All Good Friday, I thought about you, preachers. We know what the women who followed Jesus were doing on Friday. “Some women were watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (the younger one) and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women had followed and supported him, along with many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him.” (Mark 15:40-41, CEB) But there’s a gap in the testimony for Saturday, the Sabbath.

As we work toward Sunday, we are living in that gap. We inhabit the in-between, preparing to proclaim the resurrection when the moment has not yet arrived, wondering at the way the world is full of jelly beans and bunny rabbits, and even working around the Altar Guild or the Flower Committee as they arrange the flowers for Easter morning.

If you’re looking for some thoughts on the gospel, I commend to you our RCL post by Rachael Keefe, which includes both Mark and John, and our Narrative Lectionary post by Marci Glass, focused on John.

RevGal Dee with one of her Theological Offspring

At my house, other Holy Week services are complete, so the work will happen with breaks for baseball, laundry, and a little grocery-shopping. Maybe you are overseeing an Easter Egg hunt. Some of you will have an Easter Vigil service, then turn around for more on Sunday.Let us know what’s up for you in the comments. Whatever the day holds, come and gather around our table, and bring something to share, whether virtual goodies, challenges of the day, gospel insights, or the best children’s message ever. (Check out our Easter children’s sermons page for some ideas.)

I promise, we will get there, along with many other preachers.

Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, author, clergy coach, and the Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals. Procrastinating? Look up her new book with RevGal Rachel Hackenberg, Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith).

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

66 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Along with many other preachers

  1. here [East Coast of Australia] it is already Saturday afternoon, been shopping for lamb to slow roast and the makings for some salads for lunch tomorrow with good friends.
    for now, 2 sermons to write, one for an ecumenical sunrise service on the Mark reading, the other for the 2 Sunday services i usually lead, where we are following John’s Gospel. Fortunately, tonight is the end of daylight Savings, so an extra hour … hopefully asleep.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. thanks Martha, i think it will be short, but with communion i don’t think anyone will mind, except for one person who thinks my sermons are too short most weeks 🙂


  2. It’s noon on Saturday here in Scotland…I need a brief (like 5 minutes or less brief) homily for sunrise, and a normal sermon for the family service, and we have communion over breakfast in between. I also need to go find my way to where this sunrise service happens and make note of how long it takes to get up there, so I know what time I have to get up in the morning! And I need to take the questions we wrote on crosses last week and use them to flower the cross.
    There was a tragedy in my community this week and I’ve spent several days trying to work out whether/how to address it on Easter Sunday. I’ve decided to keep all the music the same, but it will make an appearance in preaching and praying…especially since I have those questions that people wrote last week. The idea was that we closed them up like a tomb, but tomorrow they will be open, a reminder that resurrection is for us too, even in our doubts and sorrows, something beautiful can grow, god is doing a new and unexpected thing, etc.
    I confess to having exactly zero ideas for either sermon at this point, so I should probably do those other tasks now, and pray for inspiration to strike!
    I have guacamole and matzoh (“matzamole”) to share!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Matzamole! It has an Alleluia sound to it.
      More seriously, I like your plan for addressing the loss in your community – I hope the questions help you find the answer about what to say.


  3. Playing with the triptych of miracle, mystery, and mess for Sunday. It’s still early morning here so all I can offer now is lots of coffee!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am here…but barely…I have two sermons to prepare, and I live in a two pastor household, and my spouse has three sermons to prepare…so our dear young one is sleeping over at grandma’s…frankly, I am having trouble this year getting to Easter. My mom passed last year the week following Easter, and that’s weighing on me like a ton of bricks…and today is my birthday, to boot, so this is the first one without the “6am mom wake-up birthday call.”

    So, naturally, I am drawn to the thing where Mary didn’t recognize Jesus, and today my answer is, “Of course, she didn’t. She was grieving.” That might be able to work into the traditional sermon, but not even sure how that would work into a sunrise sermon, and it makes me tired thinking of it!

    I believe in resurrection and hope…but today I’m not feeling it, so it’s hard to find an Easter word to share with a crowd of folks. Thankfully, the good Lord knew to create coffee beans and tiramisu! 🙂

    Thanks for being here today, everyone, because I need this preacher party today more than most!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry about your mom.

