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C Easter Season

The Easter season the most significant time in the entire Christian calendar. It begins on Palm Sunday and continues through Pentecost Sunday. This web page contains descriptions and links to sermon notes full of ideas for preachers. It can also serve as devotional material for anyone else. Each sermon is linked to the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A.

In the listing below, clicking on a sermon title takes you to a Google Doc of the sermon notes. You can view/print these from any browser, or download the file in various formats (such as Word, RTF, or PDF). If you are using a version of Word prior to 2007 you may need to download it in RTF. Then it will open with most (if not all) the formatting intact.

You can also access any of these sermons from the Sermon Chart, which displays them in the context of the entire 3-year lectionary cycle. Browse down the second column until you see the lectionary season of interest. To access the sermon notes just click on the sermon title.

Not a lectionary preacher? You can change the Sermon Chart so that it lists the sermons in the order of the primary biblical text for each sermon. In the Sermon Chart, browse down to the chart and look at the right-hand column. Click on Sort: Ascending. Notice that many sermons list additional scriptures. If you want to find all entries for a particular biblical book from the whole list just use your browser's Find function. The top of the Sermon Chart web page explains the biblical text abbreviation system I use.

For more about the Revised Common Lectionary, click on Lectionary Basics and Lectionary Preaching.

Feel free to extract any ideas, outlines, or entire sermons from my site. That's what it is for. To subscribe to email or RSS notifications of new posts from this site, click IsbellOnline News.

Blessings,
Tim


Palm Sunday: Moving Over

Luke 19.28-38. Peter said, "We have left everything to follow you." Jesus replies, "Yes, and..."

Thesis: The key to following Christ is to surrender the “driver’s seat” to him.

Four great stories help communicate our need to get out of the "driver's seat" of our life so that the Lord Jesus has control. Although it's hard for many of us to do, things go much better when we are in the passenger's seat.

#experiment PDF version of Moving Over and Publish to the web version of Moving Over.


Palm Sunday: Descending into Greatness

Philippians 2.5-11. Jesus did not think of equality with God as something to cling to...

Thesis: We are called to follow our Lord's example and descend into greatness.

This sermon starts with a reflexive, using questions such as, Your boss says your company is being reorganized and your job is history. But good for you, there are 2 other positions that you can apply for. One represents a promotion, the other a demotion. Which interests you more?  Then it moves on to show how the Christian gospel turns the worldly drive for everything to "go up and to the right" on its proverbial head. 

And it shows how Jesus, himself, descended into greatness. And that he did so to deal with the one thing that we desperately need dealt with - but which we cannot deal with on our own: sin. Near the end is an unpacking of the classic "sin gap," along with an offer of salvation. This sermon is my repackaging of the thinking in Bill Hybels' book: Descending into Greatness.


Easter: If Christ Is Not Raised

1 Corinthians 15.12-20. If Christ is not raised then... your faith is useless.

Thesis: If Christ is not raised our hope is all in vain – but, fortunately, Christ is risen.

This begins by addressing 2 groups of people. Group A people know that they're not perfect, but they are convinced that Jesus rose from dead. They have already made personal and decisive commitments to follow Jesus. They don’t always live up to these, but they are serious in moving in that direction.

Group B people come with another point of view. They also know they're not perfect, but they are not convinced that Jesus rose from the dead. And even if he did, they don’t see what that has to do with their imperfections.

From there the sermon speaks mostly to Group A people but does so in a way that Group B people overhear the significance of the resurrection of Jesus. This was my adaptation for people at New Life of another great Timothy Keller sermon.


Easter and 2Easter: Simply Christian 2-sermon series

This is a 2-sermon series that unpacks the core truths of Christian faith. It is designed for consecutive Sundays. In my case, I preached these on Easter and the Sunday following. The source material for this series is N.T. Wright's book Simply Christian. Click on the heading link just above for the web page describing the series and the links to the supporting materials. 


Easter and Pentecost: Paschal Mystery 2-sermon series

This is a distributed 2-sermon series, meaning that there are several weeks between the first sermon and the second sermon. The first sermon is designed for Easter Sunday; the second is designed for Pentecost Sunday. The source material comes from Ronald Rolheiser's book The Holy Longing. Using the Easter season narrative it illustrates God's ways of bringing new life out of death, and then the Pentecost story's promise to give us a new spirit to go with the new life. This is a fresh spin on the Easter season story. If you have never preached the Paschal Mystery concept, please check this out! It is a very meaningful series for many parishioners and afterward you will find yourself referring back to it in various ways.

Easter, 2Easter, 3Easter: Managing the Gap 3-sermon series

This is a 3-sermon series designed for consecutive Sundays, beginning with Easter. The source material is my notes from listening to a talk by Paul Vance at the Northern California Nazarene District Pastors and Spouses Retreat in 2006. This series deals with the gap between our external expectations and our internal reality. The second sermon is an excellent approach to preaching/teaching on entire sanctification and holiness. Most readers will find some very fresh and practical perspective in it.


4Easter: Miracles, Suffering, then Victory

Acts 9.32-43, Rev 7.9-17

Thesis: God calls us to build his Kingdom through times of miracles, times of suffering, and while surrounded by all kinds of people - just like Peter and the apostles did.

