This is one of those Sundays that inspire the preacher to be at his/her best. The pews may be filled this Sunday like no other Sunday of the year. The theme is central to living the Christian faith. The scriptures, music and resources available for this Sunday are matched by no other season except Christmas (and that day does not usually fall on a Sunday). And though there is some commercialization of Easter, it is nothing like Christmas, so the Church has more control over the message. There is no better time to proclaim the Resurrection and what it means to live the Risen life. Easter Sunday begins a 50 day season that leads to Pentecost where the Church celebrates the victory of Jesus over the grave. This first Sunday should be a grand beginning.
- During the Season of Easter, the first reading in the lectionary is always from the Book of Acts. The season offers the best opportunity to peach from Acts of any time in the year. On Easter Sunday, I always try to read the Acts text and include it in the proclamation. It is one of the earliest and most succinct proclamations of the resurrection faith in the New Testament. Peter’s sermon becomes an outline for future proclamations of the resurrection.
- The Psalm for Easter Sunday is a Thanksgiving Psalm. Quite appropriate for a thankful Church. Lots of key verses for thinking about the joy of the Resurrection: O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!; The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone; This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
- Paul’s proclamation of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians is also one of those readings that is hard to leave out on Easter. One of the key points for me is that Paul is trying to delineate a credible witness list–Peter, the twelve, then more than 500 (most which were still alive). “If you don’t believe me, I can point you to hundreds of other folks that will testify to what they saw.” Paul proclaims the Resurrection so that others may come to believe. We are all beneficiaries of that proclamation.
- The lectionary gives a choice between Mark and John–I personally choose John. There are reasons for using Mark, but overall, it’s ending is unsatisfying as an Easter proclamation. John has more regal language and ends in hope rather than fear. Some of the key points in John’s retelling include these: Mary Magdalene is the first witness (this has all kinds of potential for the preacher); Peter and “the other” disciple are next in line (plenty of notes out there on who “the other” was and how he got there first); then the two return to their homes leaving Mary weeping outside an empty tomb; by staying behind, Mary witnesses a sight fit for a prophet; she thinks Jesus is a gardener, but she understands when she hears Jesus speak. She addresses Jesus as “Teacher” (or “my teacher”); Mary becomes the eyewitness for the disciples on that first Easter. There is plenty to chew on in this reading. Plenty to proclaim. It is the mystery of faith–Christ has died, Christ has Risen, Christ will come again.
- Information from Textweek.com
- Preaching Helps
- Richard Lischer (my preaching professor) does a great job of discussing that Easter lies at the heart of all serious ministry (Power of ministry)
- notes from Journey with Jesus