It has been a long time since I have gotten to preach regularly on Easter Sunday. For the first four years of my ministry in rural South Dakota, I preached every Sunday. But since coming to my current call, Easter has usually been the senior pastor's gig. I have had mixed feelings about that. I have felt wistful at never getting the experience of preaching to the large crowds at the first light of Easter morning every year; and I have felt (occasionally) a sort of relief that I didn't have the pressure of meeting my own extremely high expectations of an acceptable Easter sermon.
So, this year, the new senior pastor told me that I would be preaching on Easter. Excitement gave way to apprehension as Sunday drew nearer. I wrote and re-wrote, and thought and re-thought. I considered the large crowds. I am not proud to admit it, but I was having a mini-breakdown about my sermon, and how excellent I thought it ought to be.
I was doing a little pep talk with myself about it, trying not to think about the large crowds, and rationalizing, even. "it's just like every other Sunday, really," I told myself. Someone overheard, (perhaps even the senior pastor) and said:
"Every Sunday is Easter."
I've heard that before Every Sunday is Easter, a little celebration of the resurrection. Yep. That's why we don't count the Sundays in Lent as being "of Lent". That's why the early Christians designated Sunday as their day or worship in the first place. All right.
But that's not what we meant. At least, it's not what I meant, the more I thought about it.
Apart from the large crowds, what is it that makes the Easter sermon seem so daunting for some of us? Is it what we imagine is the more diverse crowd, perhaps containing more skeptics than usual? Is it that we might feel the need to prove the resurrection, somehow? Is it the sense that, just as the choir has been practicing and building up for this day, we also need to save 'our best stuff' for this occasion?
"Every Sunday is Easter."
There might not be large crowds every Sunday; in fact yesterday's diminished crowds have already proved that at my congregation. There might not be large crowds, but I'll wager that every Sunday you will have skeptics in your congregation. Every Sunday you will have people who don't want to be there, are wondering why in God's name they are there, and are daring you to say something that will make them think, or feel, or change.
Every Sunday is Easter, and there will be skeptics every Sunday, some of them daring you, and some of them praying that you say something that will make a difference. Every Sunday is Easter, and it is never possible to prove the resurrection, but it is always a good idea to testify to the difference that the resurrection makes in your life. Does it? That is the question to wrestle with, every day, every sermon, and in every part of our ministry.
Every Sunday is Easter, and you can't prove the resurrection, and there will always be skeptics, and sometimes the skeptic will be you.
And sometimes, the music is enough to get you through.
Not just on Easter. Every Sunday.