This story uses Peter's life to illustrate the sort of life God has in mind for all of us. It's especially encouraging to people who are struggling or suffering because it shows that this is part of our purpose/calling. And it uses the Revelation passage to teach that, in the end, there is victory.


5Easter: It's God's Initiative

Revelation 21.1-6

Thesis: God’s primary mission in human history is to redeem people into a community suitable to live with him forever.

This is one of 10 Big Ideas of Christian Faith distributed sermon series. It is also one of the early sermons that grew into The Alternate Life Collection.


6Easter: Moving to Christ-Centered Living

Acts 16, Philippians 1.  Paul and Silas launch the church in Philippi, then years later Paul writes an epistle to this same church. 

Thesis: The call on every Christian is to Christ-centered living, which invariably involves reflection on Scripture. 

In addition to connecting Acts 16 with Paul's epistle to Philippi, this sermon taps into the Willow Creek spiritual formation material called REVEAL. This is a study on how people come into Christian faith and what were the essential elements of their subsequent growth. In this sermon I use REVEAL to underscore the huge impact of reading and reflecting on scripture for helping people grow through four stages: Exploring Christ, Growing in Christ, living Close to Christ, and Christ-Centered.

This sermon also serves as the first of a 4-sermon series called A Study in Philippians. In this series, each sermon can easily stand alone. Indeed, the second sermon in the series is a practical fit for 7Easter (next Sunday). It's called Getting Unstuck


7Easter: Getting Unstuck

Philippians 2

I don't have a sermon to offer you that uses a text for 7 Easter. But if you used "Moving to Christ Centered Living" for 6 Easter, then a good follow-on is the second sermon in the Study in Philippians series for 7 Easter: Getting Unstuck. It also uses the REVEAL material and focuses on helping people who are stuck in one of the stages of Christian growth get on the move again.


Pentecost: Paschal Mystery 2nd sermon: After New Life... New Spirit.

See the 2-sermon series: Paschal Mystery which is described higher up on this page. Even if you didn't use the first sermon in the series for Easter Sunday, you can easily adapt this one for Pentecost because it begins with a summary of the Easter sermon. This series teaches a very powerful concept in a way that is easy to remember, precisely at the times you and your parishioners need it.


Pentecost: Life in the Spirit

Acts 2.1-21. The Holy Spirit comes and Peter preaches to a crowd.

Thesis: From Pentecost forward there is a new mountain, a new ministry, and a new people.

This is the last sermon in the series: The 10 Big Ideas of Christian Faith. The old mountain was Mt. Sinai; the new one is the believer in Jesus. The old ministry was living God's Law in the context of the surrounding world; the new ministry living is with the power of the Spirit to testify to the wonders of God in the surrounding world, thereby building the church among all kinds of people. And the old people were separated by culture and sectarian interests; the new Spirit-filled people don't just tolerate all kinds of people, they sincerely love them as God loves them.

I'm not sure where these ideas came from originally, but probably Timothy Keller.


Pentecost: God Comes Down

Genesis 11.1-9, Acts 1-2. From the Tower of Babel to Pentecost (and beyond).

Thesis: God always comes down, invites us into relationship, tells us to go and multiply, and then fills all who follow him with his Spirit so their witness bears fruit.

This is one of the most enjoyable sermons you'll ever preach, and at the same time it is theologically profound. If you have never preached one of the ways to connect the Tower of Babel story to Pentecost, give this one a read.

It begins, without explanation, by building a tower of blocks on the platform. Then it reviews the world's skyscrapers as a way to set up the Bible's skyscraper story: the Tower of Babel. The Babel story reminds us of God's eternal assignment: live in relationship with me as you go out into the world and witness to the with-God life. As you do this I will make you fruitful. Then the sermon traces this tread from Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Babel, to Abram/Sarai... to Jesus telling his disciples to Go, Multiply..., and finally Pentecost. This is a wonderful sermon for any congregation, especially around Pentecost.

(There is another way to preach the connection between Babel and Pentecost. It is to unpack the fact that at Babel, God confuses the languages to divide the people and at Pentecost God interprets the languages across cultural boundaries in order to unify people! So, in a sense, Pentecost is the anti-Babel. I know I've taught or preached this someplace, but so far I can't find the notes.) 


Pentecost: Too Good to be True

John 14.12. Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works... 

Thesis: The incarnation of God in Christ continues with his re-incarnation in the “Body of Christ,” the church.

I originally preached this during Advent, but since the John scripture also fits Pentecost I decided to drop it in this collection, too. 

A few times each year someone asks me about an Old Testament story where the picture of God is very harsh. For example, where God orders the destruction of an entire people-group. Or where God himself destroys a people-group, like Sodom. I don’t like these stories, I wish they weren't in the Bible; but they are. This sermon is about how to think about such things.

As the sermon progresses it unpacks the implications of the incarnation of Jesus to his re-incarnation in the body of Christ, and how this fulfills the John scripture. This sermon is a strong invitation for people who self-identify themselves as Christians to actually take up their assignment in the body of Christ.

Blessings,

Tim


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