Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Response to "Easter Shouldn't be a Big Deal"

I read a blog the other day that said we shouldn't make a big deal about Easter. When I read the first line or so I was very disturbed because if not for Easter what would be the point? We wouldn't have a resurrection to build our faith around. We would have lots of excellent teachings to live by but . . .

Then I read the rest of the blog. And I got the point. The blogger was talking about the whole visitor thing. It seems that some churches get a whole bunch of Christmas and Easter visitors.

Some of those visitors don't know what to expect in church and get lost during the program, which is apparently funny to some. It further seems that members and even (gasp) preachers at those churches can be somewhat unfriendly about the whole Christmas and Easter thing. They say things like "Nice to see you here for a change,' which is not a comment geared to bring the visitor back next Sunday or even next Easter.

In some congregations the service is totally unlike what a visitor is likely to find if they come on any other Sunday during the year. There are processions and plays and full orchestras. The folks who normally show up in jeans are in dresses and suits. The clergy are wearing their best vestments. Visitors may get lost in the shuffle or embarrassed by being made to stand up and introduce themselves.

And some congregations have LOTS of opportunities to attend services on Easter. They have a special sunrise service and their regular morning service or two and maybe a special afternoon or evening service. I know this because the religious page in our local newspaper expands from 1 page to 3!

We don't get a lot of visitors at Easter. We might have a few, but usually what we experience is that everyone who ever shows up during the year is pretty sure to show up on Easter. Some of our folks are once a month church folks and some are once every couple of months church folks. But on Easter everybody is here. We don't have any extra Easter Sunday services, just have our regular 10:30 a.m. service. Some years we have our choir concert on Palm Sunday and some years we have it on Easter. The same people who are always in the choir are in the choir. We always have an egg hunt after church and the kids find all the eggs so quickly that I have yet to watch the hunt happening.

But I have to confess that when visitors come we do make them sign our visitor book and then stand up or at least sit and wave at the congregation when they are introduced. We warn them that this is going to happen, and I always make sure to invite them publicly for our after worship fellowship time. But then, we do that every Sunday to whatever visitors show up. It's not to embarrass them, it's to make them feel welcome. It's to help the rest of the folks remember they are visitors so they can help if the new folks seem to be lost at any point during the service.

I especially love the Lord's Supper when we have visitors. Because when we have visitors I get to explain again why Disciples share this meal every Sunday and that everyone is welcome to partake. I get to give directions on how we do communion here so that no one has to feel left out.

So - is Easter a big deal at our church? Absolutely! Even though we do things pretty much the same way at Easter as every other week, there's a good theological reason for that. You see, once upon a time somebody told me that we celebrate Easter EVERY Sunday and so every Sunday is a big deal.

Happy Easter y'all.

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