Preaching Easter

Jesus, resurrectionEaster is coming up. The last Sunday in March (there are five this year) is Palm Sunday and the first Sunday in April is Easter. The dates are March 29th and April 5th. Those of you that observed Ash Wednesday and/or the season of Lent are aware of these dates already, as well as anyone planning church activities and worship services. And it is those individuals – pastors, preachers, minsters and directors of music, all worship leaders – that I wish to address.

I spent several years in a ministry that included a daily chapel service. Not only did we observe Palm Sunday and Easter but we had the opportunity to celebrate each day of Holy Week. We could talk about the Triumphal Entry on Sunday and focus on the different aspects of Jesus’ final teachings with the Apostles each day that week. We could give a full day to the Last Supper, another to the arrest and false trial, and spend Good Friday detailing the events of the crucifixion. With all of that said and done the focus of Easter Sunday was entirely on celebrating the resurrection. Continue reading

Resurrection Sunday

Jesus, resurrection

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:22-24 ESV)

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Thoughts on Holy Week: Good Friday

good friday

If this is the day Jesus died, why is today good?

In the sense it is used good means holy when we say Good Friday. It is also called Great Friday, Holy Friday and Easter Friday in other traditions around the world. This is the day we commemorate Jesus as the atoning sacrifice. Holy Week is a time of preparation and consecration that seeks to take things one step at a time. Don’t jump ahead to the celebration; today is about the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Today we observe the crucified savior. If you’ve been reading the Gospel accounts all week, save that last chapter for Sunday. Continue reading

Thoughts on Holy Week: Consecration

Consecrate – make or declare something sacred; dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose.

Holy Week is a time to fully devote ourselves for a specific religious purpose, which is celebrating the death, burial and resurrection. Old Testament priests were consecrated for their service in the tabernacle, and all the congregation of Israel consecrated themselves for three days before meeting God at Sinai. That time of preparation for a special encounter is exactly what Holy Week is about. Like the Advent season before Christmas Day, Holy Week is a period of time during which we prepare for a special worship celebration. We take special care to draw near to God (James 4:8) as he draws near to us. Continue reading

Thoughts on Holy Week: Prayers of Jesus

Jesus prayingThe Bible records several different occasions on which Jesus prayed. He taught the disciples to pray, though the Lord’s Prayer is something of a misnomer; we should rightly call that the Model Prayer or even the Disciples Prayer. Jesus always spent extra time in prayer before a big event, sometimes praying all night. He regularly went out alone very early each morning to pray, and even though he had some harsh words regarding public prayer we have a few of his prayers recorded, including the High Priestly Prayer of John 17. But every year at this time there is always one in particular I come back to. Continue reading