Every once in a while, a sermon gets me in trouble. I have typically preached in ‘free pulpits.’ These pulpits are surrounded by congregants who know two things: 1) the minister is free to preach what they sense the Holy Spirit is leading them to preach, and 2) the congregant is free to believe it or not! It is the Baptist way. Our soul freedom—at its best—allows us to wander and ponder the mysteries of God without judgement and repercussion. You may leave a worship service and via narthex discussion, telephone call or email inform me of your deep disagreement with the content of my thought…and that’s okay. We are okay. We know that God is too mysterious for us to confine to any individual interpretation. Our differing perspectives help us appreciate and navigate the many facets of God and faith, but…every once in a while, a sermon gets me in trouble.
It happened over a decade ago. It was Easter Sunday morning. The sanctuary was packed with people awaiting the grand and glorious liturgy of our most holy day. They hymns were sung, the Great Thanksgiving was spoken, the brass had played, and then…the first words of my sermon rang out, “Easter—the resurrection—is nothing more than a rumor.” There were a few who could not hang with me for the rest of the sermon. Their bottoms stayed in the pew, but their minds were busy constructing their narthex argument, phone call and email. The point of my sermon was after the resurrection, the risen life of Jesus existed in the witness—the spoken testimony—of those who saw the resurrection. It passed from the women, to the disciples, to gatherings of believers and today throughout the world. It is a rumor…a powerful rumor…a rumor we can trust and believe.
Okay, here is one more Easter rumor. I think you will like this one. I have heard—and again, it’s only a rumor—First Baptist Greenville will hold two worship services this Easter, April 4. Our regular 10:30am service will be broadcast via radio and internet as is COVID-19 usual. We will also gather—in person, masked and distanced—at 8:00am at Fluor Field Stadium for worship and an outfield Easter Egg Hunt for the children. Yes, we will get to see each other on Easter morning. Again, it’s only a rumor, but like the first Easter rumor, it’s one you can trust and believe. I’m looking forward to it. See you there!