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A 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.



Palm Sunday: But Can Jesus Trust You?

John 19.25-27  While on the cross, Jesus trusts his mother into the care of John.

Thesis: Beyond declaring that we trust Jesus with our lives, let’s be the kind of low-maintenance apprentices that Jesus can trust with his assignments.

We spend a lot of time encouraging people to trust their futures to Jesus. Indeed, this is a good thing. After some reminders of the importance of trusting our lives to Jesus, this sermon turns the issue around and asks, "But Can Jesus trust you?" The point is, Jesus is constantly looking for people he can trust with the assignments of the Kingdom where he is Lord. Will you be one of these?

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 dealing 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 Descending into Greatness.

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 Day, 2 & 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 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 on it.

Easter Sunday: Pascal Mystery a 2-sermon series for Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday

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.

A 2Easter: Whatever It Takes

John 20.19-29  The newly resurrected Jesus meets with his disciples and shows his wounds to Thomas.

Thesis: God does whatever IT takes to offer of relationship through Jesus Christ; the IT he’s looking for is our joyful worship in all seasons of life.  

This sermon uses contemporary anecdotes to help people grasp the concept of doing "whatever IT takes," and a lot of scripture to illustrate the many ways that Jesus demonstrated his willingness to do this for us. Throughout the sermon runs a thread of how we hope others will respond when we give them a sincere gift. This helps people understand Jesus' heart for relationship with us, and in the process encourages us towards a joyful and holy response to Jesus' gift.

A 3,4Easter: The Key to Mastering Money

This sermon easily stands alone, but there is also a follow-up sermon available: Money: the Shrewd Factor. For still more sermons on this general topic go to Money Sermons.

A 3Easter:  A Not So Ordinary Walk 

Luke 24.13-35 Jesus joins 2 travelers on their walk to Emmaus.

This one uses the walk to Emmaus and other biblical stories to unpack a personal evangelism lifestyle based on Ordinary Practices, the kind that God's Spirit loves to use to grow his Kingdom.  It is a good lead-in to the Good News For Everyone sermon series (see next).

A 4, 5, 6Easter: Good News for Everyone 3-sermon series

This series connects with the lectionary calendar through the scripture for the A 6Easter (Acts 17).  All three sermons come from the recorded texts of Paul's 3 sermons in Acts 13, 14, and 17. These unpack the need for us to contextualize the Good News for different settings. 

It's a very strong series, but if you only have one Sunday for it take a look at this version: Good News for People Around Here.

A 4Easter: A Biblically Functioning Community

Ephesians 3.10-11 (God's purpose for the church in the broader world), and Acts 2.42-47, 4.32-35 (The believers form a community and share their possessions.)

Thesis: The church is not designed as a lifestyle enclave, but a community that embodies the characteristics of Acts 2 and 4.

At the core of this sermon are these 6 characteristics of a biblically functioning community:

  1. They devoted themselves.
  2. They were of one heart and soul.
  3. They shared with each other.
  4. They lived in awe of God's activity among them.
  5. They devoted some meaningful attention to people outside their community.

A 5Easter: The Early Old Testament Story

Joshua 24  As his last main kingly act, Joshua reminds the Israelites of how they fit into the grand story of God.

Thesis: God’s call is to trust him and follow him with clarity, living the with-God life.

This sermon is an opportunity to interactively construct the top-level story of the early Old Testament period, and then to draw together the top-level messages from this story. Here's the start of it: 

I want to tell you a story …

One that I’ve illustrated on a napkin or a scrap of paper across many tables in many coffee shops and cafeterias. It helps people who are just beginning to discover the Bible, and for people who have read bits and pieces of the Bible but have never assimilated it into the big story. This is the story the Bible revisits over and over. Joshua tells it in the last chapter of the book by his name. Stephen tells it in Acts 7. Hebrews 11 summarizes it. And it shows up in many other places.

It’s been told over and over for 2,000 years since because it is that important a story; it is God’s story about himself, and about us...

Proper 25-26 (10/28-11/4): 4,000 Years and Still...

There are 2 sermons in this series:  

  1. 4,000 Years and Still Building
  2. 4,000 Years and Still Worshiping

These are part of the Alternate Life Collection mentioned directly above.

A 6Easter (A27): The Grand Partnership

1 Peter 3.15  ... Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... And John 6, where Jesus feeds the 5000.

This sermon uses two of my very favorite scriptures to encourage personal evangelism. The instruction in 1 Peter 3.15 is something I return to often; it frames my favorite style of communicating the Good News of Jesus in modern cultures. And every time I read John 6 it reminds me that I'm invited into the role of the young boy who offered his lunch to Jesus and in return became a Jesus' partner in mission. The boy didn't have much to offer, but what a joy he must have felt seeing what Jesus did with his little lunch.

A 7Easter (A28): Living Through Discouragement

Acts 1.8  You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes...

Thesis: We survive through discouraging times by remembering God’s work, his faithfulness, his promises, and by experiencing the presence of the Spirit of Jesus as we trust him with our present.

This sermon stands alone, and it is also can serve as a good followup to the Good News for Everyone series.  It looks at how Paul handled the many and varied difficulties on his missionary journeys - and it provides strategies for us when we're discouraged.

Pentecost: After New Life... a New Spirit  (Paschal Mystery, part 2)

This is a 2-sermon distributed series, meaning that there are several weeks between the first sermon and the second sermon. When you look at the content I think you'll see why. The first sermon is designed for Easter Sunday and the second is designed for Pentecost Sunday. The source material comes from Ronald Rolheiser's book The Holy Longing. It uses the Easter season narrative to illustrate God's ways to bring 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 new spin on the Easter story. If you have never preached the Paschal Mystery concept, please check this out! It is a very meaningful series for many parishioners and afterwards, you will find yourself referring back to it in various ways.

Pentecost: Life in the Spirit from the 10 Big Ideas of Christian Faith series

This one is part of a 10-sermon distributed series that I preached over 2-3 years. Life in the Spirit is the 10th  sermon in the 10 Big Ideas of Christian Faith series.

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