One of the most powerful, somber, and life-giving seasons is upon us. And even though you may already be thinking all things egg-dying and Easter bunny visiting, the resurrection season is so much more meaningful than Little Bunny Foo Foo sing-a-longs and Cadbury chocolate egg feasting. The heart of the Christian gospel speaks of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the foundation upon which we stand and live. Oftentimes, we are bored by the retelling of stories we have heard throughout the course of our lives; however, this is a life account, a life-altering series of events that refuses to lose its place, its power, or its authority.
The Lenten season is a time in which the faith community recognizes its unity with Christ, anticipating and celebrating resurrection, salvation, and new life. In this season, the faith community whole-heartedly devotes itself to prayer, reflection, repentance, fasting, and sharing in an effort to deepen community with both God and others.
During this time of dedicated sacrifice, encourage your congregation that as they give up something, they might also include something. In other words, as your congregants fast from self-indulgence in some respect, encourage them, at the same time, to take up something that is directed toward the benefit of others. Also, as you prepare to speak every week, consider covering a different theme or dimension of the Christian life (i.e., faithfulness, self-control) or even various narratives within the life of Christ, as to create a sense of continuance in teaching throughout the season. There is a wealth of spiritual development and spiritual renewal that does and can take place during this season, so do not let liturgy or tradition scare you away from fully participating in any part of the Lenten season.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the week leading up to Resurrection Sunday, with the account of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The celebration of the Messiah and prophecy being fulfilled (Zech 9:9), however, is quickly stifled by Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and brutal death, which leave many of Jesus’ followers with doubt and questions unanswered.
Rather than fast-forwarding to the celebration that comes with resurrection, consider the whole Passion, both death and resurrection together. There is great meaning in death before life, depravity before honor, and brokenness before wholeness. Recognize that forgiveness, atonement, and newness of life are all wrapped around both. But most importantly, do not forget the main thing. Don’t let the central message of the Easter season get lost in the craziness of service schedule, sermon prep, or technical mishaps. Jesus Christ, our Savior, is the one who died and was resurrected on our behalf; he is the one who lives today. And the same power that brought resurrection in Jesus Christ brings resurrection in us, raising us from our own graves and bringing us true life found only in Christ.
As you begin your preparations for this Easter season, allow your heart and mind to be renewed by reflecting on the miraculous-ness of these events. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ initiated the ultimate rescue mission and how gloriously it is yet to fully come!