into this wood, we are made aware how much pain and suffering took place for the resurrection to take place. Nails may portray our own trials, our fears, and our great hardship. It is our suffering, the course of indemnity. It may require greater sacrifices for us to truly get to the Promised Land. Hold these nails in your hand to remember that there are and will be painful times in our lives.
A movie called “The Passion” portrayed Jesus’ final hours on earth with such tragedy and misery. What must have gone through his mind as the people tormented him denied him and shunned him? I can only imagine his thoughts of Jesus when he cried Father, where are you? “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (St. Mark 15:34) What tragedies, what failures have we been part of? Are we not all in need of a resurrection of our souls, our minds and our bodies?
Do we feel at times spiritually or physical exhausted, vision lost or in despair? Yet, my hope and my testimony are to encourage you not to give up BREATE, BREATHE, BREATHE in the Holy Spirit. This is a great time to renew. As I ask you, do we feel burned out? Do we get stressed out? Do we encounter rather a death of our spirit? There is a famous mystic named St. John of the Cross. He wrote of the trials and tribulations of the faithful when they face crisis of faith. He calls this time ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’. In these times, we almost feel abandoned by God. The famous Psalms when the faithful walk through this shadow of death touches on this.
Jesus speaks of resurrection for all to participate in. We can look at our journey of faith as parents. Do we feel we could do a better job as a father? I can look at my own life and see a need for repentance. I seek out a new spirit, the Holy Spirit to fill me and us as we journey an as parents. We breathe in the Holy Spirit and we breathe out forgiveness, new determination, and renewed dedication. This is what the story of Jesus tells me. It is either a story of blame, accusation, resentment, rage OR a story of forgiving our enemy, our friends, our family, our parents, ourselves and perhaps even God Himself.
Last week, at the workshop in Estes Park, Colorado for the missionary STF workshop, I discovered that we all seem to walk a course of palms, nails and the Holy Spirit. They honesty shared with me. They testified how STF changed their lives. It was a personal pilgrimage to see how much our youth have faced so much hardship as Blessed youth. Their lives were sacrificed in great ways and the spiritual wounds though often healed are there. So, I found myself needing to repent and seek forgiveness. I ask how we can move forward and seek new ways, now avenues, and new approaches to bringing greater joy to all our families. There is the joy of life that our youth share with their parents.
There is also the pain and anguish of growing up in this fallen world and our own personal faults as we parent. Finally, there is the blessing especially by the grace of God and such training as we may call the formula course that we emerge on the other end with renewed spirit, discovering the living God, the unique value of oneself and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is a time of renewal.
As your pastor, I humble ask for your forgiveness. I recently wrote a letter to some of our youth acknowledging my failures as a pastor. I too wrote how proud we are of them and there sacrifices on their missions. I ask how I could have done a better job at providing education and support. Likewise, I seek ways to provide better education and service to all. A time to begin a new. In the closing our Jesus’ words, he gave us the power to forgive OR not to forgive. This I find very amazing. For we each of us have this blessing, this ability to move on or not, to forgive or not, to vanquish our fear or not.
We have the choice to pull out the nails or leave them in! Like a hammer that can pound nails in, it too can with its claw pull or remove nails as well. This is why I believe one of the most powerful forces in the universe is the power of forgiveness. As Jesus stated while nailed on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” (St. Luke 23:34) Father Moon stated, “Because Jesus prayed for the ones who were killing him, Heavenly Fate could resurrect him.” He also commented, “Christianity was born out of Jesus’ heartistic foundation of prayer on the cross, when he prayed for the soldiers piercing him.”
Yesterday, with your help, we set out 5,000 Easter Eggs stuffed with candy in the park. You helped me stuff these eggs a couple of weeks ago. Sponsored by the local South Side Neighborhood Task Force and other businesses we could help host this annual South Park egg hunt. The joy and happiness we could bring to hundreds of youth at the park reminded me that Easter should be a time of hope, anticipation of God’s blessings and renewal of ourselves and our community.
In this spirit, I will baptize our church and our membership with this Holy Water. With these palms dipped in Holy Water, I Baptize you in the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, in the name of the Cosmic Parents, Parents of Heaven and Earth and in our names. Receive this baptism, this cleansing of your sins, this forgiveness of sins as I ask you to do to all others.
I pray that we all may have a true heart of a father. Our journey as a people of parental heart, conjugal love, and sibling love we renew our relationship with Heavenly Father. May we seek ways to awaken our hearts to the calling of God. May we resurrect our love for each other. May this be a new Easter spirit of new hope, new joy, and new inspiration for all of us. Let us be renewed, let us renew our family, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our nation and our world at this Easter Season.