The phrase goes ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ but I believe there is something to Dallas Willard’s comment in The Divine Conspiracy that “presumed familiarity has led to unfamiliarity, unfamiliarity has led to contempt, and contempt has led to profound ignorance.”
When something becomes common to us, it can likely (and ironically) become that much more unknown to us. Common things are unnoticed, unquestioned, and eventually unseen behind the newer and louder things that overshadow them.
Maybe this is why the cross fits so nicely and neatly with all of the other ‘Easter’ things happening every spring.
This one radical symbol has become as innocuous as the edible Easter bunny it is tucked behind. Sadly, this doesn’t just happen to the symbols of Easter, but also is true for the real meaning of Easter.
Even with a story as beautiful and powerful as Christ’s death and resurrection, there are people in every Easter service who have, no doubt, allowed a sense of familiarity to creep in. The regular church attender may experience a loss of ‘luster’ for the Easter story because of regular church attendance. The Chreaster’s (Christmas + Easter) annual visits are all muffled into one and become predictable.
The Challenge of Communicating the Timelessness of Easter In Timely Language
Every pastor or teacher lives in this reality as they approach the creation of their Easter sermon outline. Their challenge is not how to change the story or make it more appealing. The Gospel stands on its own. Their challenge is to communicate the Good News in new, fresh, and unique ways that connect the listener to the power of the resurrection.
Narrative is how God passed along his story from generation to generation. Parable is how Jesus communicated the truths of the Kingdom of God to those who had become familiar with religion.
A compelling narrative story is a very powerful tool for penetrating familiarity and allowing the Holy Spirit to instill awe, wonder, conviction, and challenge the soul.
Pastors, do not approach Easter Sunday relying upon only the stories and experiences familiar to you. In preparation for Easter Sunday, allow yourself to be exposed to new, fresh, compelling, and timely ideas that other pastors, leaders, thinkers, and believers have birthed into the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Easter Ideas to Inspire and Coordinating to Resurrection Sunday
If you don’t know where to start — start here with a collection of 50 Easter Sermon Ideas. Use the examples as is or rely upon them to inspire you in your preparation. The point is to go into Easter with a plan to communicate the same story in a way that respects the here and now.
Be sure that whatever themes and ideas you lean upon in your sermon, those same themes and ideas are present throughout your entire Easter celebration experience. Put together an Easter service plan that will coordinate every moment prior to Easter to anticipate Resurrection Sunday and every moment after, to creating disciples.
Dallas Willard’s words are true… “presumed familiarity has led to unfamiliarity, unfamiliarity has led to contempt, and contempt has led to profound ignorance.” This statement is not only true of those sitting in the pews, but can also those manning the pulpit. This is your invitation to make yourself unfamiliar with the Easter story and tell it in a new and amazing way.