There are few times during the year that I actually miss my traditional, liturgical upbringing. Easter is one of those times, though.
It’s possible that the Evangelical movement in America has strayed too far from it’s roots. In it’s desire to run away from the “stodgy” and “dead” liturgies of mainline Protestant and Catholic churches, perhaps we have lost sight of why those liturgies existed in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t miss – for a second – the endless routines of sit, stand, kneel and reciting the same prayers, responses and creeds week after week without a thought being given to the meaning behind them. I think the current worship environment I am in – a Spirit-filled, worship-driven, -Bible-believing church, is better in every measurable way. I’ve discovered more about God, myself and others in eight years as an evangelical than I did in thirty-three years of Catholicism.
But… yes, there’s a “but” in there. There is one thing that we are missing. And that is the awe, the majesty, the pure wonder of God and his relationship to us. We’ve crafted out a familiar God, a “Jesus is my friend” kind of a God, and that’s okay. But God should also inspire a sense of “awestruck” in us, and sadly, that’s something that can be missing from many modern worship services, even on that holiest of holidays, Easter.
Catholic Easter begins on Saturday. (OK, technically, it begins on Ash Wednesday, but I’m talking actual Easter here.) I remember with fondness the Easter Vigil service. The darkened church; the bonfire outside; the Paschal Candle. Each of us holding our candles, the light slowly spreading from the back of the church to the front. There was a sense of wonder and reverence to the whole deal.
And Easter Sunday morning! If the Vigil was solemnity itself, Sunday morning was pure joy. The sun always seemed to be shining in the stained-glass windows. There were flowers and colors and light and soaring hymns. People dressed to the nines in their Easter best. The Easter Sunday mass was so different from every other Sunday, that it really stood out, and really brought in a sense of what it was all about. You heard the Kyrie and the Alleluia for the first time in forty days, and realized that something had been missing, and now it was back!
I’m not advocating dropping what we all do and running back to the Mother Church – far from it. But in this Easter season, I pray you find time to reflect on the awesome wonder that is the Resurrection. And try to bring some of that into your services.