      I have a short piece I wrote about Mary Magdalene for a sunrise service that makes the transition from the time when it is still dark to the moment when the sun comes up and she recognizes Jesus. Would you like to see it? I’m glad to share if it might be helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is so kind of you and I would greatly appreciate that. I am trying hard to get the creative juices flowing!


  5. Struggling this morning to get out of bed. (Something that has been happening a lot this year) I’m thinking about the two sermons for tomorrow. John for Sunrise and Mark for regular worship.
    I’m thinking of incorporating the lyrics from “Come Alive” from The Greatest Showman. It seems to me to speak to resurrection. We shall see how that goes.
    I have a two hour Aikido (martial arts) class in an hour, then maybe I will be awake and clear headed enough to write. Here’s hoping!


  6. It’s Holy Saturday morning here in South Dakota. The sun is shining after an early morning bout of light snow and high winds. Winter is in no hurry to give way to spring.

    Two services done, and seven more to go. I have Easter duty at the nursing homes. With four services tomorrow, I asked that the nursing home services be moved to today. I will do a very short Easter Vigil to Easter morning worship for both of those services. Tonight, I get to just worship as the youth leader and the youth lead the Easter Vigil service. The Easter Morning marathon starts at 6:30.

    All is ready, but I am already exhausted. And in pain – I ache everywhere. I assume it’s from stress – I’m also juggling caring for my spouse after his knee replacement last week, and Monday’s deadline for my thesis summary. The oral defense is Apr 11, so there’s a presentation to prepare as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Heartbroken about Gaza, especially Gaza but also the West Bank anguish, racist shootings of innocents in the US, school shootings, and praying for the hope to rightly proclaim the resurrection in the midst of death and violence. The early disciples proclaimed in the midst of a violent society that still contained the Roman empire and the collusion and corruption of the religious leaders. so we too proclaim the resurrection life in the midst of a violent world. Kyrie eleison. Blessings on all your efforts, Rev. Gals!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Sooo grateful that no one wanted a huge Easter morning — just a light brunch and one service — and that I have an old Mary Magdalene sermon that just needed a bit of tweaking. I am really dragging from the flu and a UTI, and I need to pack up for the departure to FL after church tomorrow. Keeping my focus on sunrises on the beach!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Just finished sermon on the Harrowing of Hell, and the holy foolishness of Jesus. In listing some ways that human “reason” has failed us, I referred to a piece I read about the long-time janitor of a Jewish temple in the U.S. being deported by ICE… and now, I’m trying to find it to cite the source, and can’t find info on it ANYwhere. Anyone else heard/seen this news item this week?

    I am so weary from the emotional labor of holding space for both scripture and our nation’s news this week. I recognize the exhaustion must be magnified a hundredfold for POC pastors. Holding all my clergy colleagues in prayer…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Children’s sermon is done first for a change! Talking about the symbol of the butterfly for new life… and then handing out scratch & sniff butterfly stickers to the kids. Turns out butterflies smell like vanilla, apparently.

    Working on the “adult” sermon next, focusing on Mark and the women being terrified. But when we’re terrified is exactly the time when Jesus shows up. So, I have a theme, just need to figure out how to make it in to a sermon. I’m sure I’ll be checking in throughout the afternoon and evening!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’m having one of those years that I want to linger in Good Friday/Holy Saturday grief for a while, and I am not ready for Resurrection morning. I don’t want to write this sermon. I don’t want to write it and I don’t want to go there because I am not ready for it. I am not ready for flowers and pastels and alleluias and praise. I’m not ready for joy and hope and life. I want to sit in my grief and anger and pain and all of it for a bit longer, drape myself in that black fabric, stare at the candles for hours more.
    And maybe I need to say that….
    (Because, um, Jesus doesn’t really care whether I’m ready or not, whether the women believe it or not (I’m on Mark 16 over here). He’s already up and at work again.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve always has a hard time writing Easter sermons until after Good Friday worship is done. Jesus can’t be resurrected before he’s crucified. And sometimes, the crucifixion deserves some additional contemplation! As you say, it’s probably worth mentioning in your sermon – since that’s probably how the women felt, even after they saw the empty tomb! Praying that inspiration and a spirit of new life comes to you soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I have finished a sermon for the 11:00 service, and discovered in my own Dropbox files previous prayers I can use for both breakfast communion and the 11:00….It’s looking a bit like I might be going-with-the-Spirit (or some might say “winging it”) at the sunrise service. Because it’s nearly 11pm and I have to go to bed at some point in the very near future, and I don’t even have an idea for that early message, let along a plan….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Did you say the sunrise sermon could be short? Maybe just teach them the traditional Easter greeting and wax poetic about how universal it is, across all 3 major branches of Christianity, many languages, cultures, etc. Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed!)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, it can be short….
        I’m pondering taking the book “Fire and Bread” (worship resources from the Iona Community) up with me and sort of riffing on a couple things I see in there.
        By which I mean, I’m putting the book into my bag now, and going upstairs to bed. Haha! If a better idea appears in the night, great. Otherwise…

