April 15, 2012: EASTER 2.0: When tax day isn’t taxing

Posted on : Apr 12th, 2012 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

There is no “low or slow Sunday” after Easter at West Hollywood Church!  This coming Sunday is full of Joy and the unexpected.  It’s Easter 2.0.  We will continue the celebration of Resurrection in our lives as we continue “Rising” with the Risen Christ.

This week we have another first!   Artist and all-around creative girl, Emma B, is producing our first WH Utube video.  Em has spent the last weeks interviewing some of you with the question, “What does the resurrection mean to you?”  This Sunday we’ll see the edited version!  Totally cool.

We also will receive New Members and Celebrate the Baptism of Hortensia Ruiz.  This New Members Class is the first class in the history of our church (which is pretty wild and untraditional) in which a majority of the class is Hispanic/Latin-American.  Awesome!

And in honor of Mike Hargrove’s 30th birthday, Mark’s family will be here to celebrate.   Mark’s dad, Jorge Abulencia, will be playing with our worship band and singing the Offertory.

As if that were not enough, I’m going to preach a sermon that is bound to get people talking.  Since Sunday is April 15th (the day that our Income Taxes are usually due) I thought I’d preach about “Taxing.”  We’ve all heard the sayings, “The only thing sure in life is death and taxes.”  Well, if God make something new out of death, maybe we can change our attitude about taxes as well.

Last year the “Occupy” movement started an intense discussion in America about the 1% vs. the 99%.  Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, two of the three richest persons in the world (yes, the whole world!) have redirected the conversation about wealth. They speak quite similarly to those in the “Occupy” movement.  But long before Buffet, Gates and the Occupy movement, the world’s wealthiest have demonstrated humanitarian giving and philanthropy in both the use and giving of wealth.

There is one person in the crucifixion story who is named every year, but his gift is quite glossed over.  Maybe it’s because the gift was used for such a short period of time, but without it, the story of Jesus’ resurrection would be radically different.  Can you guess who this is?

One clue.  “He” (it’s a male) is a very, very wealthy person who in the midst of the chaos of the crucifixion gives Jesus and his family an unbelievable gift – a gift that only the 1%, the wealthiest in that time in history had.

His name is Joseph of Arimathea [Air-ih-mah-THEE-ah].  And what was his gift?  The tomb in which Jesus was buried.  This man, whose story is glossed over so often, is mentioned in all four Gospels:  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which means everyone in the early Christian Church was greatly touched by Joseph’s action!   Without Joseph’s giving, Jesus would have been buried in the desert as all peasants were.  Joseph’s gift was an amazing gift of generosity and a deep expression of caring.

As we look for the resurrection of our country and our world – moving from economies of debt to financial health and stability, we need to be careful not to demonize the wealthy.  From a Christian perspective wealth is value-neutral.  In fact, in both Christian and Jewish tradition, all wealth actually belongs to God.  We just have our wealth “for a time.”  As the old sayings goes, “You can’t take it with you.” However, many of us wouldn’t mind helping God out by managing a little more of God’s bounty!  But seriously, what counts in the Christian tradition is what we do with our wealth and how resources are shared especially with the poorest of the poor.

This Sunday we’re going to have a little more fun than normal as we play the wealth game.  Can paying taxes feel less taxing?  Can we rise above partisan bickering so that the Impossible is Possible?  If God can transform death into New Life, I think there’s a good chance God can help us discover that the Impossible is Possible.

Join us for Easter 2.0.

Easter Blessings,



~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Matthew 27: 50-62

Joseph of Arimathea buries the body of Jesus in his own new tomb.

And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.  (Jesus died.)

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split and many of the bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of other tombs after Christ’s resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

When the centurion and those who were with Jesus, keeping watch over him, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the child of God!”

There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph (and Jesus), and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.  He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.  And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher.


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