In a recent long running discussion, the subject of Easter services came up and what is appropriate for teaching during such a service. It was my contention that Easter, being the single most pivotal event in the history of mankind, deserves to have the events of that day, indeed the events of that weekend memorialized every year at this time to the exclusion of all else. Without the Easter weekend event, there is no Christianity. It's that simple. The events of the Crucifixion through the Resurrection are essential events without which we are still bound by the law of Moses (if we gentiles even get to be considered). The whole weekend 2000 or so years ago took place to allow us the means by which we are forgiven and that physical death will not be the end for us. Now that Jesus died and rose we have the ultimate "in" regarding access to Heaven and God's presence.
So what was the services like at my church? That was a question posed to me after I critiqued the services of another. I begin with Thursday, Maundy Thursday and our Tennebrae service. In this service, the pastor begins by welcoming everyone and then speaks a bit about the service and what the point is. We look at this day as the day of the Last Supper and the events that surrounding it, such as Gethsemane, etc. So the choir, of which I am a part singing tenor, begins the Shadows of the Cross contada with a member of the elders doing readings in between hymns. The readings are simply a retelling of the events up to the Resurrection, and throughout, candles specially set up are extinguished as the readings and hymn singing go on. We then partake of communion, followed by another hymn.
Friday and Saturday, my wife and I were in Galena, IL celebrating our 20th anniversary, and she couldn't be happier.
Sunday, today, my wife attended the early service so as to give her time to prepare for the family coming over for Easter dinner and the daughter and I attended service at the usual time. A regulary feature of our Sunday service includes time for joys and concerns, wherein congregants express things in their lives that have brought them joy or given them cause for concern for which we can all pray together as a community or extended family. Both my wife and I each voiced our joy for our anniversary. Isn't that just too sweet? (Say "Awwww!" here.)
As the service progressed, all hymns were Resurrection related as were the readings from Scripture. Then came the sermon. The pastor, Pastor Pete, began to speak about "Dancing With The Stars" for the purpose of bringing up Buzz Aldren, who, I guess, is a contestant. He brought up Buzz because he landed on the moon and supposedly once there, asked Houston for a moment or two wherein he served up the Eucharist to the rest of the crew. I'd never heard that story before and I found it quite cool, but the point of bringing it up was that there were and are some who think the moon landing never happened. They think it was a hoax. Buzz doesn't care what they think because he was there and knows what is or isn't true about it.
Then Pastor Pete spoke of the Holocaust and how there exists those who think that didn't happen, but that there are still Jews alive with tattoos on their forearms who know if it did or didn't. From there, he spoke of the Resurrection and how some believe that never happened and have been such people since the time it did happen. And he spoke about belief in the Resurrection as an essential belief of the Christian faith. He spoke about whether or not there would be a Christian faith had not the Resurrection occurred.
So Pastor Pete spoke about, not flowers and clean water, but the Resurrection. He didn't really get too much into why it is important, but he didn't speak about some nonsense regarding politics in Roman occupied Jerusalem of the first century. No. He spoke about Easter. He spoke about the Resurrection and how it is an essential of our faith. And despite my serious reservations regarding the heretical teachings of the denomination in which my congregation is a part, I am pleased to know that at least in my church, we know what Easter is all about.