Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doing Nothing Special for Easter

As I prepare to transition out of my little congregation, and it tries to figure out what the next stage of it's life will look like, certain things in the life of the church are notably and visibly changing.  As the last of the old stalwarts begin to detach themselves from the congregation they've attended for decades, attendance has dipped a bit.  The transition over to a wholly Christian Contemporary style means that the old beloved hymns are just no longer sung, and the old prayers aren't being said, and the fellowship life is young and mostly monogenerational.  There is no place for the old guard in the life of the new church, something that in moments of unpastorly irritation makes me think of the new church in the same way I think of that boy in Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree."

But then I remember, shoot, this is what folks wanted.  They were exhausted.  They were ready to move on.  It was what they hoped for and needed.  So I smack down that grumpy little meme.

Still, with things in this in-between place, and the relationship with the dying 1.0 Korean church functionally nonexistent, Easter this year will be different. 

In previous years, in fact, every year, Easter worship has been a Big Deal.  But the church is, now, just a seed of what will come.  So there'll be no riotous multilingual smorgasbord of skits and songs and choirs and bell choirs.  There simply aren't enough people.  There will be no lilies, or bright white on the parament, because the folks who are here now really couldn't care less about those things.  No-one even knows what a parament is...which is fine, because honestly, I'm not sure Jesus would have known if you asked him.

For this Sunday, what we're doing liturgically is pretty much exactly what we do every Sunday.

There will be some difference, of course.  The music will be Easter-themed.  The sermon will focus on resurrection.  There will be a scaled-back Easter egg hunt for the handful of little ones, because not to do that would be such a serious bummer.  There will be a potluck.  More folks will be wearing ties.

But it's not going to be a particularly unusual day in the worship life of the church.  And perhaps, as the former moderator of the PCUSA recently suggested on his blog, this might not be a bad thing.   Perhaps having folks show up, and telling them, you know...this is what we do every week...well, it might not be a bad thing. Why raise people's expectations?

Then again, I like the extra effort that goes into the special events in the life of the church.  I like the festivals.  There is a spiritual point, I think, in marking certain days as more significant, and in cranking up the rejoicing a notch.

Which is why there's one more thing we're doing this Sunday, oh, about 15 minutes from now. 

It could happen any day of the year, but we're doing it today.  A half-dozen new members are joining, all young, making their commitment and profession of faith before the church.  There's not a bunch of hoopla.  Just hope, and the promise of new life and new gifts and new things in the ministry.

So I guess we are doing something special.  It's hard not to, on a day like today.