Well, Easter 2014 has past and for my household it was in most ways just like any other week. The Sunday service at church took several hours of extra preparation to get the music right, get everyone dressed in special clothes, and to prepare a lot of food for an elaborate late lunch. The scripture readings and prayers I do with the kids in the evening were varied and a bit richer than usual in the days leading up to it. So that’s all good, but compared to some other Christian traditions, we barely made a dent in Holy Week.
Last night, I talked to a good friend of mine who is a traditionalist Roman Catholic. They do things up right – special services nearly every day of the week, and a 3.5 hour easter vigil with only candles. Then suddenly at midnight on Easter Morning all the lights are thrown on in the church and all the images and artwork and colors – covered and drab through all of lent, are cast off and the Gloria (conspicuously missing during the past 40 days) is loudly sung again. He described how excited his young daughter was when the lights came on that she squeeled with delight. Then everyone began singing. What does this communicate to those present – especially the children? What really matters. What is the most important and incredible thing we do or talk about or celebrate all year? No question: Christ rising from the dead to save us.
The modern evangelical church in the west (of which I am a part) is allergic to pomp and circumstance (loud music and lights excepted). The reason behind this is not at all without merit: overdone ceremony can indeed be a distraction from the Gospel, just as preaching that over-emphasizes the law can also be detrimental. I propose that perhaps an exception should be made for Easter though. Why exactly do we keep it toned down so much that it’s presence is barely a registered spike on the spiritual rhythm of our lives? If you’re going to take a risk and go a bit overboard about something, I can’t think of a better event than the Resurrection. The contrast from the usual low-church activities would make the celebration stand out even more. Can we not do this?