Sunday, April 10, 2011

Have any easter illustrations you'd like to share?

We are now two weeks away from Easter, a sermon, a big sermon that we preach every year, often from the same few texts.  This can press the best preacher's creativity.  Got a good illustration from a past easter sermon, or maybe a good intro, or even a simple outline?  Post it in the comments and lend your preaching friends a hand.

Here's mine, an introduction from an Easter sermon preached from John 1:1-4:

There are some stories that we simply can’t help but repeat. This is especially true when it comes to families. Hang around my family long enough and you’ll hear about the time I got a suction cup stuck to my head which left a giant purple mark on my forehead for over six weeks. Or you’ll hear of the time my dad was putting up a basketball goal for my brother and me, only he didn't read the directions and cemented that ten foot pole into the ground without first removing the brackets stored inside that were supposed to hold up the backboard.  What a sight he was perched up on a ten foot ladder attempting to fish out those brackets from the bottom of that pole!  That's one of our stories.  I'm sure you have your own. Of course, not every story is funny. Some are sad like the day Grandaddy breathed his last – but those stories have their place as well. The stories that show up again and again though are those that mark major milestones in our lives. These often take the form of birth stories – that is stories of our beginnings. Just this past week, Alyson and I were having supper with some close family friends who are expecting their first child in about a month. As we shared in their excitement we couldn’t help but begin to recall the stories of our own children’s births. “Remember when?” we’d ask each other. As if we could forget. Then again, maybe you can forget, that’s why we keep telling the stories to each other. The stories of our beginnings, the stories of when life appeared and life changed forever.

John is telling us one of those stories in our text today, one of those beginnings that bears repeating and that “grows dearer every day”[i]. His is the ultimate story of the day life appeared and life changed forever. We’re not sure who he’s writing this short little letter to other than that it is a collection of believers that he’s familiar with. We’re not even sure it’s a letter – it could be a sermon. I like that idea for obvious reasons. Either way, he starts in with a theme he’s probably preached on a thousand times before and they’ve heard just as many times. He starts in with the essence of Christian proclamation – that in the person of Jesus Christ, God himself showed up on the scene and forever altered life as we know it. In fact, John, echoing language from both his gospel and from the book of Genesis writes that in Christ Jesus, life itself appeared and made eternal life possible for those who believe.

[The rest of the sermon was a basic retelling of the Easter story and of its importance for our faith - I may outline it later in the week]
[i] One of my favorite Rich Mullin’s songs is entitled “Hello, Old Friends.” Mullins begins, “Hello, old friends. There’s really nothing new to say. But the old, old story bears repeating. And the plain old truth grows dearer everyday. When you find something worth believing, Well, that’s a joy that nothing can take away.”


  1. Here goes...

    At our last house we had a pretty good size back yard with no trees. Our huge German Shepherd would from time to time look at us as though to say, "When are you going to get me some shade back here?" Eventually we went and bought a few trees and we planted them on a Saturday. We bought a Sweet Gum tree and a Cottonless Cottonwood. The Sweet Gum tree was an $80 tree and the Cottonwood tree was $20. Wouldn't you know that we had the problems with the expensive tree.

    The reason we bought the Sweet Gum was because it was a larger tree and had some branches on it that looked like they were going to stretch out. We envisioned that tree providing shade quickly. We could just picture the dog sitting under that tree all the time.

    I was excited and watered the trees regularly at first, but became discouraged when they did not provide shade quickly (haha). Those branches did not seem to be stretching out. The dog looked at us like we had to be kidding him. I grew disinterested and stopped watering the trees as often.

    One day I noticed the Sweet Gum was looking sick. I started watering that tree all the time. The tree just looked sick still. I fertilized the tree and watered it some more. Now the tree looked dead. I kept watering the tree with the hope that the water would find the smallest bit of life in the tree and revive it. Even after we knew the tree was dead I still watered it a few times with the hope that it would come back.

    Sometimes we spend so much effort in life pouring water on dead trees. We seek to fix ourselves, our sin, our problems, our families, etc. We find that we are powerless and our efforts are futile. The only real power that we can turn to is in Christ and his resurrection power. He is the only one that has power to bring dead things back to life.

    Text: Philippians 3:7-14
    (Key verse 3:10)

    Craig Curry

  2. Thanks Craig! I love the line, "Sometimes we spend so much effort in life pouring water on dead trees" - what an evocative image!