March 23 – What if E.T. Never Phoned Home, But Jesus Did Rise from the Dead?

I receive promotional emails from a company called Wing Clips. I like Wing Clips. One of the services they provide is access to video clips for use in sermons or lessons. The clips are legal, of high quality and inexpensive. Wing Clips is a nice thing to know about.

Another of Wing Clips’ options that I have not used and promise never to use is a sermon outline service. Of course, they suggest that you purchase one of their video clips, but along with it they provide a detailed outline of the sermon you should preach, even a scripture passage to make the movie clip theologically legitimate. I suppose it beats plagiarism.

So yesterday I received a promotional email from Wing Clips with the subject line: FREE Sermon Outline – Excited about Easter?

Really? There’s a preacher somewhere who doesn’t know what to say on Easter? Hint: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20.

But for those of us having a hard time coming up with something to preach on Easter, there’s always E.T. As an Easter present, Wing Clips is giving us a free three-minute clip from the old Spielberg classic and a sermon outline for preachers too busy to write an Easter sermon on their own. You may view it here. For free. And with two week’s notice, it means I don’t even have to think about worrying about an Easter sermon. Ocean City, here I come.

In the clip from the movie, Eliot, the ten-year old boy who befriended the extra-terrestrial, is in the lab where the calloused scientists have caused the death of the little alien; they don’t realize that even little aliens need lots of love. Eliot is given a few last minutes to be alone with the apparently dead E.T. He says, “I love you,” and turns to walk away. At that very moment a strange light begins to glow – right from E.T.’s heart, I think – and Eliot rushes back to the lab table just in time to hear E.T.’s weak, but getting stronger every second, voice say, “E.T. phone home.”

Who needs “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen,” when you have “E.T. phone home”?

Most likely I will skip Ocean City this coming Easter week.  I’ll stay home and work on an Easter sermon.  I’m planning on preaching from Mark 16, that strangely abbreviated account of the resurrection that ends with three women who loved Jesus astonished and afraid. I am hoping that the message will speak hope and joy into the hearts of many who do not regularly worship the Risen Christ and who live in a world of much fear and frightening astonishment.

If the story of the resurrection is not true, if it is a First Century version of a happy-ending story like E.T, then it has no hope of joy to offer our Twenty-first Century world. If the story of the resurrection is light spiritual fiction in the way that E.T. is light science fiction, then, in fact, our hope and joy is fiction. As the Apostle Paul says, “we are of all people most to be pitied.”

If the story of the resurrection is not true, then you might as well spend April 8, that early spring Sunday, at Ocean City.

But we insist with Paul and a great cloud of witnesses that, in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead and that “even so in Christ shall all be made alive…” It is, for sure, an astonishing and sometimes fearful mystery, but it is true. And since it is true – so much truer than some sweet scene from an old movie – we will worship with joy and hope on Easter morning.  Who will you invite to join you?