Sunday’s Comin’! – July 12, 2020
July 12, 2020
I’ve entitled this sermon for today, “Sunday’s Comin’!” And I begin with a disclaimer. This is not my own idea, but one that I’ve heard before, and maybe you have, too. I first heard it years ago in a sermon by Tony Campolo. And later Tony wrote a book by that title, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’!” Maybe you read it.
But it wasn’t Tony’s idea either. He attributed the idea to a prominent African American preacher of the last century named S. M. Lockridge. Tony had heard him preach that sermon and it got the whole idea going. And I’m glad to add my part today.
Also, those of you who come to our contemporary service may remember a similar message in one of the songs that we sing, called “Sunday.” And I think it was inspired by this! It’s about the difficulties of this life, and how, in the words of the chorus, “Sunday, Hallelujah, it’s not so far, it’s not so far away.” Maybe you remember that song. If this service today was a regular service in our sanctuary, that song would definitely be on the list!
So, I was thinking last week, that this would be a great “next step” in our journey through Holy Week. In fact, that thought has stayed with me all week, like a song I couldn’t get out of my head! And Patty will tell you, that happens to me all the time! There’s always a song that I can’t get out of my head!
This stuck with me, because I think this is what comes naturally on the heels of my message from last week, the sermon entitled, “Devastation.” If you haven’t heard that one – and if you’re not watching this “live” – I would suggest that you go back now and watch that one. And then come back to this one. If you are watching this live, stay with us! Don’t leave now! But do go back and see that video again, and I think you’ll see what I mean.
The gist of that sermon is that the disciples were devastated by what happened on Thursday night and Good Friday. They abandoned Jesus in the Garden. They ran off when the soldiers arrested him. But they didn’t abandon him out of fear alone. Yes, they were afraid! And, at that moment, fear may have been a big motivator. But the overall feeling on Friday, and even through Easter and beyond, was one of devastation. Their world had come crashing down, and they had lost everything! And like the Elton John song I quoted, “Losing everything is like the sun going down on me!”
What I want you to see today, is that so much changed on Easter morning. And that’s because so much had changed on Friday. And it was more than just “losing everything.” It was more than just the ministry of Jesus coming to an end. On Friday, the forces of evil had won! Or at least they thought they had. And I find myself wondering about that! Did they think it was over and their “victory” was complete and irreversible? And I’m talking here about the forces of evil, the forces of evil in the spiritual realm.
You see, I believe there was more going on on Good Friday than just the visible act of the Romans executing a prisoner. This was the forces of evil, however you name them. This was the demonic beings Jesus had fought during his ministry and cast out on a number of occasions. Did they think they had won on Friday? Or did Satan and all his demons realize – at some point – that they may have been playing right into God’s hand? In other words, is this like what we said in talking about Judas, that “he had to do what he did,” in order for God’s plan to be accomplished. Do we included the forces of evil in that?
There’s a thought for you! And I don’t have an answer for that. But I want you to think about what was happening on Good Friday in the spiritual realm. I wanted to “throw that into the mix.” Because it was part of what happened, part of what changed on Friday, that made all that changed on Easter Sunday so earth-shaking!
So much changed in those three days. It went from a total and complete defeat, to a total and complete victory. Another song was running through my head this week. It’s a song by James Taylor’s called “Angels of Fenway.” Do you know the song? Google it! It’s a song about the 2004 Boston Red Sox who were down three games to nothing to the Yankees in the playoffs. They needed four wins in a row, over one of the best teams in baseball, in order to make it to the World Series. And they still had “the curse of the Bambino” hanging over their heads. That is, they hadn’t won the World Series since 1918, when they sold the “Bambino” – Babe Ruth – to the Yankees! So that playoff series was essentially over. And if you remember it, they came back to win four in a row! And they went on to win the series and “break the curse!”
Now, I don’t mean to belittle the Easter event by talking about baseball, although baseball is mentioned in the Bible, you know – in the very first verse of Genesis! “In the Beginning…” But that victory, when it seemed all was lost, is the image I wanted to help us see today! So much changed in those three days, from Good Friday to Easter morning!
I’d like to read to you an excerpt from Dr. Lockridge’s sermon “Sunday’s Comin’.” And please understand that I’m not trained in the African American, firebrand, “interactive” preaching style. I love it! But it’s not my style. So, in no way do I do justice to this in terms of delivery. But I want you to hear what Dr. Lockridge said. So here we go…
“It’s Friday. See Jesus walking to Calvary. His blood dripping. His body stumbling. And his spirit’s burdened.
