March 31, 2002

Text:     John 20:1-18

Title:     “The Sequel”




            I.          Have you ever had a favorite movie

-         one you really enjoyed

-         watched over and over again

-         and then been very excited when you heard the news

that they were making a sequel to your favorite movie

-         only to be extremely disappointed when you saw it

-         the sequel never seems to be as good as the original


The Academy Awards were last week

-         and so several cable channels have recently been 

showing various Oscar-winning movies

-         the other day, I watched one of them – its called “The

Sting” – one of my favorites

-         starred Robert Redford and Paul Newman

-         story about how some con men swindle a NY gangster

-         I like the movie

-         It won several Academy Awards and so, you’d think that

If “The Sting” was good, then “The Sting II” ought to be even better, right?


                        Well, let me give you a clue

-         they didn’t get Redford and Newman back

-         so they somehow decide upon Jackie Gleason and Mac Davis

-         Mac Davis?


Suffice it to say, the movie stunk

-         there aren’t enough thumbs in this building to describe

bad it was

-         PU


Sequels tend to be that way, “Rocky” was a highly acclaimed, award winning picture about a Philly boxer

-         I liked it

-         But by the time “Rocky V” rolled around, I was wishing that I had been knocked out


You want to know just how far society has plummeted?  The other day I looked in the TV guide and saw a listing for “Police Academy 6”

-         there’s 6 of these losers that I know of

-         that’s how far we’ve fallen

-         the first one was bad enough

-         every consecutive sequel just gets worse


Sequels tend to be that way

-         they just bet worse and worse


We like the originals

            -    remember when Coca-Cola tried a sequel

-         the “new” Coke

-         that went over like a lead balloon

-         sales of Coke “Classic” went through the roof

-         while the new Coke gathered dust on the grocer’s shelves

We like the originals

-         sequels tend to be disappointing let-downs

We prefer the originals


            II          My neighbors consider me to be somewhat of an original


-         their latest evidence to prove this point is probably my Christmas lights


They’re still up – I’ve got the only house on my block with Christmas lights

-         blue light we had in the shrubs this past Christmas

-         still in the shrubs

-         white light around the tree in the front yard

-         still ‘round the same tree

-         red and green lights along the roof

-         still along the roof


I’ve been meaning to get to taking them down

            -    Jan  busy

            -     Feb            bad weather

            -     Mar           something came up

-         I’m considering April, but it’s baseball season now so

might have to wait


                        My wife “asked” me about it recently in her mild mannered way

-         when are you going to get busy and take down those

ridiculous Christmas lights?!


                        I knew I needed a quick excuse

-         I’m leaving them up for Easter


I think that somehow, she sensed that a long, drawn story was soon to follow; so she let it go for now


-         but as I congratulated myself for buying a few extra  

weeks, I wondered

-         why don’t we have Easter lights?

-         why don’t we sing Easter carols?

-         why is Christmas more popular than Easter


III        We can make a quick comparison

            1st – the season

-         this past year, they started playing Christmas songs on the radio in early November – stores put out Christmas stuff right before Halloween – skip Thanksgiving

-         8 weeks of Christmas season

-         Easter candy and stuffed bunnies has only been on the

shelves for 2 or 3 weeks.

                                    -     Advantage - Christmas


                        2nd – the mascot – now the Easter bunny is cute, but let’s face it

-         when it comes to holiday symbols, no body beats

Santa Claus

-         right?


The bunny gets a little bit of exposure this time of year, but Santa has the whole North Pole thing, reindeer, sleigh, elves, etc.

