In the days before Easter, preachers find themselves ricocheting back and forth between anticipation of full-to-overflowing sanctuaries and anxiety about being up to the task. In the case of the people who make it to church only on Easter, the preacher has only one shot; we want to make it count.
The challenge is that we live in a Good Friday world. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann, who was conscripted at age 17 into the German army and witnessed the firebombing of his hometown of Hamburg, in which 40,000 civilians were killed, wrote that “Good Friday is the center of the world.” But he also wrote that “Easter morning is the Sunrise of the coming of God and the morning of new life and the beginning of the future of the world. The laughter of the universe is God’s delight. It is the universal Easter laughter in heaven and earth.”