|"Everything is a Quotation" a painting|
by my brother Erick Sandlin
Part of our problem is that we have preached this so many times, we think we need new words to make the story of the resurrection sound fresh (as if it were our words that supplied new life to this story instead of it being the resurrection that brings new life to our words!). We've handled this story so often that we, the preacher, have become deadened to its sacred power. The fault is ours alone. Philip Brooks once wrote, "Familiarity does not breed contempt except of contemptible things or in contemptible people." The resurrection is clearly not a contemptible thing so . . . Ouch.
Willimon channels Brooks when he writes, "Don't you find it curious that High Holy Days get 'old' mostly for us preachers? Most of our people come to church on Christmas or Easter hoping to sing the same old hymns, to hear a familiar story. No lay person ever asked, 'Easter? Again?' Most laity come to church on these high days hoping it will all be 'again.' . . . Perhaps our laity, failing to receive the benefits of a first-rate theological education, are less well defended against Jesus than we clergy, therefore to them, the good news of Jesus Christ stays news."
I think Willimon is on to something. Nobody but the preacher is upset that this year's sermon sounds somewhat like last year's. The power, after all, isn't in the preacher or the preacher's words so much as it's in the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and now moves within the gospel's proclamation and among those who hear it. So don't worry so much about how to preach this story anew. Just trust that when we proclaim he is risen once more, it's news that's as new as ever.
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all - Acts 4:33.