A prayer for pastors on Easter
Dear Lord, I pray for all the pastors today
Who will feel enormous pressure to have their sermon
Match the greatness of the subject
and will surely feel they have failed.
(I pray even more for those who think they have succeeded.)
Help them to know that it is enough
Simply and faithfully to tell the story
Of women in dawn hush …
Of men running half-believing …
Of rolled stones and folded grave-clothes …
Of a supposed gardener saying the name of a crying woman …
Of sad walkers encountering a stranger on the road home …
Of an empty tomb and overflowing hearts.
Give them the wisdom to know that sincere humility and awe
Surpass all homiletic flourish
On this day of mysterious hope beyond all words.
Make them less conscious of their responsibility to preach,
And more confident of the Risen Christ
Who presence trumps all efforts to proclaim it.
Considering all the Easter choirs who will sing beautifully, and those who won’t,
And all the Easter prayers that will soar in faith, and those that will stumble and flounder,
And all the Easter attendance numbers and offering numbers that will exceed expectations
And those that will disappoint …
I pray they all will be surpassed by the simple joy
Of women and men standing in the presence of women and men,
Daring to proclaim and echo the good news:
Risen indeed! Alleluia!
For death is not the last word.
Violence is not the last word.
Hate is not the last word.
Money is not the last word.
Intimidation is not the last word.
Political power is not the last word.
Condemnation is not the last word.
Betrayal and failure are not the last word.
No: each of them are left like rags in a tomb,
And from that tomb,
Help the preachers feel it,
And if they don’t feel it, help them
Preach it anyway, allowing themselves
To be the receivers as well as the bearers of the Easter