Sunday, April 11, 2004

Our triumphant, holy day 

And so the sun has set on another Easter Sunday. My brain is fading fast, but I had quite a good day and wanted to write while it was relatively fresh. Well, actually, overall it was a good day, but getting up was painful, as it is most Sunday mornings. I worked overtime yesterday and was there past midnight. So my first semi-coherent thought today was that Jesus was very considerate, letting the disciples sleep in on that first Easter day and not appearing to them until evening. Of course then I realized, as I shuffled off to the bathtub, that Jesus Himself got up quite early that Easter morn and He is the one we Christians are supposed to be emulating. Oh, well. If I really wanted evening church I would have transferred to another congregation years ago.

Our church service was enjoyable. It was bilingual--English and Cantonese--as has become the custom. Some of the Chinese folks sat right behind us, so I had Cantonese right in my ear, so to speak. It was amusing as we started to sing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" in the English-Cantonese cacophany, only to become united when we sang the Hebrew "alleluia". 'Twas truly a festive event. Old friends and new faces showed up to worship with us ol' regulars. Lots of folks were decked out in their Easter finery (I even wore a tie!) and the kids were running amok as they burned off their sugar high. Truly a good church day.

Of course, the real reason--the real joy--was the event we were commemorating in the first place. The Lent and Easter season is really the spiritual high point of the year for me. There's lots of reasons, I suppose, but I think the one that really grabs hold of my heart is the story. Jesus suffering and dying and then coming back to life again in victory. When I focus on the story, as we do in Lent, I can't help but get caught up in it. I burn with shame along with Peter as he chickens out, I empathize with Pilate as he vainly tries to choose between being honest or avaoiding the consequences, I mourn with Jesus' friends as they watch Him suffer and die. And then my joy reawakens with Salome, Cleopas, Thomas and a cast of Marys as they all puzzle over an empty tomb and encounter the risen Jesus. That's why I have yet to go see The Passion--I've replayed the story in my mind year after year. Can Hollywood special effects and acting even compare?