Faithful Living: Be open to finding more than just eggs this Easter

By Joan Bay Klope

“Grab your lunch — we’ve got 15 minutes to get over there for the concert!” my coworker commented as she peeked over the padded wall that divided her cubicle from mine.

It was Good Friday, many years ago now. We were both twenty-something newlyweds, recent college graduates working our first grown-up jobs at a Christian publishing house. Our friend Tim — a colorful and fantastically talented musician with a rare gift for playing the pipe organ, of all instruments— was scheduled to play a noon-time concert at our nearby church.

As we hurried uptown we talked about our friend’s unique sense of humor and how he enjoyed slipping Walt Disney choruses into his Sunday morning preludes, played as congregants seated themselves before each worship service began. So skillful was he that only the most intent of listeners would catch the inserted melodies and how delighted he was when we rushed to his side to have him verify our suspicions once the service was over.

As we entered the sanctuary we knew immediately that there would be no playful notes from “It’s a Small World” slipped into the music that afternoon. Surrounding us was nearly total darkness. A lighted candelabrum on the organ and strands of sunshine filtering through stained glass windows shed enough light for us to find our way into a nearby pew, but barely.

At noon sharp Tim seated himself at the organ and provided us with a musical experience that told the entire crucifixion story. There was no choir. No light. No singing. But there was Tim and his organ, interpreting the experiences of Christ as He faced death on a cross.

At moments I leaned forward and strained to hear the notes. Other moments the powerful pipes produced sound so jarring and terrifying it brought me to tears. After 30 minutes the concert came to an abrupt end. Tim stood up from the bench, blew out the candles, and silently walked out of the sanctuary — leaving us there in the dark, exhausted and stunned.

I thought back on that remarkable experience yesterday as I reflected on the first Good Friday, 2008 years ago, when Jesus Christ hung for hours before suffocating to death on a quickly fashioned wooden cross. Next to two thieves. Above a small crowd of family and followers and mockers.

Thanks to Tim’s incredible ability to interpret music, for a few precious moments each year I am able to imagine that I am standing in front of that cross, watching Christ’s limp body. To feel nothing but exhausted. Stunned. Utterly hopeless. Utterly powerless.

This is my favorite church holiday. It begins with the playfulness of Palm Sunday, last week, when Christians around the world grabbed palm branches and recalled Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem atop a donkey. On Thursday of this week we considered how the power and terror of the Roman government caused people to abandon Christ when it became apparent that He was a wanted man. Then yesterday I considered the agony and sacrifice Christ made.

Tomorrow the most blessed of all Sundays will arrive — morning will dawn and the joy will begin! Even though my children are young adults, I will fill Easter baskets with their traditional favorite candies and we will dye eggs together. It is these kinds of activities that promote family unity.

These trappings of spring will take a back seat to the events available at church. For it is there, among other believers, that we can discard like a cold and soggy jacket the sorrow of death. There will be light and lilies, smiles and music and celebration. There will also be joy because we believe that Christ came back to life.

Death lost its grip on Him and us. Christ’s divinity plays out before our eyes.

Tomorrow is the perfect time to venture into church if you have been secretly wondering what it is that so many will experience this Easter. You will not stand out if you are a visitor. You may see and hear things new to you, but you will also observe the joy that only an experience with Christ can produce.

You will see people united by their faith and family affiliation. As a Christian community we welcome you. There is so much to celebrate and it will be even more joyous with you sitting nearby.

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