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Happy Easter!  He is risen!  We are excited about Easter morning and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus!  The resurrection is what separates the Christian faith from any other.  It not simply that Jesus came back to life, while this is wonderful and spectacular, other individuals in the scriptures came back to life!  The resurrection of Jesus was different because it confirmed the great narrative of redemption for all of humanity.  Jesus was the Lamb of God offered on the cross to take away the sins of the world.  The bodily resurrection of Jesus is the assurance that John 3:16 is for all of us: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)  Jesus was the “first harvest” of those who have died.  How do we know?  After the Easter morning he would continue his relationship with his disciples.  Easter morning was transitional for the disciples but the experience of Christ after the resurrection was transformational! Our scripture for this Easter is Acts 9:1-9.  This is a well-known passage because it is the conversion of the Apostle Paul (formerly Saul) but it is also Paul’s post-resurrection encounter with Jesus.  The sermon for Easter is The Power to Change and that power is seen in this moment of encounter between Paul and Jesus.  We may discount that these words will help us change, because we think a blinding light and a voice would be far more compelling for us to change our lives.  If we look closer, we will find that this moment is not only inspirational but also instructive. Jesus still encounters us to give us the power to change and this account helps us to live into resurrection power!  This is our prayer for you this Easter that God will give you the courage to believe that the same power that brought Jesus from the dead is able to transform your life and your circumstances! 

Acts 9:1-9:  Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. (NIV)