I have an ugly confession to make. I don’t like preparing the Easter sermon. There. I said it. I wish it weren’t true. But it is. It’s not that I don’t have things I want to say. I do. It’s not that I’m not excited that a lot of people will be coming. I am. It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. I really do. It’s just that I feel the need to say something that everyone is already expecting me to say, and I need to say it simply, in a compelling way, and in an abbreviated time span.
I have preached the Easter sermon for over 15 years now. I feel like I have tried to hit a home run every year. I warm up in the batter’s box, I walk up to the plate, and I swing really, really hard. Perhaps I have gotten on base. Maybe even hit a double a time or two. But to be really honest (confession alert!), I drive away from the church parking lot every Easter Sunday underwhelmed with the message.
It’s not for lack of preparation. It’s not for lack of excitement. It’s not for lack of prayer. It’s not for lack of biblical content. It’s not for lack of powerful music. It’s not for lack of hard-working volunteers. I’m not quite sure why it is. But it is. I tend to be very underwhelmed with the Easter message every single year. Maybe it’s the congregation. Maybe it’s the preacher. Maybe it’s both. I don’t know. But considering this, here are some things I keep in mind as I prepare for the Easter Sunday sermon.
With all the excitement and preparations going into Easter weekend, it is so easy to put extra pressure on yourself. Add to that people are telling you all week long which family members who “never come to church” are coming on Sunday, and you feel like if you blow it, their eternal state is all your fault. Relax. Take a deep breath. It’s not your job to convert the masses. It’s your job to be faithful another week. That’s it.
This is true of most church members today, but especially the crowd who will attend on Easter: people do not know the Bible. They have heard bits and pieces of the gospel. But I can almost guarantee you that many, if not most, still don’t know the details surrounding the resurrection. AND, I can completely guarantee that 95% of the people in the pews on Easter don’t know how the resurrection impacts their everyday life. Go to the study during the week of Easter assuming your hearers don’t know much. Again, relax.
Serve People, Don’t Wow Them.
The people who come on Easter don’t need another show. They don’t need to get all excited one Sunday while being completely underwhelmed the next. They need to know there is a group of people who care. They need to know there are people who live within driving distance who are concerned about who they are and what they are dealing with. This isn’t an excuse not to plan or to do things with excellence. Please do. Especially on Easter. But at the end of the day, don’t forget that it’s about people. Wow them with the way you serve. Don’t hope they serve you as you wow them with your show.
Worship the Risen Christ.
This is for you, preacher. You will (probably) be leading worship in more services than normal on Easter Sunday. You will (probably) be leading a lot more people than usual on Easter Sunday. YOU will be responsible for helping a lot of people at many different times understand and worship the risen Jesus. Though I hope you worship your way through it on Sunday, if you’re like me, you will have a hard time. So, you MUST take time the week leading up to and the week coming out of Easter to personally worship the resurrected Jesus. Remind your own soul of the wonder of it. Spend time with the Jesus who is alive. This isn’t for the people (though they will be impacted by it). This is for you. Don’t forget to worship the risen Jesus—especially at Easter.
If you are anything like me, Holy Week and Easter Sunday bring with it a lot of stress and tension. I tend to forget that it should actually be treated as a huge celebration. If you think about it, for the Christian, Easter should be celebrated in a bigger fashion than Christmas! Having said that, let me simply encourage you, preacher, to have fun. Enjoy it. Don’t let the details and the crowds get in the way of you enjoying what all of it means for the believer.
I am going to do my best to enjoy the preparation and delivery of the Easter sermon. I would ask that you pray for me to be able to do just that. What are some practices you have learned to help me and other preachers enter into Easter week?