Tuesday, April 10, 2012

what easter means.

I've mentioned here before, perhaps several times, that the church we attend doesn't pay much attention to the traditional church calendar. Growing up, that didn't bother me too much, but as I get older and reach a greater understanding of what those days on the calendar really represent, I find myself missing something I never really had.

Thankfully, Jordan feels similarly, and we find ourselves supplementing the church of our childhood with visits to other denominations and services, particularly around church "holidays" (really, I suppose, "holy days").

Each Christmas, we attend a lessons and carols service that's the highlight of our season. This past year's service, in particular, holds special meaning. My grandmother's downhill spiral began right before Christmas, and as a result, our entire holiday was turned inside out. Christmas felt nothing like the Christmases we'd celebrated before. But right before any of that, before the turmoil and the sadness and the grief, my entire family joined me and Jordan at the advent and carols service, and I can't tell you, looking back, what a gift that was. I can't tell you what it means that in all the chaos of last year's Christmas, God still managed to see fit to remind us of what the season is really about.

We love the advent and carols service, and we make a concerted effort to attend every year. We haven't, though, made the same effort for Easter. In fact, this is the first year since we've been married that we've stayed in town for the holiday, that we've had a chance to participate in some of the rituals area churches engage in to show their respect and gratitude for the day that changed everything.

On Friday, Jordan and I headed to our first ever Catholic church service, and although it was completely and totally out of our comfort zones, there were parts of it that were powerful reminders of just how small we are. I noticed that a friend on Twitter commented that there's "nothing quite like shouting 'crucify Him!' in a Good Friday service to humble yourself for the weekend," and I certainly agree. I felt almost angry that I had to say those words, until I remembered that as they were, so am I.

Despite the discomfort, despite the awkward shuffle as we headed to the front to kiss the feet of Jesus, despite the hurt I felt at not being able to take in communion with people I consider brothers and sisters... Despite all that, Friday night was a blessing. Friday night reminded me of the part I play in the crucifixion story.

I am the crowd.

But because of His redemption, I'm not any more.

I wish the church we attended made a bigger deal out of Holy Week. I wish that instead of pretending we keep quiet about Easter because we celebrate His death, burial, and resurrection every week, we would acknowledge that Easter is special. Easter is unique.

Easter changed my life.

Easter turned this entire world upside down, and because of that, it did the same to mine.

I am so grateful that this year, even in the tiniest, perhaps most uncomfortable of ways, I felt a little bit closer to the cross. I'm grateful I have a husband who's willing to step outside the box and attend Good Friday services, grateful that our own minister chose to devote time discussing what Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mean in each of our lives.

In fact, this Sunday, as our own church recognized and celebrated Easter, I was grateful for our minister's reminder that we're all still living a three-day story. We all have days like Friday, where we fail, and we are miserable, and we are dying, and God extends His love to us in the most sacrificial of ways. We have Saturdays, times when God seems silent, when life goes on quietly, when the Father shows His patience, and grief or complacency settle in to stay a while.

But there is always Sunday.

There are new beginnings, and fresh starts, and good news beyond our wildest imaginations. On Sundays, the Father is no longer silent. He exhibits His power, and we get to look on in awe.

I am so grateful for Easter, because Easter changed my life.

* image from Spiritually Speaking


monster cakes said...

"Easter changed my life." Those words bring tears to my eyes. I was just telling Justin how Easter is my favorite holiday, and he seemed surprised since I usually get so zealous for Christmas, and I think your words best explain why: Easter changed my life.

jenna said...

I love so much of what you said, but I especially love "We all have Fridays...We have Saturdays, times when God seems silent, when life goes on quietly, when the Father shows His patience, and grief or complacency settle in to stay a while." (I am currently stuck in the "Saturday".)

But praise God!!! "There is always Sunday."

So much to say.... Instead of writing more, I will just let it all mean something to me.. because it profoundly does.