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A Letter from the Senior Associate Minister to Presbytery

The Awesome Task of Easter Preaching
March 21, 2013

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning,
the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:1-3 (NIV)

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Easter Sunday is a day of joy and celebration.  It is the day believers the world over celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ.  Churches fill with regular worshippers, as well as not so frequent worshippers, to hear the Good News of Jesus overcoming the powers of death and triumphing over the grave.  The resurrection of Jesus is a miracle.  The event changed history.  It validated Jesus’ life, teachings, suffering and call to faith.  We live in and into this call to discipleship, a new way of life grounded in hope, love, and miracles.

As exciting a full sanctuary on Easter can be to a pastor, I have always been humbled by the task of preaching this sacred, miraculous, faith-grabbing story.  I have always approached this awesome responsibility by going to God in prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to guide my words and open my heart to what God would have spoken in these precious moments.  I realized early on in my pastoral ministry, that I could not preach on Easter without letting people know how Jesus’ resurrection has claimed and transformed my life.  For me, preaching on Easter is not a clinical or academic endeavor.  It is not something we preachers can do “one step removed” as if we are preaching for those who show up.  Easter preaching demands that the giver of the sermon reveal his or her faith about Jesus in the context of the proclamation, otherwise the Good News lacks an important element.  Do we truly believe WE have been raised with Christ?  The Easter story has power because it grabs ahold of people, through the working of the Holy Spirit, to transform and make new our lives.  This story changes my life and yours.

Easter is one week away.  If you are a pastor who will be preaching on Easter, let me inquire of you:

My prayer is that this Easter, all of us in Pittsburgh Presbytery would boldly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord!  I pray, that together, we would let the world know that there is no power that can separate us from the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz, Senior Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

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