Welcome to the historic First Baptist Church of Memphis, serving Memphis & the Mid-South since 1839. You will find exciting ministries, mission opportunities, and vibrant worship.

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9:30am Sunday School
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200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131

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You Got to Rise Up

Easter is upon us, and as I was thinking about Resurrection, a couple of pop images came to mind.  The first was a catch phrase used by the late great Stuart Scott on ESPN.   Whenever he would do the commentary for a highlight clip of a homerun in baseball or a spectacular leaping grab in football or a dunk in basketball, he would often time punctuate the moment with the phrase, “And the Lawd said, ‘You got to rise up!’”   It’s a phrase that he heard in church as a young boy.   It’s a popular phrase which can be used in sermons on numerous texts, from Ezekiel’s dry bones to Jesus (Mark 2) or the disciples (Acts 3) healing a paralytic or one otherwise disabled.  

The second was Bruce Springsteen’s song, The Rising.   It’s a song which was written as an anthem of hope after the 9/11 tragedy.   It uses the image of rising in so many ways—of a fireman rising out of bed that morning, to then rise up the tower to his/her death, to then his/her rising up to heaven, and then the chorus which beckons the rest of us to rise up out of the ashes: 

Come on up for the rising. Come on up, lay your hand in mine. Come on up for the rising. Come on up for the rising tonight.

What struck me about both of these is how those who “rise up” play an intentional role in their own rising.  At Easter, we tend to experience the idea of rising from a distance--something that happened to Jesus way back then or something that will happen to all at the end of time, when we are only passively involved.  But these modern uses of the idea of rising in pop culture, especially the sports catch phrase (since it is based in scripture) remind us that we are involved here and now in our own daily resurrections.   Jesus’ resurrection provides hope for all that we need to “rise up” from and out of, not just the grave, but all the places of despair and grief and guilt and hopelessness in which we find ourselves.    And in those resurrections that happen here and now, we certainly have a part to play.

Think of those healings previously mentioned.  In both instances, the recipients were both told to rise up and walk.   They were healed.  Unlike before, they now could actually do that which Jesus or the disciples asked them to do.  But they didn’t have to.  Rising and walking are volitional acts.  They would actually have to tell their arms and limbs to rise up, and then choose to walk.  As absurd as it may seem, they could have chosen otherwise.  Gravity will let you remain on your back all your life if you want to stay there.   

So even before our grave, resurrection opens up a possibility for us, a hope-filled possibility of that which lies beyond whatever binds us, hampers us, holds us back, keeps us entombed.  

What might such  hope mean for you?  How might you step into that resurrection? What might such hope mean for us? How might we “come on up” to our own rising as First Baptist Church?  In light of our Vision Plan, how can we grow First Baptist and its influence?  How can we better reflect Christ through hospitality, community, dialogue, and  service?  

How can we consistently build for the future, build the church family, and build the community?  How can we step into the resurrection that God has already made possible for us?  What is your part in that plan?This Eastertide, FBC, let us respond to the call of God.  Let us follow the lead of Christ.  Let us rise up!

Grace, David


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the April edition of Together.
Posted by Bridget Ellis at 8:30 AM
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