Peter began to speak to Cornelius and the other Gentiles: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ--he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
I get inspiration wherever I find it. Sometimes it looks for me. Sometimes I look for it. I look for it in scripture. I look for it in the Book of Common Prayer. And sometimes I look for it in movies. I have seen two movies recently that I would like to share with you.
Sherry and I went to see the movie Risen. It is the story of a centurion who has been ordered by Pontious Pilate to find the body of Jesus. Word is traveling through Jerusalem that Jesus rose from the dead but Pilate is pretty sure his followers somehow stole the body. The centurion looks and raids and comes up empty until later in the movie he does find Jesus but Jesus is not dead. He is alive. You might say this is a life changing moment for the Centurion and he becomes a disciple of Jesus.
Risen loosely follows the Book of Acts but it is largely fiction. There are even a couple of chase scenes.
Hollywood can't seem to stay away from chase scenes but this story, this work of fiction moved me and inspired me.
I was not a witness to the resurrection but I am still a believer. At the same time I understand why there are doubting Thomas's. During his mission on earth Jesus often spoke of the importance of faith and I believe the more you practice your faith, the deeper it becomes.
The other movie Sherry and I saw was Miracles From Heaven. It is a wonderful true story of a girl who is faced with a life threatening incurable illness and all the struggles she and her family went through to treat her disease. And then a miracle occurs. She is healed. I won't say any more about the movie but what I can say is that it affected me.
Both of these movies are well done and I encourage you to see them.
In Risen, the centurions life is changed in seeing the risen Lord. He becomes a man of faith. In Miracles From Heaven, the mother's faith was given new life through the miracle of her daughter's healing. In today's gospel we listen to the stories of those who witness the miracle of the risen Lord. I ask you to have faith that this story is real. Jesus rose from the dead and he walks with us as we travel on our journey to his heavenly kingdom.
On a final note. One of the last statements in the Miracle movie came from Albert Einstein. He said, “There are only two ways to live your life: you can live as if nothing is a miracle or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” When I look around me, all I see are things that baffle me and seem miraculous. Life itself is a miracle.