Somewhere back in the mists of time these days before Easter were jam packed with command performances of worship liturgies; eight or even nine of them from Palm/Passion Sunday through Easter Day. In the sacramental traditions of the Christian Church, this is Holy Week, but in all my years of working in church land, these days were anything but holy. For clergy and support staff, choirs, and altar guilds, the week is a marathon, sometimes an unholy circus, of bulletin printing, chancel colour changes, rehearsals, and homilies. It's an annual organizational nightmare just in the preparation.
It's also a week when life outside the doors of the church carried on as usual. Accidents, illnesses, personal crises, and death were constant companions, each one needing pastoral care and compassion.
The worship services never quite went according to plan: something broke, something was forgotten. someone, a key liturgical assistant perhaps, didn't show up ("Sorry pastor - we decided to go to the cottage for the long weekend."). Sometimes the weather competed with the rituals - torrential rain put a damper on the new fire, or gusty winds caused the fire to roar with flames that threatened to set the pastor on fire, then later blew out the light of Christ.
But Easter morning always arrived right on schedule. There is nothing quite like being the first person to open the doors of a lily-filled church at 7:15 Easter morning. What begins as a strong but pleasant announcement of floral decorations, in less than a minute balloons into a dizzying, nose-hair twitching, throat-gagging stink bomb.
How did I manage both my family celebrations, with all the trimmings - dying eggs, hiding eggs, hunting for eggs, and of course the big feast - and the Church? Well I know I had more energy 10 to 20 years ago than I do now, but I also know who got the shortest end of the stick - Me - and the Church got the longest.
Well, that was then. Now I choose to stage a family feast. Way fewer rules equal way more room for love.
My family will gather on Easter Day as we are able, to dine on ham, glazed with sweetened mustard and decorated with pineapple slices and maraschino cherries, scalloped potatoes, dark brown around the edges, and a medley of roasted Spring vegetables. There will be apple pie for dessert, with whipped cream piled on top. And I will find time at some point to meet up with God in the garden and talk about sacrifice, gratitude, and love.
|My late mother, struggling with Alzheimer's,|
decorated this wooden egg in 2002.
This week is really no different than any other week of the year. The sun rises and sets each day, the world turns, people are born, people die, crises come and go, as do blessings and breakthroughs. Life happens. That's really what my holy week is all about - the good, the bad, and the ugly all make an appearance and I celebrate the joy of being alive. I am loved and I love.
The ham is in the house. Spring is in the air. I've got chocolate. And I've got jelly beans!
©2017 April Hoeller