If I could only go back in time..

by Oak Hill Studio

…and experience Easter at the church of my childhood, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Easter incorporated Maundy Thursday.  It is hard to decide which service had the greater impact on me; Maundy Thursday or Easter Sunday.  Probably it was the combination of the two.  The juxtaposition of darkness and light, of deep sorrow and great joy is what stands out in my mind.

The Maundy Thursday service consisted of a walk through the scripture narrative beginning with the events following the upper room discourse.  The entirety of the service consisted of scripture, related hymns, and choir refrains.  As Jesus made His way to the Garden of Gethsemane, it felt like I was walking right alongside Him and the disciples.  One would have to be dull indeed to miss the full sense of sorrow and frustration as Jesus was betrayed into the hands of His enemies–this Man who  exuded love, compassion, and meekness in the face of anger, hatred, and mocking, venomous sneers.  After each segment, the lights would be dimmed,  until finally, the darkness and silence engulfed the sanctuary.  Such quiet and darkness, I have never experienced in church since.  Then, ever so faintly, with growing intensity, the haunting and beautiful voice of one from the choir loft filled the air, and it felt like I was sitting on the Mt. of Olives, witnessing the most cruel deed the world has ever known.   Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  …

When the song ended, the lights turned on very low and we all filed silently out, the haunting song echoing in our heads.  We were left to ponder the events and taste a bit of what it must have been like for the disciples as they wandered off to their homes, dazed, heart-broken, and filled with sorrow.

But, come Sunday morning, bright sunlight streamed through stained glass windows to rest upon a row of white lilies, their pots trimmed in green foil and purple ribbons, lining the front of the church.  There was a definite sense of excitement as everyone filed in in their Sunday best.  All the stops were pulled out as Mom played the pipe organ, its jubilant music filling the church.  This was a time of great rejoicing!  The grave COULD NOT hold Him.  He conquered death and gave the world HOPE!  The darkness was overcome by the Light of the World, Jesus.

My favorite Easter song was sung every year.  It echoes in my mind still.  Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia! Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!