Preacher Norton was filled with excitement. Why shouldn’t he be? It was Holy Week and on Sunday, when the saints celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the church house would be full. Please don’t get the wrong impression. Preacher Norton gave his best week in and week out. But it’s just natural to be a bit more excited to preach to 120 than the normal 75 to 80. Besides, on Easter there’d be folks who normally never went to church. It was an annual opportunity that brought the best out of the Pastor. And it wasn’t just the delivery on Sunday morning; no, Preacher Norman put in a little extra time in the study as well. Three points and a poem was good for most Sundays, but Easter, well that just deserved something special.
Normally Preacher Norton took off on Monday. Word hadn’t reached Croweville that the going thing for the big churches was just a Sunday morning service. No, Croweville Baptist still had Sunday evening worship with a full sermon and everything. And Preacher Norton actually preached both services. No Videos. No simulcast. No Associate Pastor to take the evening service. It was just the Preacher and a group of folks who wanted to hear a sermon to close the Lord’s Day. That meant he was pretty wiped out on Monday morning. He usually slept in til about 7:00, then he and his wife, Doris, would drive out of town for a while. They enjoyed going out to the lake. Doris’ uncle had a twice wide pre-fab up at Lake Brantley and Norton and Doris had a standing invitation to come anytime. It was a relaxing get-a-way after a long Sunday. But not this week. He would hit the study Monday morning. He got home from the evening service, grabbed a Coke Zero and some pretzels, and turned on Sunday night baseball. The Dodgers were pounding the Braves. In the 5th inning it was already 6-1 and the commentators were using the time to promote some mindless sitcom on ABC. Preacher Norton left it on because he liked the background noise, but His mind was already on next Sunday morning. Easter. Resurrection Day. An idea popped in his head so quickly that when he jumped up to grab a pencil, he spilled his Coke Zero all over the couch. His startled shout brought Doris running from the bedroom with her revolver drawn. “Put the gun away, Doris, for goodness sake woman, are you going to shoot me for spilling my soda?” Norton shouted. Doris, who rarely got unnerved simply replied, “you might get shot if that drink stains my sofa.” Norton started to ask if she even remembered the morning sermon but thought better of it. The woman was, after all, armed. The idea was an acrostic. He jotted down the idea and decided to put if off until morning. The Dodgers scored two more in the seventh so he gave it up and headed for bed.
Monday morning in the study Preacher Norton contemplated his idea. An acrostic R-E-S-U-R-R-E-C-T-I-O-N. It was genius. A 12 point sermon! It could be epic. It would convey the message and be so impressive. “So now,” he thought, “I just have to come up with the words for the acrostic.” Preacher Norton’s week, and conversations with himself, went kind of like this:
Monday: let me see here. R is “raised”; E is “eternally”; S could be “saves” or “salvation”; U. U. Hmmm. Oh “us” of course. R can be “redemption” or “reconciled”; oh yeah, I need back to back R’s anyway. Another “e” I’ll come back to that. C for “cross”; T for testified; then I, then O, then N. I’ll come back to those.
Tuesday: Hmm. I, O, N. And the other E. What a mess. It’s too long. A twelve point sermon? Are you kidding? I should’ve gone to the lake.
Wednesday: let’s just go with the standard Easter sermon. Why couldn’t I be a Methodist where they mail you the sermon.
Thursday: ok think. How about just R-E-S-U-R wait a minute, are there two R’s or two S’s? Ok, just R-E-S-U-R-R-E-C-T. Still too long. Besides I have nouns, adjectives, past tense, present tense. There’s no symmetry. Good idea but, oh my goodness we have Good Friday service tomorrow. What to do? I better just read Scripture for that service. I’ll just read the seven sayings from the cross and explain the Gospel. There won’t be many people anyway.
Friday: no time in the study
Saturday: this could be a disaster if I don’t get focused. It’s Easter for goodness sake. Ok, let’s try the acrostic thingie, but really shorten it. How about A-R-O-S-E? What is the O going to be? Wait, is a guarantee “ensure” or “insure”? Where is that dictionary? I better let Doris know I’m working late. Ensure is “to make certain of providing.” That’s it! Resurrection Indicates Salvation Ensured. RISE. It even plays off the dumb saying of the Falcons. RISE. The resurrection shows or indicates that salvation is guaranteed. That might work.
By 10:45 on Sunday morning, Preacher Norton was feeling pretty confident that his acrostic sermon would be a hit. As he walked into the sanctuary he was further filled with excitement. The crowd was already gathering. Deacon Howard, who kept the Sunday School attendance, was waiting to make the official Sunday School count at 10:50 so he could include as many people as possible. It was going to be a big attendance day. Preacher Norton could hardly wait until the next Association Pastor’s meeting so he could talk about the crowd. The bells did there chiming at 10:55 and Norton took his place on the platform sure that this would be a Sunday to remember. He was definitely going to the lake tomorrow. Saturday nights can be long and tiresome for a preacher. Especially at Easter. Well, that’s it from Croweville where mischief hangs in the air like the lovely aroma of a gardenia blossom in spring.