The New Testament says Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind and rose three days later. Some local clergy say their Easter sermons won’t need to say much more than that.
Christians celebrate resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday, which falls this year on March 31. The resurrection is the foundation of Christian belief, and its celebration often draws congregations filled with more than the usual number of guests, nonmembers and infrequent churchgoers. For families gathering from out of town, a highlight is the collective trek to an Easter service.
At Calvary Assembly of God, the Rev. Brian Campbell said he wants to make sure his sermon doesn’t upstage his Dunwoody church’s musical celebration.
“Easter, you know, for us, that’s like the Super Bowl of the church,” Campbell said. “Our whole basis of and the foundation and core value of what we believe is rooted in the resurrection, so the focus of the message and the focus of the day is just a huge celebration.”
Campbell said his message will be “streamlined” and his preaching style “practical.”
Parishioners at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Sandy Springs can expect a similarly straightforward theme.
“I have creatively entitled my sermon ‘The Easter Sermon,’” the Rev. Aaron Menikoff said. “I keep the same title every year, and I’m preaching from Mark, chapter 16, verses 1-8, simply a verse-by-verse description of that text focusing on the resurrection.”
Menikoff said it’s important to remember that the message might be going out to people who aren’t regular churchgoers.
“I’m aware there may be individuals who may not be adherents, truly,” he said. “They may be coming out of obligation. I don’t feel any pressure, but I do want to be clear about the essentials of the Christian faith.”
The Rev. Jim Duffy of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Brookhaven said Catholics are celebrating a little early this year. The Catholic Church has selected an Argentinian, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has taken the name Pope Francis, to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in February.
“From our perspective, with the election of our new pope, I maintain Easter has come early, bringing hope and new expectations and joy to our church,” Duffy said.
He said his sermon will focus on “hope.”
“The Paschal candle, the big candle we light on Saturday night, which enters the church, the candle shatters the darkness and brings light and hope,” Duffy said. “We are the Paschal candle. We are baptized in Jesus and we are the hope of our world. When we enter the room, we are to illuminate and dispel despair and darkness and bring light and hope.”
The Rev. David Michael at Faith Cornerstone Church in Brookhaven intends to take a more direct approach.
“We’re going to talk about Jesus and ‘He is risen’ and you’ve been forgiven and your sins are no more,” Michael said. “That’s basically it.”
The Rev. Brad Miller at Brookhaven Christian Church said the challenge of the Easter sermon is to make it sound fresh. As a practical matter, it’s a story Christians hear often.
“My thought has been to make it as straightforward as possible,” Miller said. “This is the day we celebrate, that all that the things that were promised came to pass. There’s not a need for anything to grab people’s attention. You just tell them the story.”
Dr. Michael Youssef at Church of the Apostles in Buckhead said the story is well known, but Christianity wouldn’t hold up without it.
“The only reason I know the moment I close my eyes in death that I will be in Heaven with Jesus is because of that resurrection,” he said. “That assurance would not be at all possible without the resurrection.”