Holy week and Easter
Sunday has become a special time at our church. It is the week that we mark the death and resurrection of Jesus - the celebration of the assurance that God loves us and that what is beautiful, good, right, and true will have the final word in this world.
Our lenten season begins drawing to an end with the beginning of Holy Week on Palm Sunday - the Sunday before Easter. This is a bright moment in the somberness of Lent as the church is filled with children (and adults) running around with palm branches - given out to commemorate Jesus celebrated entry into Jerusalem.
On Thursday night we will gather together again and our friend Adam will lead people in a Passover Seder meal on the same night that tradition holds Jesus shared his last Passover Seder meal with his disciples and gave this already-ancient ritual new meaning.On Good Friday, from 7am to 7pm, we open the church to the community and set up self-guided prayer and meditation stations. Throughout the day adults and children filter in and out in silence, making space in their lives and in their hearts to remember and be present with the one who gave up his life for us that day. During the last thirty minutes of the day all the lights are shut off, the curtains drawn, and the candles blown out as we mark in a silent vigil the death of Jesus.
In the Dean house, from Friday night until Easter morning we continue to mark the time that Jesus was in the grave by leaving all the lights off in the house and everything else that makes noise (music, cartoons, etc.) as well. We live in darkness or by candlelight until Easter morning. This creates a longing in all of us for the light and joy of Easter. At one point last year our son Oliver even said, "Mommy, can we play Easter now?"
On Easter morning, when the kids wake up we say, "Do you know what today is?" Last year, Oliver's sleepy face lit up like a light and he said, "It's Easter Morning!" Over the next fifteen minutes we rush from room to room, turning on lights and exclaiming "It's Easter Morning! Jesus is Alive!" We play music, dance and celebrate before Dad rushes back to church to finish Sunday morning preparations.
Easter morning service at Edgewood Church has become something of a ritual that we work to perfect every year. The sanctuary is still shrouded in darkness, curtains drawn, lights out, and instrumental music plays as people arrive. People are invited to enter in a prayerful silence as we wait for two women to make their way to the tomb.As the service begins, a light over the "podium" fades on as two women approach and begin reading a scriptural compilation of Jesus' life and ministry, flowing into the story of the two women who walk to the tomb on Easter morning. When the two women in the story reach the tomb and an angel suddenly appears before them, all the lights are thrown on in the room, the curtains are pulled back, and the background music picks up in tempo (unrecognizable as "Oh Happy Day" until now). A few sentences later, as the reading ends, the whole church launches into singing "Oh Happy Day." In that moment, Easter has begun at Edgewood Church.