This Easter was different.
I went to my first Easter Vigil, snuck into the dark sanctuary, unsure of what was waiting. Scraped and squeaked the plasticky pew cushions every time I shifted (whose idea was it to put plastic in a place of quietness? certainly not someone as fidgety as I am…). Sat next to a dear friend and for the first time in a while, felt like I was worshiping with family. The scriptures were read in the dark, and the long line of people doing this, the Jews reading to each other the stories of Creation and the Exodus, the Christians telling the story of Christ’s redemption, the early church. History always catches me, makes me want to be a tiny part of it. I was now one of those Christians, one of who knows how many, who was hearing the Word of God.
This wasn’t high church – no gongs, no dramatic theater – it was like a mix of Evangelical understanding of Christ’s grandeur. A pretty good mixing, actually.
And after three hours of sitting, standing, singing, praying, we ate and ate and celebrated the resurrection of our God.
I had wanted the eating to be at midnight – the dawn of Easter Sunday – because that was symbolic. As the clock strikes midnight on that Sunday, we dance and jump and proclaim our salvation.
We ate at 11:30. Just shy of symbolic, but Easter Sunday was coming quickly, and 6:55am too quickly for me.
I slept in Brookline and rose FAR TOO EARLY to sing three services at another church, a historic church, a church that many good people have called home. But it doesn’t feel like home to me, and I am not looking forward to it. K. in her sweetness rises too, makes me a cup of coffee, pretends it’s normal to wake up so early on a weekend, and as I head out the door, we say, “Happy Easter!” and we mean it, our voices ringing in the empty Sunday streets.
After the second service, (and yes, of course we are singing the Hallelujah Chorus, among other oratorio pieces), I am wondering if I’m gonna make it. Another cup of coffee. A slice of smoked ham and cheese because there is nothing worse than passing out on risers because you don’t have enough protein. I am praying from where I sit on the floor, praying that I make it through, that God reminds me what it means to worship, what it means to have a ministry while you are trying to worship.
It was probably the hardest Easter Sunday I’ve had. I certainly didn’t feel at ease. That’s the way Pastors always feel, I guess, on their toes, ready to “perform.” Singing on a regular Sunday feels like that too, but not nearly as bad.
Home there were plates of cheeses and humous, crackers and olives, rounds of warm brie with apricot jam (this made lovingly by my cousin), and later two hams dripping with juice, scalloped potatoes, homemade rolls.
There is always someone serving.
My parents in the kitchen long before the meal, working to feed family and friends, slicing, baking, kneading and buttering.
Me, pretending to sing well even when I felt like I was so tired my vocal cords were dried up.
The Pastor, preaching the Good News of our redemption, of Christ’s miraculous resurrection, of God’s promise fulfilled.
I feel, this week, a sense of hope. I wish that every week there was such energy in my worship, in our churches, in our homes. I wish I were never self-conscious of proclaiming where my hope comes from. Maybe every year it will get a little easier, and I will be able to hold on to this joy that is Easter.