During our Maundy Thursday service my role was to help preside at communion. Because of the way the sanctuary was set up, with readers plus the choir, I was seated in a corner of the chancel. I couldn't see the readers; I only saw the light going dimmer after each reading. Finally, there was just the Christ candle, and then that, too, was taken out of the sanctuary and we were in darkness and in silence together.
We have a new choir director who graced us during that service with a solo. He sang "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" Not usually one of my favorites, but his voice conveys such rich emotion for me. I was struck with awe, and carried away...
I imagined the desolation Jesus must have felt. Betrayed. Abandoned. He was about to be given up to the authorities and no one could even stay awake to share his agony. What utter loneliness.
Sitting there on the chancel, hidden in the corner, I could feel something of the profound sadness of it. I don't feel that every year. It was heartwrenching this year.
My God, what we human beings do to each other.
And then this morning....about 14 of us gathered outside in a park near the church at sunrise. (It was overcast where I live, but we could see a tiny line of pink horizon in the east. Good enough.) Cool, with a slight breeze--just the way I like it. The ducks and geese were swimming about 50 feet from us. Lynn identified the various birds for us as they sang their way by. We spontaneously formed a circle. As the service progressed, I kept looking outside the circle to the park, noticing how very green it was. Beautiful green everywhere, as the grass has turned and the trees are budding. The familiar words of Scripture read. The liturgy of prayer, signifying our gratitude to God for the new life that is ours. The forgiveness that is ours. The joy that is ours. Yes, Christ is risen indeed.
And then in the 9 a.m. service, our contemporary "Jesus, Justice, and Joy" worship....Denise read the Scripture, Luke 24: 1-12, where Mary Magdelene encounters the two angels who say, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Denise read that question three times. Three times she emphasized -- no, with her lovely voice, she pounded those words into our ears! She gave us all time to hear the query, time enough for me to hear God ask me that question: Why do I look for the living among what is dead? Why do I expect to find real life when I continue to let fear be an obstacle? Why do I expect to find real life when I crowd out real life with busy-ness and concern for things that simply do not matter in the beauty of God's milieu?
And then the beauty of the children's excitement on Easter morning with our activities (Lisa organized a fun cooking project for them in our church kitchen and social hall) followed by our traditional Easter Egg Hunt ....the flowering cross at our 11 a.m. service...the baptism of little Lila, the melodic harmonies of the bell choir and the singing....thoughtful sermon....a joyful community. A community for which I am so very grateful.