Written by Anthony Moujaes
As the season of Lent draws toward its conclusion at the end of this month, a United Church of Christ minister in Boston will deliver a pair of sermons on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, March 20 and March 27, to an ecumenical audience that will culminate the six-week journey of penance and prayer, marked by the death and resurrection of Christ. The Rev. Nancy Taylor, senior minister of Old South Church in Boston, is the featured preacher for those two sacred days on "Day 1," the nationally broadcast ecumenical radio program, with host and executive producer Peter Wallace.
In her first sermon, Taylor will "make the case that Palm Sunday, not Pentecost, is the church's real birthday," she said. "It was on Palm Sunday that the commitment to follow Jesus became public and political. It was on Palm Sunday that the followers of Jesus rejected the state, rejected empire, rejected worldly power and pomp, and became players and protagonists in the kingdom of God."
Her sermon for Palm Sunday, "Players and Protagonists in the Kingdom of God," is drawn from the account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem in Luke 19:28-40. Taylor's sermon for Easter Sunday, "Divine Comedy," is based on Luke 24:1-12.
"My Easter sermon invites listeners to pause to enjoy the joke Easter plays on death and on empire," Taylor said. "Easter Sunday is a day to laugh at Death and to laugh at Empire because in the end, the joke's on them. In the end, God wins. In the end—no matter what, no matter what happens, no matter what you are facing — Death is Dead and God's got your back.
Taylor has served since 2005 as the 20th senior minister and chief executive officer of Old South Church in Boston. Taylor's dual roles as minister and CEO reflects Old South's dual identity as both thriving urban church and historic leadership institution in Boston.
A graduate of Macalester College, Taylor earned her M.Div. degree from Yale Divinity School and a D.Min. degree from Chicago Theological Seminary. Before her call to Old South Church, she served as conference minister of the UCC's Massachusetts Conference (2001-2005). She also has pastored churches in Idaho, Connecticut and Maine. She was a moderator of the UCC's biennial General Synod in 2001 (Kansas City, Mo.).
The program also includes Wallace's interview of Taylor, a recognized preacher, speaker, teacher, and workshop leader. Her ministry has been recognized through several awards, including the Rabbi Murray I. Rothman Award for outstanding inter-religious leadership (2011), Yale Divinity School's award for Distinction in Congregational Ministry (2009), and the Hewlett-Packard Award for Distinguished Leadership in Human Rights (1999). She was named among the Boston Globe's "Best of the New Faces" in 2005. Taylor is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council at Yale Divinity School, where she chairs the dean's task force on the revitalization of Christianity.
This marks the second consecutive year that a UCC minister will preach on Day 1 for consecutive weekends during Lent. Last year, the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of the UCC's Local Church Ministries, preached the final three Sundays of the Lent calendar.
Day 1 has been broadcast weekly for nearly 70 years, known formerly as "The Protestant Hour." It is distributed to more than 200 radio stations across America and overseas. Listeners can tune in to Day1 radio on one of its affiliate stations, or listen online at day1.org.