Christ has risen indeed, hallelujah! It has been a blessed first Easter at St. Paul’s International for Young, Lincoln & I. We began on Palm/Passion Sunday, a Contemporary service that saw me attempting some dramatic reading as a local citizen on the streets from the time of Jesus' arrest. I concluded with these remarks:
“How did we go from the parade of palms to this – streets littered with the stones thrown at the poor man, already so weak from a beating that he kept falling down? What has gotten into people? Are we such herd animals that all we need is a little nudge, a little scandal, or a suggestion of a scandal and we tear people down? We human beings are capable of such beauty, such creativity, such courage and compassion, and yet, when we are frightened or disappointed, or feel powerless, we are capable of such violence and unspeakable horror. Did they fear Jesus and his radical call to peace through justice rather than power? Are we so afraid of justice? Are we so afraid of unconditional love?”
From there we delved deeper into despair, as we entered Maundy Thursday. A communal service that took place at North Portal, with bread and soup, followed by a candlelit service done by Emily Gillies, Jim Pratt and myself. If the questions at the end of the Palm/Passion service left us wondering, this one continued with that vein. We left in silence and darkness, after hearing the story of the Last Supper and Gethsemane.
Good Friday saw our church try something new. Accepting an invitation to be a part of the worship taking part at the Church of God, we jumped into unfamiliar waters and embraced the Spirit of Christ. I was asked to lead the Prayers, and it was a little nerve wracking for me! Young could tell you how nervous I was to go up there, it was packed!
A few days went by, and a good friend posted how nice it was to hear ‘Liturgical Prayers’ for a change. I realized at that moment that the norm was to do the prayers of blessing, healing and power, not liturgy based prayers. I had no idea! I am glad we could bring a little ‘United’ into their service though, and that it went over well. 😊
Here is an excerpt of the Prayers from Good Friday;
“Oh, that change God, so powerful! Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign; a commonwealth not of domination but of peace, justice and reconciliation. He healed the sick and fed the hungry. He forgave sins and freed those held captive by all manner of methods. He crossed barriers of race, class, culture, and gender. Change is the very nature of your Way, O God, lived by Jesus, led by your Spirit, fed by your grace. May your light ever be our guide as we become ever more your people.“
Next saw us at the Lion’s pavilion across from Hillview for Easter Sunrise service! Growing up in Saskatoon, I attended the Easter Sunrise every year, snow, rain, wind, or shine, it didn’t matter. I knew I wanted to try it in Estevan and see how it went. The Anglican church and Trinity Lutheran also agreed to join, and we had a wonderful (albeit cold) morning service outside! I thank all those that came out, and for giving such positive feedback. I’ll see you next year!
Trinity invited everyone over to their church for a breakfast to follow, but I grabbed a plate and bolted down to North Portal for Easter Worship… and followed that up with Worship at St. Paul’s in Estevan. Thus concluded the whirlwind of a week filled with Holy moments, with prayer, with joy, and with tears. To, at the end of it all, stand in front of familiar faces, in familiar spaces, hear the story of Easter, and take part in communion, meant everything. It was a sigh, one of comfort and acceptance. There is something special about leading Easter in a church, it is, above even Christmas, where the tedium in preparation, makes itself seen and experienced in so many different ways. To be a minister leading a church through Easter, means you are here, you are a part of this community, you’ve taken the polar bear plunge, there is no where to go but forward.
I concluded my sermon that morning by saying ‘Christ is ahead of us, blazing a path into the future, and our duty is just to follow, to not be afraid and to follow.’ We now continue along that path, together. Amen.