But you see, it’s only Friday. Sunday’s comin’.
It’s Friday. The world’s winning. People are sinning. And evil’s grinning. It’s Friday. The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross. And then they raise him up next to criminals.
It’s Friday. But let me tell you something… Sunday’s comin’.
It’s Friday. The disciples are questioning. What has happened to their King? And the Pharisees are celebrating that their scheming has been achieved.
But they don’t know. It’s only Friday… Sunday’s comin’.
It’s Friday. He’s hanging on the cross. Feeling forsaken by his Father. Left alone and dying. Can nobody save him?
Ooooh, it’s Friday… But Sunday’s comin’.
It’s Friday. The earth trembles. The sky grows dark. My King yields his spirit. It’s Friday. Hope is lost. Death has won. Sin has conquered. and Satan’s just a laughin’.
It’s Friday. Jesus is buried. A soldier stands guard. And a rock is rolled into place.
But it’s Friday. It is only Friday… Sunday’s a comin’!
I’ve heard audio excerpts from that, and it’s chilling. And to me it solidifies the earth-shaking change from Friday, to Sunday. And again, we know the end of this story. We know the glorious hope that was so close! But none of those people saw it coming. To them death was final. Jesus was defeated. His ministry, his movement, was stopped in its tracks. The disciples would go back to fishing – once they came out of hiding that is. For now, they were “laying low, waiting for the heat to die down.” (That’s what they used to say in the old westerns!)
I really think that’s how total this defeat must have seemed! Again, it’s hard for us to know that, being on the Easter side of Holy Week. But as I suggested last week, maybe we’ve had our own Good Friday, our own “dark night of the soul.” Maybe we’ve been in a place in our lives where we were unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we’ve had our times when we’ve felt what the disciples felt, what the whole world felt, that fateful Friday. That it was over! It was all over!
I’ve never felt comfortable calling it “Good Friday.” I know the reasons for that title, that it was the final battle, the setup for this great victory. But calling it “Good” has always seemed incongruous to me. And it still does! It was an awful Friday! I think “Black Friday” would be more fitting. But we already use that to describe the day after Thanksgiving, don’t we? Maybe we could switch them.
As I’ve said, we’ve all had times of hopelessness, times when it seemed there was no light at the end of the tunnel, like the sun had gone down on us. Maybe it’s now. I keep thinking over and over again, who knew? Who knew we would be doing this quarantine thing this long? Maybe it seems like it’s never going to end. And I also keep wondering what this would have been like, if not for the technology we have now? Would it have been like the Spanish Flu of 1918? Or worse?
I was reading about that this week. The Spanish flu was another of the H1N1 strain – like the swine flu. But they knew very little about how to fight it. And it went through 4 waves over two years! And the death toll was staggering. I thank God what we know now about these things now!
I also did some reading about the great storm of 1900, the hurricane that destroyed Galveston Texas. That’s still the worst hurricane in US history, as far as the toll in human life. Modern storms like Katrina may have been worse, but now we have weather satellites and storm tracking and communication that they couldn’t even dream of!
I keep wondering what might have happened in the current crisis if we didn’t have the things we have today! And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for what we have now to keep us connected as the Church! I’m grateful for the ways we have been able to continue to “be the church,” even though we cannot be together as the church. I have to admit, I was somewhat skeptical of the “on line” thing at first. And I’m still not completely comfortable preaching to a cell phone. But remember, when I was born, it was before Sputnik had been launched! Things have come a long way in my lifetime! I’ve seen a lot of great changes take place! And looking back on the last three months, I’m very grateful! What would we have done as the Church, if this all happened 20 years ago? I shudder to think!
So, in a sense, we’re in a version of Good Friday. The “microscopic enemy” is all around us, and we’re not “out of the woods” on this. Some things are improving, but in many ways the fight will go on, in some form, for some time. But I want us to know today, that “Sunday has Come!” As God’s people, we have that hope to rely on! And we have that hope to show to the world. Things may look dark, but no matter what it looks like on Friday, oh let me tell you, “Sunday’s Comin’!”
Eternal God, we stand in awe of your great love for us. We thank you that through Jesus you defeated death and brought us back to you. Help us to live in the hope of your kingdom, knowing the one who gave us that hope in his great victory. This we ask in in his name, Amen.