The blog title might give you cause to think that you will be hearing – again – about the pastor transition/search at River Road. No, I am still on my soapbox from my previous blog about the seasons of the church and how those “changing times” can have a positive effect on our relationship with a truly wonderful church (and Church). Right now, I am thinking about the “before and after” of Easter – at least in the northern hemisphere. Before Easter – cold and unpleasant weather, bare brown tree branches, slippery roads, somewhat unexpected school closings, sun shining sideways from the horizon. After Easter: warm breezes, flowers blooming, buds on trees, better driving conditions, spring break at public schools (highly anticipated and planned), sun resting overhead, increased daylight hours.
How about the church calendar and the transition it represents? Before Easter: Lent – a period of discernment (self and otherwise), asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness, the Hosannas of a wondrous Palm Sunday procession leading towards betrayal and the cross. After Easter: a tomb that goes empty, a doubting Thomas who comes to believe, a roomful of disciples who now recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread in Emmaus.
On Easter Day, many of you heard Handel’s famous “Hallelujah Chorus” sung and played by the Chancel Choir, brass quintet, and timpani. This Sunday, Easter will continue at River Road with the singing of the “Hallelujah” from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabeus. On April 10, our anthem is entitled “An Endless Alleluia.” The week after that, the Chancel and Youth Choirs will sing a beautiful and inspiring setting of Psalm 23, and we will celebrate River Road’s 70th anniversary following the Good Shepherd and leading others towards faith – a cause for rejoicing. And on April 24th, our exceptional River Road Youth will lead you in worship. And then – well, I have probably made my point – our corporate worship of God has a goes on steadily and unceasingly. Good reasons to come to church, even after the thrill of Easter.
One thing you did not hear this past Sunday was the traditional quip about how the church was going to be open again for the Sunday(s) after Easter! I have heard those little “digs” about attendance couched in many forms during the course of some forty odd years playing or singing for Easter services – in some ways, I missed the nervous laughter that always results from that mild prodding from the clergy. This year, though, it’s my turn for some Easter humor. If you felt cheated by not exiting to the energetic Toccata from Charles-Marie Widor’s Fifth Organ Symphony on Easter, you will have your chance this Sunday, when I will play it for the closing voluntary. Even though every Sunday might be considered a “little Easter,” this Sunday might be a little more so. Let’s make Easter of 2016 a time of transition towards becoming steadier and more regular attenders of our morning worship service. And may that time of worship bring goodness and joy to your life and the lives of others. Hallelujah, Amen!