April 13, 2022
It’s my first Easter Sunday at First Baptist Church Carrollton. It’s my first Easter Sunday as a senior pastor. I’m excited to embrace the empty tomb with you all, but I’m also a little nervous too. I reached out to a few friends who have years of experience as senior pastor to ask for their wisdom. One colleague texted me some sage advice saying, “Live it before you ever try to preach it. Live in the text all week long.” I followed that advice by beginning each and every day with a deep time of meditation in the passion and resurrection accounts in The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In my reading, I’ve imagined myself with Jesus during Holy Week. I see my face amongst the disciples in the upper room. I hear my voice lift words of protest upon seeing Jesus stoop to wash my feet. I fear seeing my Lord being arrested and led away. I despair watching him from afar as he dies an agonizing death and then receives an unceremonious burial. I long to embrace the empty tomb. The resulting emotions of living these moments in my heart and mind are not easy, but as I “live it” I feel my anxiety about Easter service slip away. It’s no longer about the perfect sermon or an attendance goal. It’s simply about finding myself in the story of Jesus’s passion and resurrection. As I do, the sermon has begun to preach itself. Not only in the notes I’m preparing for the pulpit on Sunday, but moreover in the life I live as a husband, father, and member of this beautiful community we call home. It’s made a difference in how I see the world and interact in it. Isn’t that really the point? The same is true for you, for you have an Easter sermon to preach too. Only your pulpit might be in the form of your office, home, ballfield or neighborhood. There will be people in attendance who will listen. No don’t get nervous. Just get ready! To do this, allow me to pass along the same advice I received: “Live it before you preach it. Live in the text all week long.” Friends, find yourself in the greatest story ever told. Allow your heart to feel the deep emotions within. When you do, your sermon will come together. You’ll be ready to preach something bold and beautiful the world needs to hear. You’ll be ready to embrace the empty tomb on Sunday and the rest of your lives.