This holy weekend was the first that I didn’t spend any time at my “home” church, even though I was in town. Knowing that by next Easter I am likely to be in full internship mode someplace, I wanted to be able to pop in someplace this year and just worship with no responsibilities.
For Good Friday, I visited the Lutheran church that I drive past most days on the way to work. It was good to attend a different Tenebrae service… they used 14 candles (instead of the seven I am used to) and they included some Lenten hymns I’d never heard before. Beautiful.
The one moment that stuck out to me was the final candle. Instead of snuffing it, the acolyte picked it up and walked it to the back of the sanctuary. After a final prayer, he brought it back to the altar. We left in silence, knowing that though the light of the world had been buried, hope remained. Hope that God’s love remained steadfast in the darkness of those three days.
On Sunday, I went to my adoptive church home – my Mom’s church. They have a lovely traditional sanctuary and service. I’m happy to worship in any setting, really, but after spending a couple of contemporary Easter services that felt a little too much like “any given Sunday,” I was ready for a more traditional Easter morning. Park Lake didn’t disappoint. The music was glorious, the lilies and the cross full of flowers and the incredible chancel banners brought new life into the sanctuary, and the sermon was challenging. And they ended with the Hallelujah chorus.
But really, neither of those experiences were the key to the meaningfulness of Easter for me this year. It really is about having spent weeks in with my Doctrine textbooks. Listening to those readings after wrestling with how God was able to become a person and retain all of God’s essence. Thinking about what it means that Christ conquered death, redeemed humanity, and mediated God’s righteousness to us… considering how important every part of that equation of life+death+resurrection really is. Knowing that for centuries, believers have struggled to put words to all of those mysteries and finally coming to the conclusion that we aren’t going to know all the answers. And simply worshiping my God: the God who loved me enough to create, claim, save, transform, call, fill, use and send me. To God’s glory in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the faith of the risen Christ.
He is risen, indeed!