I’ve got this Sunday’s sermon finished, and it’s not that great.
The Easter sermon is the hardest one to write. It’s nearly impossible. I struggle with it every year. It’s not for lack of effort. I began planning this year’s Easter sermon on our latest trip to Israel, almost a year ago. It occurred to me then that, if I showed the pictures from our tour of the historical site of Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem, I could stir our people to experience the thrill of the Resurrection that I’ve experienced. But it’s not working like I thought it would. It’s not enough.
Reinhold Niebuhr is quoted as saying he would always attend a “high” church on Easter Sunday where there would be great music but very little preaching. In his estimation, “No preacher is up to the task on Easter.” I think he’s probably right.
John Updike’s poem “Seven Stanzas at Easter” beautifully and perfectly identifies the cause of every preacher’s frustration leading up to Resurrection Sunday. One of the lines is: “Let us not mock God with metaphor, / analogy, sidestepping transcendence… / let us walk through the door.”
Yes, it is a waste of time to try to explain the Resurrection. Some things can’t be reduced to an explanation and are greatly diminished in the process of trying. The task on Easter is proclamation, not explanation. On Easter, the preacher should only offer an invitation to “walk through the door” into a brand new world where the ultimate reality isn’t death, but everlasting life in the One who brought our Lord Jesus out of the grave.
Proclaim the Resurrection. That’s what the apostles did. And that’s what we’ll do together at GCR Church this Sunday.