00:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.
00:06 Well, good morning and happy Easter everybody. It is so great. It is really a joy, to be with you today, from, those watching online also to those in the room. we are just thrilled that you're here. My name is Evan. I'm one of the senior pastors. There are three of us, pastor Steve today is over in the overflow with our overflow crowd folks today. And, on behalf of all three of us, as well as our team here at Westside, we just wanna say, thank you for spending your Eastern morning with us. before I begin, I know many new faces in the crowd. I wanna introduce my family very briefly if I can. I, I think we have a photo here. this is Jack he's four years old. that's our daughter, Clara, who is 10 and that's my wife, Alyssa, who is older than that. We'll just leave it there.
01:02 Well, like I said, we know there's many folks that are here maybe for the first time, to west side, maybe, the first time in a long time into a church or, or a religious setting like this. And we know, that, it can be an, sometimes, maybe unfamiliar or uncomfortable to be in settings like this. And so we want to extend a warm welcome to all of our guests, but especially those who maybe feel a little, not at ease in a space like this. we want to make sure that, you know, from the bottom of our hearts who are welcome here, a story goes that a man a long time ago was caught sinning. And so he was publicly excommunicated from his church. And after being turned away at the du of the church, he brought his complaint to God. He said, Lord, they won't let me in because I'm a sinner. And the story goes that God responded, why are you upset? They won't let me in either.
01:58 I'll put it this way. today, like any day, if we wanna welcome Jesus into his church, we also need to make room for his friends. I'm confident in, as I, as I read the story of Jesus and I've read the story of Jesus over and over again. And by the way, if you're wondering what we're about here at Westside, that's it, it's the story of Jesus. We, we double down and triple down and continue to return again and again, to the story of Jesus, Jesus, it's everything we're about. and as I read the story of Jesus again and again, I'm confident, that he invites us all, into a place of relationship, right? Relationship with him. we have this, deep sense today, that we are not just a church that is for sinners. You know, that that has outreach programs for sinners. We're a church that is attended by sinners and is pastored by sinners. And when we come together, we are all together reliant on the grace and the mercy of Jesus and the gospel of resurrection power that we're celebrating here today on Easter. It's for all of us. Isn't that beautiful? Yeah.
03:09 And so when Jesus in Matthew, chapter 11, he said, come to me, all you who are weary and heavy late, and I will give you rest for your souls. He that there would be moments when we would be weary when we would be heavy Laden when we would need rest. And he makes room and space for us when we are weary and burdened to be with him. And so I'm convinced that if you feel that way, if you feel weary, if you feel distant from God out, knowing what Jesus did in the gospels, he would welcome you as a friend without hesitation. And that's the hope we have today. Let me pray for us as we begin, Lord, we thank you For a sense of, of deep and enduring joy that is in this place today. not because we just kind of try to hype ourselves up into a place of happiness. But because today we remember, and we recognize, there's wonder in this world because Jesus, you are alive. Let's your power and your peace be with us today in Jesus name. Amen. Well, spring is here. I don't know if you know that
04:22 Spring is here. It's actually been here for a month. Can you believe that almost a month it's been spring, anybody shovel their driveway yesterday?
04:31 I don't know what you shovel the driveway in the spring normally, but it shouldn't be snow.
04:37 It's funny. my backyard during, the 2020 in the summer, 2020, like many of us probably spent a lot of time at home. And so we planted a lot of plants and, and some trees in our backyard, but it's shaded. And so even after other things bloom in the spring, our backyard is, is one of the last spaces at our house to come to life. And so, today it looks really bad. I mean, there's, there's last year's plants and flowers still there. Are you supposed to trim those back? I don't know. We don't do it.
05:55 And so we look today at the gospel and the story of the resurrection and in this, story, there is another garden. Mark's gospel tells us that on the morning of the resurrection on Sunday, these followers of Jesus, the women who had followed him through his crucifixion set out for the garden and in this garden was the tomb of Jesus. The gospel tells us they're carrying spices. They intended to go and embalm and, and prepare his body for burial in the tomb. When they get there, they don't find a dead body. They find an empty tomb and an angel, and the angel says this, and we, we read the angels will words in mark chapter 16, verse six says he isn't here. He has risen from the dead look. This is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there just as he told you before he died as it interesting, that Jesus gives them like instructions instead of just showing up for everybody. I, I don't know that I've, I've really processed this reading through the story before, but instead of finding the disciples, where're there. I'm, by the way, if I just come back from the dead, I'm like trying to find everybody like, check this out. Look what I just did.
