One of the blessings of now being a UU minister, having moved on from Anglicanism, is I don’t have to begin an Easter talk by explaining that the events of Passover and Easter are not history. They are stories, albeit powerful ones. They are not literally true. The blood of the lamb did not protect the Hebrew people from the plague killing Egypt’s first born. The bodily resurrection of Jesus did not take place. That means I can skip right to why the stories have been told for millennia. I can jump in with both feet as to why Unitarians should still tell them, even those of us who are dyed-in-the-wool humanists who have exchanged divinity for reason. Are we open to the possibility that these stories can draw us in and transform us anyway? Are these stories just old, dusty accounts from the past or might they still have some contemporary relevance if we can just shed, even if only for today, our disbelief?
I may have told this story on Easter before, but the Easter story has been recounted a couple of thousand times. So, I have precedents.
daughter had little choice when she was young about being active in
church. She went to a church kindy. She went to an Episcopal School
for girls her first two years in primary while I finished seminary.
She went to Sunday School. She sang in the choir and earned awards
as her skills improved. She was an acolyte when girls were first
allowed to serve at the altar. She was active in the church youth
group. As she was showered with love, affection and attention by the
congregations I served, she didn’t seem to mind her life as a PK (a
In one of my last Easter Day sermons at St Matthew’s I opened with how difficult I found preaching on the Day of Resurrection in a Christian context:
Look out! Here comes the preacher walking the Easter sermon tightrope!
Can he balance the life-giving message of joy and hope that the ancient story of resurrection suggests, with the progressive theology and openness St Matthew’s embodies?
Can he make it across safely to the other side without falling into either the dreaded, dogmatic pit of spirit killing, rigid orthodoxy, or the confusing fog of bland generalities that can mean just about anything?
When I was in seminary, every seminarian was assigned a parish to do field work in for two years. My second Easter, I was given the opportunity to preach on Easter Sunday. A few months later a couple in the congregation came to see me. They brought me a novel the wife had written. In a former life they had been Idaho sheep farmers. The book is about the lonely life of a shepherd who cares for his flock. Continue reading Ignore Easter? So tempting.→