One of the clichés I found myself saying more than once during our children’s sermon program this Easter is that Jesus being resurrected from the dead changed everything. As I said it, I imagined a child asking me a classic children question, “How did Jesus coming back to life change things?” How, indeed.
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We were just about to enter the sanctuary with the paschal light when the pastor carrying the Christ candle turned around and said in a stage whisper, “Aaron is here.” At first I thought he’d said, “Karen is here,” which I already knew—she came to church on Easter even though her mother had died two days before. I must have had a weird look on my face because he said again, “Aaron is here.” And I knew that our second Easter service of the day would now be up for grabs.
"It's all about the process," I hear, over and over again, from my oldline comrades. This is a familiar refrain amongst us Presbyterians in particular, from pretty much every corner of the fading denominational churches.
I've been following with interest the conversation between Christian leaders about fixing the date of Easter to a particular day in the calendar—like the second or third Sunday in April. Back in January, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, voiced his support for the idea, joining leaders of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Coptic churches. Welby was even so bold as to suggest that the date of Easter could be fixed in as few as five or ten years, saying, "School holidays and so on are all fixed—it affects almost everything you do in the spring and summer. I would love to see it before I retire."
A few years ago I audited a class called Preaching and the Short Story. There was a story on the syllabus with Easter in the title, and I kept thinking I should read that before I wrote my Easter sermon.
Why do we eat soup during Lent? The question from a church member caught me a bit off guard as I was scrambling to get a few things together for a soup and bread Lenten lunch that our church was hosting last week. I don’t remember exactly how I responded. I think I vaguely gestured toward Lent being a season for embracing self-discipline and simplicity.
Our churches need more poetry. Especially during Holy Week. So this week, let us not be theologians or philosophers.
When Jesus first walked into my life, I didn’t notice. There was no parade, no palms, no shouts of hosanna. I just started going to Sunday school. A couple of years later, I felt my first call to ministry but I didn’t recognize that for what it was either.
A week ago it was my sister’s birthday. She would have turned 57, only she died at 31. As I do every year on her birthday, I talked about her with that kind of wistful memory marked by both joy and pain.
When I was in middle school and high school I wanted to go to one of the service academies. In order to help secure an appointment, I joined a military cadet program in seventh grade. In many ways it was a good experience, and so I am not naming the specific program here, as I believe it does teach many young people about leadership, self-discipline, and teamwork. But it was also through this program that I had an experience that taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.