Photo by Monica Smith, La Grange, TX, 2020.

It’s the 11th Hour Preacher Party, but it’s hard to measure the 11th hour anymore. Some of us are recording services in advance. Some are still working on Good Friday services. Some are trying to figure out to hold an Easter Vigil.

Regardless, on Sunday morning, while it is still dark, the women will go to the tomb and find it empty. And that emptiness will bring them to fear and great joy.

We are here, for sharing of conundrums and stumbles, triumphs and tribulations, ideas and stuck places. And we are here, praying with you, to minister faithfully in this new season.


Monica Thompson Smith is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, serving as stated supply pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Luling, TX. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.


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12 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Early in the Morning…

  1. We recorded the Easter service on Maundy Thursday afternoon in the sanctuary. Today’s to do is to upload it to Vimeo, which if all goes well will take about four hours. Here’s a bit of the sermon.

    I had an email this week from a professor at my seminary, Dr. Bill Brown. He is the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary, a post once held by Dr. Walter Brueggemann. In his email, he shared some thoughts with the seminary community and alums on preaching about the resurrection in a year when we can’t even worship together in church. He said, “Christ’s Resurrection did not begin (or end) with large gatherings of Christians accompanied by choirs and organ blasts. It began with an empty tomb and three fearful women – a tomb emptied of death. This is the Easter to ponder such emptiness, to linger over it, indeed, to revel in it.”
    [“A Holy Week Message from Dr. Bill Brown,” email from Columbia Theological Seminary, April 7, 2020.]

    I don’t know about you, but I miss the choir and the organ and all the people dressed in their Easter finery. But Dr. Brown is right. In all the gospels, it’s only a few people who come to the empty tomb – and there’s at least one woman in every account. The crowds came later, after the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost, when Peter preached his first sermon and three thousand people were converted. The adoration and the Alleluias – they came later. Handel’s “Messiah” came later. (Sigh. I miss Handel’s “Messiah” and the Hallelujah Chorus.) There were two angels at the tomb in John’s account, but they weren’t singing “Glory to God in the highest,” like they were at Jesus’ birth. Still, they were there. That counts. Angels at his birth, angels at his resurrection.

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  2. I am still futzing around with an order of worship and need to get that clear in my head before I dive into the sermon. For the sermon, I am planning on using the John text and just talking about telling the story. One of the things that gets really overwhelming for me right now is all the talk of ‘what this means for the church’ ‘what this means for the world’ ‘what you should be doing to make the most of this time, etc.’ Mary didn’t go back from the tomb and say ‘you know what this means’ or ‘here is what we need to do with this experience’. She just told people what had happened to her. It was 30 years before Paul started writing his letters and 40 before the first gospel was written down. Let’s not ‘learn the lessons of this time’, let’s be present to this time where the God of life will show up.

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  3. We recorded on Tuesday. Last night I wrestled with downloading the large file from the server where our young videographer (a young adult from the congregation who is trying to start a videography business) posted it and uploading it to YouTube so it could be disseminated. Last week, I sent out bits of the Matthew Gospel to families and they videoed their kids saying the lines and sent them back to me. I put the snippets together into one video myself and sent it to our videographer to insert into the service. I am pleased with it, though I learned a lot about what I would ask next time. The thing that delights me is that my son took part in the project. He has flat refused to ever read scripture or in any other way be involved in front of the congregation, but he was happy to do this where he could be videoed and start over if he messed up. –Wendy

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    1. That all sounds fun! I’m glad you have the technological expertise within the congregation. And glad it allowed for your son to participate.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My plan: a half-hour meditative service to be posted on YouTube at dawn. I got some of the complicated pieces done yesterday. Planned to record the sermon in my backyard as early as possible this (Saturday) morning, but getting myself moving, waiting for husband to run to Costco when it opened, getting it all set up, etc., took so much time it was too bright and too noisy by the time we finally gave up because the combination of recording and me seeing my text just didn’t work out. Besides, the board was supposed to meet by conference call at 11:00, so here I sit at 11:15 and no one has called in. The sermon focuses on the rarely noticed aspects of the John narrative that match up with this Easter, which is like no other for nearly 2000 years–except for the first one. At least it was written before Saturday, which is more than unusual for me in normal times. It will be nice not to be exhausted on Easter afternoon. I really don’t want to sit at my desk to record the sermon, though. Maybe in front of a window.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i was hoping to do worship from outside, too (we’re doing zoom, so it’s live), but my wifi is even more unreliable outside the house than inside. So I’ll be in my usual spot at the kitchen table. Who knew there could be so many complications!


  5. I am preaching “I know you are looking for Jesus…He is not here…he is going ahead of you.” which is hopeful when we find ourselves in places that are different and not what we know.

    Liked by 1 person

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