07:23 Instead Jesus, through the angel, give the disciples instructions to meet him in a different place in Galilee about a day's journey away. Why would Jesus give them instructions? You know what? Gale represented than just a spot on the map for these disciples of Jesus, the disciples who had followed Jesus, for several years now would remember that Galilee was the place where they first met him. Galilee was the place along the, the shores of the sea of Galilee, where, where these, the, these young kids were just living their lives and thinking about careers and trying to decide how they were gonna make it in their world. When Jesus walked up and he began one by one to say, come follow me. Galilee was a place where their hearts first burned. When they heard his voice calling their names. Galilee was the beginning of it. All Galilee represented a place where hope was born. It came alive and here they are. Now, the disciples of Jesus have just gone through the horror of Friday, as they've watched their friend and Messiah. And the one that they had pinned, all their hopes on, be murdered and crucified in front of their eyes. They're in a place where all hope in this man had been dashed. And so the instruction comes, I'm not gonna find you here in this place of hopelessness disciples, meet me back where it all began. Go to Galilee.
08:56 I dunno about you. I've been in the Christian game a long time. Can we call it a Christian game? I don't know if that's,
09:05 Been doing this a long time, Trying to follow Jesus, believing in him, wrestling through doubts, Finding myself in moments of hope and moments of hopelessness. And in those moments, when things kind of feel like, I don't know if I want to continue on, we hear the voice of Jesus, meet me back where it all began. It's interesting that For us
10:04 Now, typically in a sermon like this, especially with some new folks in the room, this is where I would say, and now here are six things I need you to do to become a part of Westside. Church. Ushers are gonna come forward. We're gonna take a little collection, just a little collection. No we're not gonna do right now. We might go through, you know, the events, calendar, and talk through about classes and, and community groups that you can join. And the next service that you should come back for after Easter and all that stuff is wonderful and great. And, and we do it, But there's more to the story that happens in this moment, because I doubt that you came here today on Easter Sunday to find out about our events calendar. We have a website for that folks you could have, could have not bought those nice clothes you bought for today, But there's more to this story. And I think that there's more for us Than just instructions. Something else happened in the garden, outside that whom on that morning on Easter Sunday. And we get this from, John's telling a little bit more detail of what happened. It says Mary Magdalene turned to leave the garden and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn't recognize him. Dear woman, why are you crying? Jesus asked her, who are you looking for?
11:25 She thought he was the gardener. I love how Jesus is mistaken for the gardener, sir. She said, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him and I will go and get him. Can you hear the desperation in Mary's voice as if she could likely carry his body by herself? But she's so desperate. Like where is the one I love? He responds to Mary Jesus said, and she turned to him and she cried out rabbi and I, which is Hebrew for teacher in the bigness of this day. I mean, angels are showing up. Stones are rolling away. Dead bodies are coming back to life In all the bigness. There's this really beautiful, small moment
12:14 Between Jesus and someone that Jesus loved deeply. It's interesting. after the, the angel speaks to the women, it doesn't say, and the women were thrilled and excited and they understood everything that was happening. And they went back and they said, guys, it happened. He came back to life just like he said, no, it says they were confused. They were terrified. And they were overwhelmed, pretty normal response in this moment of intensity. And so Mary's here and she's weeping and she doesn't know. And the angel said that, but still, how can that be? And, and Jesus is missing and all these feelings and emotions and she's overwhelmed. And then the Angel's like, and by the way, you gotta go to Gale. Just trust me on that. Just go to gal, see what happens. She's like, great. Another thing on my to-do list. Okay. Print out the map. Quest, do you remember MapQuest? Do you remember when we used to print out directions in my, yeah. You remember that right? Highlight, you know, I have to go to Gale to see him. Oh. And then Jesus, in his great love for Mary lingerers, He could have made her weight like the other disciples, to, to go back to Gale Mary would've seen him with everybody else there that would've been fine,
13:33 But it said he encounters her there in the garden right in that moment. And so is the first and the only in this moment to see Jesus, No travel required. She didn't have to prove what she believed. She didn't have to explain what was going on and how it lined up with old Testament prophecies. None of that, she simply was there overwhelmed and Jesus broke through her fear and said her name. this passage, this story of marrying the garden reminds me of a night, a little over a year ago. It was late at night. And, listen, the kids had gone to bed and I went down to the kitchen, to get some cereal. Don't judge me.
14:22 It's central Oregon. Some of you are like, I haven't looked at a CARF since 2004. Good for you. Good for you. That's your story. This is my story. I went down at 11:00 PM to eat some Cheerios. Thank you, Ben. I, I opened the pantry and I, I step in and I reach for the box of cereal and immediately I know something's wrong cause I lift the box up and maybe you've experienced this. Someone had eaten all the Cheerios and put the box back empty into the pantry. people that know me, well, my friends and family, folks that work here at the church alongside me, might say I'm many things overly, emotionally expressive is probably not one of them, But in this moment, I'm, I'm,
15:49 In those weeks. And so after that news, you know, you try to be strong and you gotta be tough and, and not to prove anything just to hold up To be the husband I had to be and to be the father I had to be. And, and then Steve was like, oh, and we have three senior pastors now. And I'm like, oh, great, more pressure
17:04 As I wept. And I don't, I don't know how it all works. And I understand for many, you'll be skeptical of that story. But I honestly believe this, that the risen Jesus lingers in places of fear and grief and uncertainty where we're afraid and overwhelmed, Jesus still shows up. He turns tombs into gardens. He turns pantries into gardens. He turns places where you don't go into gardens.
