"I feel like I'm missing something very special." ~ Haley Steyer, age 5
We were at church, as we were most Sundays. I was wrangling a horde of small children and doing my best to pay attention to worship. Beckoned by the usher, we made our way to the Communion rail to share in the Meal. Haley watched with eager eyes as Pastor G placed the host in my hand and moved on to her. He placed his hand on her head and blessed her, "Defend and protect, O Lord, this your child and the covenant you made with her in Baptism."
Upon returning to our seats, Haley climbed up in my lap and started sobbing. Upon asking her what was wrong, her tear-filled eyes met mine, "I feel like I'm missing something very special!" I knew then that she was ready to make her first Holy Communion - that her heart knew what her mind couldn't yet wrap around. She felt that this Meal was set apart, sacred, and something special in which to participate.
I was thinking about this as I was figuring out our Easter preparations. So much to do to prepare for Easter, you know! Such a special day - lasagna at Gramma and Papa's house; cheesecake; Easter eggs and Easter egg hunts; chocolate ... and the Resurrection of our Lord - let's not forget about that small detail!
Holy week is special, too, come to think of it. At our church, we get to take time out three days in a row to attend one worship service. It begins on Maundy Thursday with Jesus' "New Commandment" to love one another and a new meaning given to the Passover meal. During evening worship the altar is stripped as the choir sings Psalm 22 and everyone leaves in silence. Worship is not yet over, but life goes on. Worship continues Good Friday with the service of Tenebrae, and the worship room gradually goes from light to dark as a reminder of Jesus' death on a cross for us. Everyone leaves in silence, awaiting the continuation of worship on Saturday night. Easter Vigil worship begins in the darkness of Good Friday and ends in light and celebration that "Christ is Risen! Alleluia!" That special word - Alleluia - returns, having been "put away" for the duration of Lent. Worship concludes.
This special Holy Week worship is a journey in itself. Leaving worship in silence gives you a feeling of being unfinished, unresolved, compelling you to the next service and the next. If I miss one worship service, or all three, I, like Haley and Communion, feel like I'm missing something very special. Resurrection Sunday - Easter - doesn't feel the same if I haven't made the journey to get there through Holy Week worship.
What will be included in your special preparations for Easter?