They show that iPod shuffle commercial a lot during basketball games. You know, the one that starts out, “Life is random?” This weekend, several of us agreed – if we wanted to listen to songs in random order, we’d just listen to the radio. We decided that Sony Walkman should have a commercial just like that – “Existence is in no particular order. Get a Sony Walkman and listen to the radio.” hehe.
Church yesterday . . . well, it stunk. We weren’t at our church, so I kind of hate to trash someone else’s church, but the people we were with weren’t pleased either, so I feel like it’s okay to say that. Easter is exciting. There’s the anticipation – the buildup of Lent, culminating in Holy Week and its services. There’s the new clothes – the rustle of spring dresses that it’s not quite warm enough for, and yet we wear them anyway, because part of celebrating is putting on our finest. There’s the sugar rush from eating candy before church. There’s family and friends and flowers and the church is packed (Mike’s least favorite thing about Easter, actually. You know you’re a Baptist when you hate it when someone’s sitting in your row). There’s “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and “Low in the Grave He Lay,” which take me back to Easters of my childhood, and sitting in the pew next to Grandpa, hearing his deep voice chime in on cue. And there’s joy. Easter is the cornerstone of our faith, and we celebrate it because we actually believe these things that maybe don’t make sense on paper, but that we know in our hearts are true. That’s exciting! It’s exciting that we believe these things, and that we can come together to celebrate them. It’s amazing that they are true, and it’s even more amazing to think about what they mean for us!
The sermon yesterday missed all that. The 20-minute introduction to the sermon about why you have to believe the resurrection is literally true. But, see, the thing is, I already believe that. I was there to celebrate it, not hear a lecture about it. During the other 20 minutes of the sermon, I pretty much tuned out, but all I remember are digs at Presbyterians and Episcopalians. Which, in my mind, is not so cool. Every denomination makes mistakes, and one bad church/pastor does not a bad denomination make.
During the sermon, my friend leaned over and said, “I hate it when people try too hard on holidays.” At first I didn’t agree that that’s what was going on . . . if this was his way of trying to reach out to visitors/non-Christians, he was doing a pretty sucky job of it. But then I realized she was right – the pastor had gotten so worried that this was his one chance to reach out to people that might not normally go to church that he freaked out and missed the entire point. I don’t think church services should be geared towards unbelievers, especially on holidays. Holidays are a time for the church to celebrate, and if our celebration is authentic, I personally believe that is going to say a whole lot more to visitors than any 20-minute lecture on a literal resurrection. I hate that the pastor was so worried about defending Jesus’ resurrection that he forgot to be excited about it.
I love Easter, so it was sad that yesterday’s service was such a downer. I felt like it took all the wind out of my sails yesterday morning, and it apparently started my week off on the wrong foot. Today I’m in a funk, and my car is doing weird things, and I just want a do-over. I want to be able to be at my church for Easter, with the hymns and the organ and the flowering cross. And the celebration of what it means to believe these mysteries of a manger, a cross, and an empty tomb.