Good Friday and Easter Sunday were astonishing. I have once again discovered where my deepest joys are. I have once again been reminded of what my greatest gift is. I have once again tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
Preaching on Easter at Christ Church felt wonderful.
This may come as a surprise to some but there are two preaching occasions that I actually fear: Christmas and Easter. Both are so huge theologically that they feel unpreachable. How can I saw anything new or powerful on those days? The music carries the day on Christmas and Easter. The visuals in the church express the joy. Preaching feels like an anticlimactic afterthought.
However this Easter I was sitting on ready. I was actually pacing in the nave before the service began because I was so excited about what I had to say. I was able to pull out the stops and let it fly. I told my own story as a story of death and resurrection. It rang true. I have no idea how others took it but I was thrilled to deliver it.
I also gave my best shot to All Saints on Good Friday.
Being a part of that liturgy reminded me of something that used to happen back in the day. When I was in LA there used to be a Good Friday service that was hosted each year by one of the Black churches in South Central LA. It featured some of the most well known preachers in town. I remember the honor of being invited one year. At this service each of seven preachers would preach on one of the seven words of Jesus from the cross.
I remember the honor (and surprise) of being invited one year. I also remember shaking in my boots as I sat on the altar with the best preachers in the city. There were guys with TV shows and radio ministries that reached thousands. And there I was, a pastor from this little Lutheran Church.
But It was a great experience. Each preacher rose to the occasion. Each was inspired by the other. Each of us got up there and threw down. The best preaching I’d ever heard I heard that day. The church was so on fire at the end that people both wanted to stay and bask in the afterglow and also wanted to leave and spread the news about what had happened.
Being part of the All Saints Good Friday liturgy reminded me of that. Excellent preaching, wonderful music and time to reflect. I was humbled and honored to be a part of it. I also came to understand, at least a little, why All Saints is the place that it is.
As a result of those experiences, I am once again fired up about church and ministry. I’m ready to make another march into the land of vocational discernment. I’m riding high.