On this upcoming Second Sunday of Easter, I wanted to share this sermon I preached back in 2006. It dealt a bit with some of the struggles of church planting and relating that to the fear of the disciples in the locked room. Here’s a snippet:
You know, I’ve learned something about starting a church: it’s damn hard.
Okay, you probably didn’t expect a pastor to use the word “damn” in a sermon, but the fact of the matter is, planting a church is hard. It’s hard for a lot of reasons, but mainly because those involved in planning the church have such grand visions. I had hoped tons of people would show up and that our denominational bodies would give us tons of money to help us get started. In a way, I’m like the person Gordon Atkinson is talking about: I wanted to create this really cool church with a swingin’ pastor that would just be kick-ass.
What happened? Rev. Sanders got introduced to little thing called reality. Lot’s of people haven’t shown up. Some have stayed for a while and then moved on. Others made tons of excuses. As for the money, the denomination isn’t in the position to give us loads of money, though the money we have received has been helpful. To top things off, I worry about my colleague and fellow co-pastor who is trying to look for work and keep his financial ship from sinking. I can remember preparing wondering worship services with mind-blowing sermons and only two people show up. And there are times when I feel that no one cares about Community of Grace and no one would miss us.
Maybe that’s why today’s gospel text is so important for me, and someone must have thought it was an important word for the Church to hear, because it’s the only text that appears during all three years of the revised common lectionary. As the story opens, ten of the disciples are in a locked room in Jerusalem. They were scared. The religious leaders and the Romans had succeeded in killing Jesus and they were probably fearful that they were next.