Easter Sunday. The spring of the Church calendar–new life spilling out of the grave clothes. One of highest of High Sundays, Resurrection Day punctuates the season of Lent with an exclamatory joy, life wins and death loses. We feast around the table, all of us gussied up and shining. He is risen, indeed.
I said the words to myself, because I didn’t go to church on Easter. It was early in the day, the sun still climbing above the rooftops as songs of Resurrection began to rise in gatherings near and far. I stared out the kitchen window and wondered if perhaps my church card might be revoked for not going to church on this, of all the days. The girls went, so they were safe. The rest of us, in trouble, I guess. I cried a bit at the kitchen table, while I scribbled prayers to Jesus.
In spite of the truth of the Resurrection and the celebration, my heart is sad today, homesick for the familiar (and good) things about church and Church.
To be some kind of fair, our church held only one service on Easter morning: 6:30 Sunrise Service. My mind reached back, thinking of how many Sunrise Services I promised my dad I would attend only to bow out at the break of day. All of the years that John served as pastor and orchestrated sunrise liturgies, I participated in zero. To say I’m not a morning person is an understatement. But for this Easter, I had decided what to wear and set my alarm. We were all going.
My heart was not in going. I had not gone to the Maundy Thursday service, or the Good Friday service. My family went to the Good Friday service, but I did not. When the circumstances of Holy Saturday unfolded like they did (which constitutes another post altogether) and we went to bed much later than we planned, it was not difficult to change our Sunday morning itinerary.
But it was not easy, staying home from church on Easter. For many reasons, most of which aren’t the ones I might have anticipated.
I busied myself in my kitchen, preparing the feast we would share with another Kentucky-to-Colorado transplant family. In my spirit, however, I was in church sanctuaries of my past. While I rolled out challah dough, I stood beside my dad and heard him change octaves as he sang “Up from the grave He arose.” I lifted high the cross and sang hallelujah with the choirs. I smelled lilies. I saw John in his pastoral robe. I saw the people who I knew were in those very sanctuaries, and boy, my heart ached.
The truth is, I’m a bit raw still from years of ministry. I am sad still, sad about my own blunders of hitting and missing even with the best of intentions. I am tired still, tired from holding up a level of protection around my husband and our family, tired from the general urgency of church culture, weary from general church culture. Until I slowed down significantly, I didn’t know the impact.
I love spring and the hope it measures out on this old earth, the whispers of promise it delivers to me. The season of Lent ended for me with an ellipsis… no definitive exclamation point. Easter came this year with a reminder, a word that my church-self needs as I rest in the waiting.
The world was good
The world is fallen
The world will be redeemed
O hold on to the promise
The stories are true
That Jesus makes all things new