        Liked by 5 people

  13. I’ve long been mulling over an April Fool/Mark connection, but still trying to make it come together. There are several instances of expectations being reversed – not just the overall resurrection, but the smaller expectations (the stone was already rolled away, etc.). I was also struck by imagery from Rev. Grace Imathiu who pointed out that the women thought that they were going to be funeral directors/that they were going to a funeral – they don’t know that they’re going to a maternity ward.

    And then of course Mark’s gospel (at least originally) just ends with the women leaving terrified and not saying anything to anybody. My husband (also a pastor) talks about the opportunity / responsibility that gives us as the hearers to “be the sequel” as he puts it and carry the gospel message ourselves.

    All these ideas are churning, but I can’t manage to get anything focused. And I just realized that I completely forgot to put Communion in the bulletin for the service (luckily the altar guild has it all set up already). When I texted my organist to give her a heads up, she said to just tell everyone that was part of the April Fool joke.

    Shouldn’t Easter be the easiest sermon of the year?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently I did not. Which might mean I borrowed bits of it from someplace else at some point, but didn’t note where they came from….so if anyone sees this and thinks “hey, that’s mine!” Please let me know!! I can see that I used it at least the last two years.
      If you need to add the Lord Be With You / Sanctus / Agnus Dei, I trust you can work out where to put them. This was when I was in a church that used none of that.

      This table is not mine, and it does not belong to this church.
      This is not a Presbyterian table.
      All of us, no matter who we are, or what we have done, or where we are on life’s journey, are as
      welcome here as Peter and Joanna and Mary and James and even Judas were at the first table.
      The risen Christ is the host, and he bids us come and celebrate the feast,
      to know the power of resurrection, the joy of heaven, the glory of God’s grace.
      Let us pray.
      Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe,
      for you have raised Jesus Christ from the dead
      and through him brought all creation to new life with you.
      We remember your story, from
      In the beginning when you called out: let there be light!
      And in your Son you sent light to shine in the darkness.
      And through the power of your Spirit, you make us light for the world.
      In the beginning you drew your creation out of the depths,
      calling us through the water of flood and sea and river and font,
      quelling chaos with the order of your will.
      In the beginning you gave us your word,
      throughout history you have called through your prophets,
      and in a new beginning you rolled back the stone and set the whole world free with Christ.
      Roll back the stone again this day, O God,
      open the tombs of fear, of despair, of hopelessness, of grief.
      Open the tombs of hurt and emptiness, of betrayal and death.
      Let your morning light stream in to places of pain and darkness,
      let your breath of life rush in to places of brokenness and disease.
      Call us out of darkness and into your marvelous light—
      a new day of healing and hope, a new day of life and grace, a new day of peace and justice.
      Convict us with the knowledge that your resurrection power still abounds through the earth—
      and often we are guilty of ignoring it, or shutting it away in a box or a book or a sanctuary.
      When we believe your resurrection has nothing to do with
      broken bodies
      unjust systems
      the daily grind
      the politics of life together
      the daily death dealt to our children
      the rules of the world and the way things are…
      Lord rush into our lives again, roll away the stone,
      and send us out again to live your good news—
      death has lost its sting, the kingdoms of this world are passing away,
      fear will never have the last word,
      love wins.
      When we don’t feel love, help us do it anyway.
      When we don’t want to love, help us do it anyway.
      When we aren’t even sure what love means, help us do it anyway.
      At this feast we remember so many other feasts—
      Jesus on the hillside with more people than we can count
      Jesus at the dining room table at a tax collector’s house
      Jesus sitting in the home of a leper
      Jesus on the beach, cooking breakfast for shocked disciples
      Jesus with his friends the night before his arrest
      Jesus breaking bread at the end of a day’s journey, and their eyes being opened.
      We also remember so many who cannot feast,
      who do not even know the meaning of the word.
      We remember so many who cannot drink,
      for the rivers run dry and the wells are polluted.
      We remember so many who have been turned away from the table
      believing themselves unworthy or unloved.
      We celebrate this day that the power of resurrection is free in the world,
      and we pray that as we feast on the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
      we may be filled with that power
      and sent out—commissioned, ordained—with an urgent need to share the good news.
      Shake us out of our complacency and give us courage to live what we say we believe.
      Fill us with your Spirit as surely as you fill this bread and wine,
      and lift us up to your heavenly banquet, filled with the whole cloud of witnesses,
      where we may catch a glimpse of your glory—
      then put us firmly back in your world to let that glory shine in every place.
      We pray in the name and power of the risen Christ, who gives us courage to pray his words
      without ceasing: Our Father…

