Easter 2021: What Are Christians Across America Preaching?

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New sermons will be added throughout the week, so check back soon for even more content!

Easter Sunday, preceded by Holy Week, can be one of the most intensely spiritual and reflective times in the Christian calendar.

As we wrap up the 2021 Easter celebrations of many American Christians—Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter on May 2nd, 2021—we decided to gather some of the messages that have been shared across the United States, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Check them out below! 


Joan Chittister, OSB, “The Risen Christ, Promise of New Light” 

 Joan Chittister, OSB, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA, is an international speaker and the author of over 50 books. She speaks and writes on issues of peace, justice and equality, especially for women in both church and society. You can find her at joanchittister.org

“The true division of humanity,” Victor Hugo wrote in Les Miserables, “is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness.” Victor Hugo, it seemed, understood Easter.

We love to think of Easter as the feast of dazzling light. We get up on Easter Sunday morning knowing that the sorrow of Good Friday is finally ended, that the pain of the cross has been compensated for by a burst of brilliant victory from the gates of the grave, that Jesus is vindicated, that the faith of the disciples is confirmed for all to see, and that everyone lived happily ever after. We love fairy tales.  Unfortunately Easter is not one of them.

On the contrary, Easter is raw reality.  Easter stands in stark witness, not to the meaning of death, but to the meaning of what it is to go on despite death, in the face of death–because of death. To celebrate Easter means to stand in the light of the empty tomb and decide what to do next. Until we come to realize that, we stand to misread the meaning not simply of the Easter gospel but of our own lives. We miss the point. We make Easter an historical event rather than a life-changing commitment. We fail to realize that Easter demands as much of us now as it did of the apostles then."

Read the rest of her sermon here.


 

William J. Barber II, “No Lie Can Hold This Body Down

Bishop William J. Barber II is the pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement, and co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. He is also president of Repairers of the Breach, and the author of several books including, most recently, "We Are Called to be a Movement."

 

"Bishop Tutu once said: In the middle of our faith is the death and resurrection. Nothing could have been more hopeless than Good Friday—but then Easter happened, and forever we have become prisoners of hope.” As we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, I’m struck by the way this event which has become an expected holiday was received at its inception as an interruption."

 

Read the rest of his sermon here



Adam Bucko, Maundy Thursday Sermon 2021 

The Rev. Adam Bucko is the director of the Center for Spiritual Imagination at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in New York. He is a central voice in efforts to renew contemplative spirituality and the growing New Monastic movement. Through his non-profit, the Reciprocity Foundation, he spent the first 15 years of his ministry working with home youth in New York City. 

"Growing up in Poland, I was shaped by many stories about World War II that I heard over and over again as a kid. These stories were very alive for my grandparents who lived through the war, and also for my parents, who were born just a few years after the War had ended, and who grew up among the ruins of the war. 

The stories they told me created this sort of an imaginary landscape of meaning in which I lived as a child. There was a story of my grandfather’s capture by Nazi soldiers who sent him to a work camp in Germany. There was also the story from my grandmother, who amidst all the atrocities of war, also talked about the occasional acts of kindness shown to her by the occupying army. And then there were these two big archetypal stories. Stories of special significance. Cruciform stories, if you will. Stories told on special occasions. Stories that signaled to us children that these were something to model our lives on.

The first story was that of a Franciscan friar, Fr. Maximillian Kolbe. Captured and taken to a concentration camp for his activities with the resistance, he reminded us that “It is often in the darkest places… that light can shine at its brightest.”

Read the rest of his sermon here

Andy Stanley, North Point Ministries, “The Easter Question” 

Pastor Andy Stanley founded North Point Ministries in 1995. Today, North Point Ministries consists of seven churches in the Atlanta area and a network of nearly 100 churches around the globe. He is the author of more than 20 books, and shares his message widely through his YouTube videos, podcasts, and lectures.

You can learn more about his work here, and about North Point Ministries here, and listen to his Easter 2021 sermon below.


 Elizabeth Maxwell, Easter Sermon 2021

The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell is Rector of the Church of the Ascension in New York City. 

“The women went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

Is that it? 

Mark’s gospel ends here. There is no encounter with the risen Jesus, no joyful witness from the women sent to tell, no transformation, catharsis or clarity. Just fear, awe…. and silence.

Christians have been struggling with discomfort about this from early times. There are two alternate endings to Mark, both of which scholars agree were written later than the original gospel. It seems there has always been a need to fill the space left by the evangelist.

Commentators debate why the gospel ends this way."

Read the rest of her sermon here


Grey Maggiano, Easter Day Homily 2021 

The Rev. Grey Maggiano is the Rector of Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore. Prior to his service in Baltimore, he was the Associate Rector of the Trinity Cathedral Miami, where he also served on the board of the Friends of the Biscayne Bay. Grey lives in Center-West Baltimore with his wife Monica, two children and a new puppy. 

"So, if you were expecting to anoint the body of your dead friend and instead you found an empty tomb and a strange man sitting inside saying “Don’t worry, your friend is not here, but he will meet you back at home,”  you might be scared too. 

I mean -- they saw him die!  They were the only ones who actually saw him because they didn’t run and hide. And now,  they were ready to perform all the ceremonial rituals they couldn’t do at the burial and…. he’s just gone! 

What I am trying to say is that it is hard for us 21st century American Christians to understand the Easter narrative as being connected to fear.   We live in a world of stark polarities- good and bad,rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, Ravens and Steelers. Easter is supposed to be about hope, not fear. 

Well, what is Easter really about for you?"

Read the rest of his sermon here. Watch his sermon here



Wesley Hill, Psalm Sunday 2021, “A New King” 

The Rev. Dr. Wesley Hill serves at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Pittsburgh, PA and is an associate professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa. 

I would speak to you in the Name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

When I say the word king, what comes to your mind? Maybe you picture one of the old English monarchs living in a castle and going to war with his enemies. It could be that you picture a modern dictator, draped in military medals, who quashes dissent and imprisons his political enemies. Or maybe you think of a head-of-state like the U.S. president, arriving by heavily armored motorcade for his inauguration the Capitol. Whatever the case, and whatever political views you have, you probably think of things like pomp and prestige and — most of all — power when you think about a king.

Read the rest of his sermon here, or watch it here 


4/6/2021 2:25:46 PM