17:38 And if tomorrow represents Gale where you figure out your spirituality and you get on a chorus and you, you know, you set all of your, your resolutions and this is how I'm gonna be, and this is how I'm gonna live. And, and I want to be this kind of person if that's tomorrow and that's Galilee, that is beautiful and wonderful. And we will support you 100%. But today, today, maybe you're just by the tomb, feeling overwhelmed and feeling fearful and feeling uncertain. I have the best news. The risen Jesus shows up for you. He linger in the garden for you. Nothing is required from you except to be present and hear his voice, say your name. And when he says our name, My prayer is that we'd recognize him. Why, why a garden? Why is this? It's so important? You know, there's a garden back in the very beginning of the Bible, two Way back in the first book book of Genesis, The story goes that God creates humanity man, and woman. And he places them in another garden. And then he walks with them. He is beside them, says that every evening in the cool of the day, God would walk with a man and the woman.
18:56 And you know, there's a lot of debate on like, what's the purpose of the creation story in Genesis and, and, and what does it mean? And, and all that stuff. Here's what I take away from the story in Genesis is that God really, really, really intended us to be with him. And so from the very beginning, here's the ingredients, us God in a garden, But things went sideways and the sin came in and death was on its tail. And so we moved outta the garden and God moved outta the garden And that relationship was broken and lost. And this is the hope of Easter. This is why we're here Is because when Jesus walked out of that tomb and set foot in another garden, He did it to restore what was broken and lost that once again, God could walk with us. Our response today Is not to recite a prayer. Fingers crossed that we get a free pass outta hell. Someday when we die. Our, a response rather is to welcome the gardener into those dead places of our hearts to do his best work Right today, right here, right now, as pastor Ben said that we're not here just because heaven is someday. And we hope to get there. We are here because heaven has come in the person of G Jesus. And when we didn't know what to think,
20:35 Jesus spoke our name Because I believe that Jesus rose, I have hope for me. And I have hope for you. And I have hope for Alyssa. And I have hope for all those who weep and mourn all those who are overwhelmed. All those who are uncertain, that when everything looks dead, When everything looks weathered, when everything looks like winter, all is not lost. Maybe, maybe, maybe it's just a little early In one of the books we read to our kids. There's a line that always makes me think about the hope that we are celebrating and remembering today. And this is the line that gets me every time it says I have come home at last. This is my real country. I belong here. This is the land I've been looking for all my life though. I never knew it till now. So come further up and come further in My prayer for us, for you, For the person that's been in church for the last 30 years and the person who's here for the first time Is that you would encounter the risen of Jesus and feel more at home, More alive Than ever before.
22:02 Would you pray with me, Jesus today We, are reminded of these places in our hearts that feel like a winter garden, Where death is, has maybe creeped in. And we feel like I don't, I don't think this was the intent, but here's where we're at. Jesus, today we invite the resurrection power of Jesus into our hearts. We, we invite just like spring is on the way we invite the presence of Jesus to be on the way today, to raise us back to life With your heads, still, bow with your eyes closed. we do want to invite, if you want to make a, a, a commitment to explore this, to pursue this, to take a chance and reach out to Jesus today and invite him in to be that gardener of your heart, your life,
23:03 To open your heart and your life up to the presence of Jesus. Just a little bit of a faith, just a little bit of belief today, but you want to take that step? I wanna invite you to raise your hand. not because it won't work if you don't, but because sometimes when we physically respond to Jesus, we'll remember this moment. So if that's you and you say, I wanna commit my life and make a decision to pursue Jesus in the days ahead, would you just raise your hand right now? No one looking around just me and you and Jesus. Yeah. See your hand. Anybody else? Yeah. See you. Anybody else, anybody else, Jesus, for those deciding and committing to follow after you to explore this thing, faith in Jesus, in the resurrected Jesus, I pray for strength and for grace. And if that's you today, you wanna make that decision. You can just whisper this prayer in your heart. Jesus. I give myself to you, help me believe, help me believe. And the beautiful thing is that Jesus does all the heavy lifting. So Jesus, we give these moments, this church, our relationships, our friendships
24:19 To you. We love you so much. And we thank you that you've lingered here today to be with us.