It's too bad this Super Bowl didn't take place on Easter Sunday because every preacher in metro Atlanta would probably be preaching a sermon called "Rise Up!" It has been fun to see the Falcons get this far. I remember my father buying season tickets to the very first Falcons season. They went 3-11 that year. The best player was a linebacker named Tommy Nobis. The quarterback was Randy Johnson, and the wide receiver was a guy near the end of his career named Tommy McDonald who did not even wear a faceguard on his helmet! Over the years I have enjoyed the high points like the teams led by Steve Bartkowski (who I think still lives just down from JCPC on Bell Road), and the only other Falcons team to go to the Super Bowl while dancing the "Dirty Bird." But this year's theme "Rise Up!" is a good one. It reminds us of the myth of the Phoenix, which is the symbol of Atlanta, rising from the ashes after it was burned to the ground during the Civil War. Thankfully we have come a long way since that time in so many different ways!
But from the earliest of times, Christians gathered for worship on Sunday because it was the day of Christ's resurrection. Remember that the Jewish Sabbath was the day before. In one sense, every Sunday is Easter - the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If ever someone showed us what it was like to really "Rise Up" - it was Jesus. Christ's resurrection reminds us that God's love is stronger than death and that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus. For the believer, the resurrection points to the hope of a new, resurrected life beyond this one. But it also follows the crucifixion and the beginning of God's kingdom here on earth. So our primary focus is not on escaping this earth after death, but on serving God here and now. When we face trials, God promises that we are not alone. God also promises to help us "Rise Up" from the suffering we face in life.
So enjoy the game this Sunday - but every time you hear someone say" Rise Up" remember who did it first and what it means for you, me, and the whole world!
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, we thank that you chose to make Jesus "Rise Up" on the first Easter after he gave his life on the cross for each one of us - even the whole world! When we face trials, help us to trust you that somehow you will enable us to experience resurrection in our lives. And may we find at least one way this day to help raise up someone we meet who needs a helping hand. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the resurrected Christ. Amen.