I've always had busy and hectic Easter Sundays. My church has a big retreat on that weekend, every year. My family's been going to it every since since my parents were children themselves. As a result of always being at this particular camp, Easter was never chocolate eggs and Easter egg hunts. Well, not entirely. (There'd always be a chocolate Easter bunny from some grandparent-type, and when I got old enough to stay in dorms away from my parents, the mothers who supervised the dorms always gave us Easter candy on the Sunday morning.) But, for me, Easter always meant tons and tons of people, two church services a day, and singing all weekend. There was the sense of routine: someone always talked about the crucifixion on Good Friday. On Easter Sunday, we always would have a lively service, singing songs about the Resurrection, and hitting the high notes. ("And He wears the victor's croooooooOOOOOOOOOOOWN!")
One year, I couldn't get the weekend off of work. Faced with spending the weekend without my family (and with an entire church that was travelling away from me for the weekend, and hence no Easter Sunday service at my own church), I organized an Easter potluck among my University friends. We all attended the Easter Sunday services at one of the city's large churches. They pulled out all the stops, with singing and drama. I wore my springiest dress, played hostess, and had an Easter egg hunt through my house.
Every year, my Easter Sunday has been spent with hoards of people. I've eaten a lot, I've sung loudly, I've let it all sweep over me. And, somehow, that always made Easter Sunday feel special. It had a sort of epic feel, every year.
This year, I'm here. Many of the younger ones made the trek out to that same church retreat, but we couldn't go. We still had an Easter Sunday service here, with all the seniors who don't really venture too far off the Island anymore. There we were, in that little rented hall: Chris, me, his parents, and a handful of seniors. We didn't have anyone there who could play piano. They asked me to start the songs, so that we could stay on tune. I still wore my Easter Sunday dress (a dress from the early '60s, that's white with little blue embroidered bows and a big puffy skirt), and I still sang loudly.
I didn't get my big Sunday dinner (the in-laws had to fly out in the early afternoon), nor did I get my hoards of people, but I was still moved. My heart was still stirred. I was still overwhelmed by the idea of God coming to earth as a man, dying for my sins, and then rising again on the third day, conquering death and sin. In fact, I think today was more meaningful than a lot of those other ones, because I had to face square-on the fact that this isn't a day about other people, or about the food, or the singing, or the chocolate. (Although all of those are good things.) I gathered with God's people, even if they were few in number and sometimes a little feeble in body. We all participated with our whole hearts, and we were all stirred.
And I celebrated, without all that extra that usually distracts me from the One I'm celebrating.
(That said, it would be nice if I could make it out to the retreat next year.)