Dr. Scott Anderson, pastor of Grace Chapel Christian Union Church in Sante Fe, OH, is a very intentional preacher. Here he shares some valuable insight into how Spiritual Directors might help those under their care prepare their hearts and minds for Resurrection Sunday:
Preparing for Easter is most effective if pastors understand the value of preaching through the Life of Jesus beginning the first Sunday after Advent and carrying right through to Easter morning. The early church established this rhythm by observing such season markers as Advent, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. Some of these church year designations are not typically observed in the Christian Union, yet they offer an excellent, time tested approach for preparing for Easter Sunday.
The Child in a manger is destined for the Cross; a truth we easily miss in the sentimentality of Christmas and new Easter clothes. With some planning, pastors can cover targeted areas of Jesus’ life on the dozen or so Sundays after Christmas. This deliberate approach of preaching Jesus’ life prevents Easter from just popping up on the calendar resulting in a scramble to come up with an Easter message. Being deliberate with Easter planning helps prevent people from missing the context of the crucifixion and resurrection. When we see and understand the continuity of the events of Christ’s life, we are fostering a deeper, stronger faith – faith in Jesus who occupied the manger, the cross and the now empty tomb.
The significant theological teachings along the road from Bethlehem’s manger to Jerusalem’s cross are deep and wide. Beginning with the Advent Scripture readings we have the privilege of following Jesus from the announcement of His birth to the manger and through the miracles, parables, sermons, and, finally, the trial, crucifixion and burial. Talking and preaching through the stages and events of Christ’s life prepares hearts for the glory and power of the resurrection.
The weeks of deliberately preparing for Easter become a Faith building season for the saints. A key component of having stronger more resilient faith is to have a deeper understanding of Christ, whom we are trusting. One’s faith is no better than its object. If we do not know the one we trust and believing in, our faith will be stunted. Preaching through the life of Christ offers the Christian an opportunity to grow stronger and bolder which brings glory to God and extends His Kingdom in this world. May God grant you insight as you plan for this Easter season. Amen.