If Holy Saturday is a day of quiet contemplation, a hush in our busy lives; then Easter is a shout of jubilation that shakes the foundation of our presuppositions about what makes a good life. As we’ve noted in previous years, this is a day that almost plans itself. There are traditions and expectations aplenty for Easter. It is good to let them be, to lean into what the congregation sees as powerful worship on this day when they bring far-flung family members home to church with them. It is hard to imagine being “too big” for worship on Easter Sunday. So, pull out the stops; shout from the rooftops. Let all the voices be heard; the children need to have a place or a song to sing. Young people can act out the story or bring a contemporary feel to the event. This is not a story only to be heard, but a story to be lived, to be performed. The more people involved in making Easter worship, the better.
But hearing the story is important too. Read it, proclaim it, sing it, perform it. Let it ring in our ears with awesome joy. We are stricken this day, not with fear, but the opposite of fear: with confidence, with certainty of faith. We claim the central truth of our faith, that Jesus the Christ is not dead but was raised and is alive. Our job this day is simply to embrace that promise and to live that joy. We stand in awe of the grace of God who would not leave us alone in our brokenness and sin, but provides the means for our redemption and the community who offers acceptance and healing.
So be awesome! Is that asking too much? Find a way to take people’s breath away, something that will make them want to say “amen” or applaud with tears in their eyes. Give a sense of hope and gratitude for them to take away and live with for a while. That sounds daunting, but it isn’t really. People have come to worship today, wanting their hearts to be warmed, their faith to be shored up. On this day, they are meeting you more than halfway. Bring them the rest of the way today. Set the stage with intent and with flair. Be as creative as possible, with simple resources, a bit of cloth, some flowers gathered from your own gardens, a stone, or an open door.
But while today is a day of rejoicing and celebration, it is also a call to move out. We are, above all things, followers – that’s what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We follow where he leads us; we go where he sends us. We move out into the world to live our proclamation in acts of service and in hospitality. To live in awe of grace is not to be stunned into inaction, but to live each day alive with possibility and hope, with love and with peace and longing for the kin-dom of God that brings justice and community and wholeness. Happy Easter.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.