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I’ve been mulling over Jesus’ message that he’s going to Galilee & the disciples should meet him there. Had momentary panic instance – the calendar date tomorrow is a trauma anniversary, Easter was the 1st service I attended after that trauma – there’s some other stuff messing with my head. It’s an early morning for me with a church breakfast followed by the service. Looking forward to Jesus Christ Superstar live tomorrow night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This ended up forming the core of my sermon: that they were to go home, back to everyday life, and that’s where resurrection would be. Which is, in some ways, the most terrifying thing the messenger could have said. Because if they are now to find Jesus in the everyday, find resurrection back home, find God everywhere….that’s a much taller order than “go to church.”

      Liked by 3 people

  15. I’m borrowing an idea (April’s, maybe?) to have Easter eggs contain keywords for the sermon – but it’s Mark, and it’s April Fool’s, so those keywords are a twist on what you might expect in an Easter sermon – anxiety, fear, questions … then beginning, and finally, “what do you get when death is dead?” That will lead into the St. John Chrysostom Easter Vigil homily, and we will stomp out death together.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. So I’ve been thinking about the terror and amazement that is the first response to resurrection in Mark’s gospel. Often I think we assume that the women are terrified and flee because they don’t really understand what has happened. But what if they run away in fear precisely because they do understand what the angel tells them. What if that’s a perfectly appropriate reaction to Jesus’ resurrection? After, all, there is something almost holy about honoring a fallen hero or a crucified Messiah. You can mourn and remember him or her – the things he did, what she taught,what you learned from them. And the good thing about memory is that it is very adaptable so you can fit it into your life however best suits you. But a Messiah who is very much alive and present to us – who cannot be stopped even by death – maybe that’s a little scarier because it demands more from us.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks – this helped me develop the “apply to your lives” part of my sermon on how Jesus shows up when we’re terrified. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. This fits into the idea of it being up to us to “finish” Mark that I’ve been thinking about…and thinking about how my church is so terrified about what they are really called to do that they try and flee from it in their own way.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I am doing Mark…playing with both Diane Roth’s idea of the Gospel of Failure and Rachael Keefe’s idea that Mark has left the story in our hands…I am pastoring to a dying dysfunctional church that doesn’t want to admit it and I see using Mark as a way to draw a line in the sand…but then I start to second guess myself and wonder if I’m using Easter the wrong way. We’ve had several hard deaths in the past month and a half not to mention awkward leadership divisions and im trying to discern if they need the comfort or the challenge. I also wanted to be cutesy and talk about April Fools Day but that might just be the Childrens sermon. Monday I get to go back “Home” to my seminary for the week and how I wish it was Sunday night already and not Saturday 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like we may be in a similar situation with our churches. I’m starting a new series next week about “Rethinking Resurrection” and a core part of it will have to do with the fact that for something to be resurrected it has to die first – this isn’t like vampires living forever in eternal stasis. That said, for Easter itself I’m sticking with the more standard “joy in the resurrection” before I hit them with the hard stuff next week.

      Liked by 3 people

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