Monday, April 9, 2007

What I Learned from a Liturgical Easter

We celebrated Easter this Sunday in a liturgical setting. The kids and I didn't make it to the early service (with the flowering of the cross), but the later service was just as beautiful and symbolic. We walked in to the sanctuary and the altar was transformed. During Lent, there had been no flowers and the cross on the altar and the ones used in procession were covered. Easter Sunday, the altar was bedecked with beautiful flowers and the crosses were unveiled. Symbolically, the death and resurrection were displayed on the altar, in the colors, and in the liturgy of Lent and Easter.

During the service, as the acolytes processed, the first cross was adorned with a crown of thorns interwoven with roses. The second cross bore Easter lilies. The crown of thorns had been used during the Maundy Thursday service, during which the priest scrubbed the altar clean and placed the crown, all alone, on the altar. It stayed there through Good Friday and Saturday, until Easter. The symbolism of all this is so powerful--death in the crown of thorns, hope in the blood-colored roses, and joy in the Easter lilies.

We sang celebrative songs, and the sermon reminded us that, while the resurrection certainly exemplifies God's power, more importantly it exemplifies God's love--love is what caused Jesus to rise from the dead.

There's nothing more incredible than celebrating the Eucharist on Easter Sunday--what joy it represents! Since for me the past several months (since September 2006) have been an awakening, the celebration of the season of rebirth and new life has been especially meaningful.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Easter Eve

Okay, so it's Easter Eve, and I'm up sitting in front of my lap top. I've done the Easter Bunny thing, about which I'm guiltily ambivalent, feeling like I've cowed to culture, but at the same time wanting to make childhood really fun for my kids. Of course I know Easter's not about a dumb bunny, but there's something incredibly magical about waking up and finding Dove chocolate eggs all over the house and discovering an Easter basket with some goodies in it. My mom always made it special for me, so I figure I need to carry on the tradition. I'll never forget the Easter after I became a Christian, when Mom put a real leather NIV New Testament (and Psalms and Proverbs) in my basket. It was extra sweet of her, since I'd been lambasting her with threats of going to hell if she didn't know Jesus. The fact that she acknowledged my Christianity in this way was a tender act by a mother too loving to be offended by her over-zealous daughter.

Tomorrow my kids will experience Easter for the first time in a liturgical setting. I bought them some flowers so they can participate in the flowering of the cross tradition. They've been noticing how different church is during Lent--how somber, how symbolic, how incredibly moving. Tomorrow, they'll sense the excitement of resurrection, of hope, of joy. And so will I, since this year I rediscovered joy in worship.

Initial Post

This is my first post, and I'm just trying things out for now. My plan is to include ideas about teaching religion at the university level, vegetarianism, animal theology, and my current spiritual journey. My sabbatical is coming up in the fall, so I'm hoping that will be integral to my blog, as I will be concentrating on my current interests in animal theology.