A part of me always itches to inquire, “So what did you think of my Easter sermon?” I mean, I work hard on it. I care deeply about it, the central message of our faith, at the highest holy day. And I always need feedback from those who know what a sermon is.
But making this query from my egocentric preacher universe, it catches you by surprise. That is because, let’s face it, the sermon isn’t the heart of the matter on Easter Sunday. At the high holy days, when we trade in ineffable mystery and incredible miracle, music is much more to the point. As the preacher, I am the only one who can say that. No one else would dare. Now, I am not saying reading and interpreting God’s word is irrelevant. On musical or youth or other Sundays when there is no sermon, people actually miss it.
I’m saying that mystery and miracle resist the logic of verbiage, logic and reasoning. Easter is better suited to heartfelt music that burrows into our being more than cerebral explanations. Someone in the pews said, “Easter strikes me as something not to be argued, reasoned out and demonstrated. Rather it’s something to be experienced, to be marveled at, enjoyed, and wondered at. That’s why Easter music is most to the point.”
As preacher, I say amen to that. I say amen to singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” and “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” I say amen to refreshing our Doxology and hearing our Senior Choir sing Mendelssohn’s, “And They Shall Raise Your Christ Up.” Let us not forget that we shall ramp it up and culminate with Handel’s “Alleluia Chorus.”
Really, hearing the basic resurrection narrative—even before it gets interpreted—might be more essential to our Easter experience than some high-flown Easter exploration or investigation. Or maybe letting the wonderful aroma of the wonderful Easter lilies knock our sensory socks off and remind us of many Easters past. Of course, for children the most essential part of Easter might be detecting Easter eggs. Or looking at one another and sharing the paschal greeting, “Alleluia. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia.”
Look up this paschal greeting in Wikipedia and you’ll see it translated into 79 languages. Seventy-nine languages! They even print ones Rastafarian, Hindustani, and Esperanto. That gives you some sense of Easter’s universality across space and time and cultures.
So that is the greeting I reserve for you this Sunday. “Allleluia! Christ is risen!” And the people affirm. “He is risen, indeed. Alleluia.” Perhaps the simplest things are the best.