I called them the “Easter-only crowd.”
They were the people who come to services on only the highest of holidays, get the best music, wear the best clothes, see the best flowers, take up the best seats in the crowded sanctuary, only to abandon the rest of us to pick up the heat bills, custodial service and high comic drama of church administration.
I used to call them the “Easter-only crowd,” but I have changed.
Even I, who has never missed an Easter Sunday in 65 years, have no way to explain the “resurrection of the body.” When the organ pumps out “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” I mostly like the organ and the ascending alleluias. They raise me.
If we also do the Palestrina, its paced alleluia assures me that the strife is over, the battle won. The Passover of gladness has arrived. I don’t want to tell you how little I truly believe about the songs that I truly sing.
Now with more respect, I call the “Easter-only crowd” the “Easter-maybe crowd.”
We sing that death has lost its sting and we support our song with lilies and other props to help ourselves believe what is clearly either not true or only mysteriously so. We imagine that we are going to be brought safely through Jordan, and in imagination, possibility rises.
Are we regulars really strangers to the “Easter-maybe crowd”?
No, we are all toe dippers in a mystery called the sting of death. The true outsider on Easter morn is me. I stand at the stoned-close grave and knock. I stand there with all the others who hope it is true. In our hoping, we make it true.
Ever-rising God, raise our hope in gladness. Let us use props if need be. Amen
[Donna Schaper is a United Church of Christ minister and a contributor to NCR's Eco Catholic blog.]