It’s an honor to get to share the pulpit with three other preachers, particularly preachers after whom I’ve modeled my style and approach to ministry. The only downside of sharing a pulpit means we share the Big Days (although, sharing the responsibility is one of the things I love most about my job – I have no idea how anyone preaches every single week).
So it was a really pleasant surprise to get offered the chance to preach on Maundy Thursday this year. How exciting! And really, I told myself back in early Lent, what a great chance to stretch myself in terms of style. I am an upbeat, throw-in-jokes, keep it light and breezy preacher by default. It’s going to be a great chance to write something serious and a bit dark and sit with that for a while. Yeah! Challenges!
All well and good, until I actually tried to write the sermon for tonight. Oof. I know why my other sermons are vaguely similar in style – it’s because I am an Easter person. Every draft I wrote of the Maundy Thursday sermon (including the final one), Easter kept sneaking in, no matter how focused and somber I tried to keep things. I’m a believer in the empty tomb and a creature of hope, so the struggle has been to sit with the pain of Holy Week. It hurts. It’s profoundly uncomfortable to realize that you can’t accept a guy like Jesus into your life if you don’t accept the ugly part of the story as well. You can’t get to resurrection without death. And my job today is not what it usually is, which is to bring people the reminder to hope. My job today is to face a darkened sanctuary of faces I love and know we grieve together.
… Until Sunday anyway.