Easter Sunday. April 16. 2017.
This date and moment has been circled on the calendar of my soul since Christmas.
This is my 31st Easter message. I have been waiting for what is called a "jolt of the familiar." It's that moment when a window opens and a fresh word comes for me about that familiar story. This story can only be shared with passion and authenticity if the message-giver has found a word from God for him or her. Otherwise, you are only sharing some information about a 2,000 year old story that most people who come to church on Easter partly know and partly believe. But I know from failed message that information by itself has no transformative power. By itself it is powerless to change lives. The only way to get past "information messaging" is for me, the one who will deliver his 31st Easter message, to have a fresh encounter with the story. When it happens it is like seeing it for the first time. It grips you. It fills you. It bursts alive inside your heart and imagination. You wish right now is 10am, Easter morning. You can hardly wait to face the gathered community and give them what has now become a word for them.
I have been waiting--not the same as doing nothing--for that fresh encounter and discovery. I have been reading. Thinking. Praying. Jotting down a word or a phrase. Sometimes struggling to be still. Waiting.
This morning, at 8:10am, the encounter and discovery happened. Filled with growing excitement, I sketched the flow. I jotted down the outcome. Afterwards, I danced around in excitement convinced this was from God, not from caffeine. I took my puppy for a walk.
There is much to do this week to make sure the idea for this Easter is clear. There is much to do to make sure the opportunity for transformation is compelling. I have lots of internal work to do so that at 10am on Resurrection day I am in sync with the Holy Spirit and am a worthy vessel for this unique message of resurrection.
But this is undeniably true: in one familiar resurrection scripture, John 11:25-26, the eyes of my heart were opened and I saw as if for the first time a truth that rocked me and has the power to rock all who gather for Easter.
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never dies. Do you believe this?'"