We don’t really “leave” Easter, hopefully, but live into Jesus’ resurrection, now that the liturgical season is behind us once again. But before the flowered cross is packed away, the banners retired, and the plastic eggs gathered for next year’s egg hunt, I wanted to take a minute to say thank you to our pastors, music directors, and other staff members for their hard work to make Lent and Holy Week so meaningful for us.
Many of us are not able to take advantage of the services at the church during Holy Week, due to work commitments and family schedules. Well do I remember what that precious week of spring break means to families with school-age children! For others Easter is a time to return home to visit parents and grandparents and perhaps the church of our youth – and we also enjoy seeing old friends return to us. With our children grown, Bo and I were able this year to be there for all the Holy Week services offered. And we were richly rewarded.
Palm Sunday’s service of processionals and waving branches began the week with reminders of Jesus’ return to Jerusalem, triumphant but shadowed by what was to come. If you didn’t hear it, I encourage you to read Jeff’s sermon online. In it he described the other procession into Jerusalem at the same time: The royal procession of Pontius Pilate at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers, symbol of the Empire and its power. Jeff challenged us to ponder in which procession we are marching – the procession that glorifies power through violence or the one that lifts up the power of self-giving love?
Later in the week Jo led us in a Maundy Thursday service that included communion and hand- and foot-washing. Participating in the hand-washing that evening was profoundly moving, offering a glimpse of love reflected through humility – the example of Jesus’ love.
The next day at noon Jeff offered a meditation on the meaning of the cross, followed by the Scripture readings that tell the story of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, conviction, and crucifixion. These passages were beautifully read by members of the church and our pastors, punctuated with the haunting hymns that also tell the story and the gradual extinguishment of lit candles into darkness.
And finally Easter Sunday came, with its glorious music and proclamation that in the resurrection of Christ God has conquered death, evil, and the power of violent human Empire for all time.
I hope our pastors took a well-earned day of rest on Monday. I also hope they, Brian and Bill, Kim, and indeed all the staff, feel the gratitude of the congregation for the extra work and love that went into this season. Let’s all make a point to thank them.
More importantly, let’s commit to living into the resurrection they have so beautifully and faithfully proclaimed.
– Melanie Rodenbough