-         he’s in every mall and dept. store 2 months out of the year

-         there’s about 100 songs about him, from sacred to rock to country

-         you can even get one of those electric toy Santas that does the twist


Its no contest – the Easter Bunny vs. Santa

-Advantage - Christmas


No matter how you look at it

-         the decorations you put in on and around your house

-         or the cards you mail to your friends and relatives

-         or the parties you have

-         or the gifts you give

-         or the songs you sing

-         or the festive holiday clothes you wear


Even the greeting we share with one another

-         everyone says Merry Christmas

-         how many say “Merry Easter?:”


No matter how you cut it, the world likes Christmas better than Easter

-         even we in the Church tend to have warmer, fuzzier

feelings about Christmas

-         even though our “official” stance, as you find printed on

back of your bulletin, claims that Easter is the “most joyous and celebrative season of the new year”


                        Why is it, that both the world and many times even the Church,

                        seems to favor Christmas over Easter?


                        I have my theory


I think it’s partly because so many of us tend to view Easter as a sequel

-         a sequel to Christmas

-         Christmas came first

-         Jesus birth came first

-         older story

-         Easter comes later -


We present Easter to the world just 3 months after Christmas

and many of those folks say “Jesus?”  Didn’t we just hear

all about that Jesus guy back in December?


I’ve heard all this before – manger- birth – wise men

-         let’s move on, OK

-         let’s not rehash this whole thing just 3 months later


For crying out loud, we’ve still got fruit cake sitting around here


Easter?  We just went over all this savior stuff

-         just give me a fuzzy bunny and a few chocolate eggs

-         and save all the Jesus still until the next December

-         by then I might be able to stay awake through hearing it again


For so many people in the world and even a few in the Church

-         Easter is just a sequel

-         nothing new

-         nothing original

-         just a rehash of old religious stuff


Just a sequel

-         and we prefer the original


V.                 But this is the one sequel that’s better than the original

-         oh, the characters are mostly the same

-         Jesus, Mary, and the crew

-         and the setting hasn’t changed much

o       Galilee

o       Nazareth

o       Jerusalem

-         but oh, how the plot has twisted

did you hear what John’s gospel had to say?

-         Jesus had been placed in the tomb

-         the stone had been rolled away

-         Mary Magdalene and Simon Peter wondering what happened to Jesus’ body

-         Simon and other disciples had seen the linen wrappings,

and the text says they “believed,”

-         but they didn’t understand what had happened

and then Mary, who had been seeping outside the tomb, peers inside and sees two angels, in white, sitting where Jesus’ body had been

            Q:        Why weep

            A:         they’ve taken my Lord, and I don’t know where  they                           laid him

Mary turns around and there stands Jesus

-         alive

-         but she isn’t expecting this

-         she figures he’s the gardener, and asks him if he has moved Jesus’ body

It’s not until Jesus calls her by name – Mary!

That she recognizes him as the Lord

-         she turns and in what must be the most emotion filled

moment of her life, cries out “Rabbouni!”

-         teacher


Jesus has been resurrected from the dead

Jesus is alive


God’s promise is complete

God’s power has overcome death!


Let me tell you that was not in the original


You only get this in the sequel to Christmas


Only in the Easter story


Don’t get me wrong


            -    Christmas story is powerful – virgin birth - miraculous

-         but birth – babies being born – happens every day

-    resurrection of a crucified savior, on the other hand,        

      does not

-         only in the sequel

the sequel to Christmas known as Easter


                        This sequel isn’t just a lame rehash of an old plot

-         new twist

-         new hope

-         resurrection of the dead

This sequel reminds us of everything dying in our lives

-         hopes

-         dreams

-         relationships

-         can be resurrected to new life in Christ Jesus

And, it gives us a choice to make our own sequel


Your life story, Part II

-         a sequel to our sinful, imperfect, disappointingly tragic


-         a sequel in which we have a chance for new hope

-         a sequel where we have a chance to get it right

-         a clean slate

-         a fresh start

o       courtesy of Jesus Christ

o       courtesy of the resurrection

Only in the sequel to Christmas known as Easter


VI        Christmas remains more popular, but this year, as the sun goes down, I’ll be turning on my Easter lights


-         to celebrate Easter


You see, I liked the original, but I love the sequel


Don’t You?