By Bill Mefford
This is Holy Week and I know for so many pastors this is the busiest week of the year for obvious reasons. One obvious reason is that this is one of two Sundays of the year when attendance at church services booms (the other Sunday being before Christmas). Easter is also the time when people "put on their Sunday best" which never made sense to me and quite frankly, still doesn't. But this is the high point of the Christian year - the Sunday when the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, his victory over the power of sin and death was made real.
Yet, for me at least, it has always been my least favorite Sunday and since no longer serving in a local church, it is the Sunday I try and skip.
As of the last year or so, me skipping church will be nothing out of the norm as I have taken a break from attending organized church services. But my family has been looking to be a part of a local community again. However, we are waiting until after Easter. Why? There actually is not one reason but as I shared earlier, I have never been one to favor dressing up for a Savior who was born in a barn, was naked when he was tortured to death, and lived among the poor the rest of his life. Dressing up just seems amiss. I also always figured there was always something more important to worry about than what I was wearing. And being around other people dressed up just felt disingenuous.
Another stupid reason I usually end up skipping Easter services is that I always hated people walking around saying "He is risen" to one another. It just didn't make sense to me. Don't we already know he was risen? Didn't we read this at the end of the gospels, like years ago? I know it is silly, but it irked me that I had to act like I was surprised or even excited when I heard that. I always imagined acting like I had never heard it before when someone told me, "He is risen" and then to start ranting about how I could have sworn he was dead; that this was the first time anyone had told me, and then I would run out of the church promising I had to tell the world. Yeah, I never did that, but I wish someone would. That would be funny.
There are so many things a smart-ass can do at Easter.
But I never did any of them. I went through with everyone's rituals, remembering they weren't for me anyway. That the church does not exist for my own comfort or enjoyment.
But there is one thing I will miss this Easter. I actually have missed it for the last year I have taken a break from church. And that is participating in the Lord's Supper.
That is the one aspect of worship that I indeed miss; that I for sure cannot simulate on my own. I don't miss all of the words - you know, the liturgy. I just miss kneeling at the alter (or wherever it is served), having the words spoken, "the Body of Christ broken for you" as I take the bread, and "the blood of Christ shed for you" as I take the cup. Its the physical remembrance of a spiritual and historical truth: the sacrificial love of Jesus for the entire world.
Even as I write these words, I can remember the holiest of moments when,. kneeling in the silence and holiest of moments, I am reminded of my dependence on God and God's body. Communion is the connector between me and the entire Body of Christ. Communion reminds me who I am, who I belong to (God of course, but the whole world as well), who I serve (same as previously mentioned), who I am called to love, and where I am going. Communion centers me, gives me hope, nourishes me spiritually, and reminds me both that God is indeed sovereign and yet is actively engaged in caring for every living creature on the planet.
I will still skip this Sunday, but I will miss the Lord's Supper. But save a space for me because I will be back soon. I will be the one rolling my eyes when you feign excitement for the obvious while wearing your "Sunday best."