Yesterday I preached about emptying oneself, as St. Paul says Jesus did (Philippians 2:6-11). In Paul’s view, Jesus emptied himself OF himself so that he could be filled with God and God’s will. I encouraged my congregation to empty themselves during this Holy Week walk—to empty themselves of fears and worries and anxieties and the things over which we have no control. I suggested that we especially try to lose all those things that clutter up our lives and interfere with our sense of the holy. I said that if we were emptied, then we could be filled with Christ, and his peace and love and mercy, instead of all those other unhelpful things.
As I was preaching this yesterday, it occurred to me—as it often does—that I was speaking to myself. I’m the one who needs to let go of all that stuff and let myself be filled with Christ. In my case, that would be all the Holy Week “stuff” that has been so much on my mind in these past days. I don’t mean that I should simply drop everything. None of us would be happy with that outcome. However, the stress that I place on myself, the worrying about every little detail, the fear that something will be wrong in the bulletin or on the slides or in my leader’s book: these are the things that drive me crazy and in the end are mostly unimportant. Of course, nobody wants a sloppy, thrown-together worship experience. But when I let these little details overwhelm the true Holy Week experience, I am depriving myself and my congregation of a pastor who is focused and calm and spiritually present.
So this week, I will try to follow my own homiletic advice: to empty myself of worry and unimportant details and unnecessary stress. I will try to make space for Christ so that I might feel his peace, his joy, his love, his mercy instead of my anxiety and stress.
As we walk towards the empty tomb, let us do so as empty people, filled only with Jesus.