Thursday, April 28, 2011

How I Ruined Easter Service.

I will be honest with you (it’s this new thing I’m doing). Easter is not my favorite Sunday of the year. My issues are practical, not theological. Often, and despite the best efforts of my church and friends, Easter kind of sneaks up on me. I find myself surprised on Saturday night that I have to find something on the high end of presentable to wear, cook an egg dish for the earliest potlock of the year, and show up to church before the sun rises. My groove gets thrown off – and I don’t even have any little girls to wrestle into tights.

This is a shame, because Easter Sunday (also known in my circles as Resurrection Sunday) is a celebration of the very core of my identity. Jesus Christ, the perfect son of God, willingly died an unjust death and unlocked a depthless mercy. This mercy is what makes me a Christian. Christ rose to life again on the third day. He conquered death. And now he wraps his arms around me, warts and all, and presents me to the Father.

It’s a beautiful story, and an every day story, but once a year we celebrate this remarkable event in a special way. With egg dishes and sunrise services and cantatas.

Cross City Church, being the reasonable baby church that it is, opted for a simple celebration for Easter. A nine a.m. service followed by lunch at the Burns’s house.

We all had our roles. Ken was leading music, Scott was teaching. Melissa prepared to feed us all afterward. Beth was teaching the kiddos something involving palm branches hidden in Easter eggs. Others in our congregation brought friends and family and food. I, jetlagged from a redeye flight and reeling from the four hour AK-OH time-zone gap, was tasked with printing and bringing the song sheets.

When my cell phone rang on my nightstand at 9:15 Sunday morning, my first thought was, “There’s no way I can fix this.” Those were also my first words to the person on the other end of the line, who turned out to be Scott. Ken couldn’t come to the phone, because he was too busy standing up front with his guitar strapped on his shoulder.

The meeting had started, and Christ has risen, but I was still abed.

The irony is not lost on me.

We don’t have songbooks, or hymnals, or any kind of projector yet. Each week, we print the lyrics on a sheet of paper and make a copy (more or less) for everyone. Unless Ken wants to lead us in some kind of worship solo performance, we need those song sheets.

My one job, the “bye” job, had disrupted the whole flow of the morning.

“No problem,” said Scott, his voice an octave higher than normal, “we’ll just sing at the end. Come as quick as you can.”

I threw on some clothes (definitely not on the high end of presentable), battled my printer and rushed out the door. The trip from my house to the community center where we meet takes about 2.5 minutes. Unless you catch the one red light. Then it takes about 15.

Ken was waiting as I pulled into the parking lot. I could see the whites of his eyes. He traded me his six-month old for the sheaf of songs and rushed into the building, just as Scott was wrapping up an uncharacteristically prompt sermon.

I was unshowered, bleary-eyed, and embarrassed. Easter service! It’s supposed to go smoothly! I’m supposed to look pretty! Everything was out of whack this year.

The whole church was nice about it, although I did get some deserved mockage. Ultimately, the blame was placed squarely on my jetlag.

Sweet, sweet, scapegoat jetlag. What do you have against Easter?

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