The Alleluias have returned!
Like a bright, yellow daffodil announcing spring’s arrival, the refrain of Easter is punctuated by a Hebrew word that means, “Praise the Lord”.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
During Lent, we fast from saying that word as a way to give it added meaning and impact when we finally shout it on Easter Day. Set in Easter’s familiar refrain, this ancient word helps proclaim the good news that life and love triumph over death and fear. And this year we needed to hear (and speak) it more than ever.
This is the second Easter of the Covid pandemic. So many lives have been lost and disrupted. So many relationships have been strained and conflicts enflamed. So we needed to shout the hope that God is always making things new, always recreating the wreckage, always meeting us right where we are.
It was a soul-filling Holy Week
Early on, the staff and I set a goal of trying to provide a variety of options during Holy Week and Easter to allow as many people to participate as possible. Here is a recap of some of those worship opportunities:
Maundy Thursday: Over 150 people received Holy Communion at 9 services throughout the day plus one service for first communion families in the evening that was live-streamed to the whole congregation.
Good Friday: Deacon Coco and the High School Youth created an inspiring Stations of the Cross experience that left many people unexpectedly emotional. Vicar Anna led a thoughtful and contemplative Tenebrae livestream worship.
Saturday Easter Vigil was nearly at capacity and many who attended expressed their joy about being in this sacred space once again. We were overjoyed to welcome Pastor Joyce Miller who brought us the Easter proclamation!
Sunday Outdoors at Saddlebrook was graced with beautiful weather and around 400 people safely gathering for worship on Easter morning. I cannot put into words the joy that was felt by seeing so many faces in one place, even if those faces were wearing masks! Deacon Coco baked all the bread for Holy Communion and many hands helped with setup and tear down. Some type of outdoor Easter component will likely continue in the years to come!
Easter Livestream was also much welcomed by a large number of people. The “views” for online worship typically run between 500-600 and it has been a remarkable way for us to stay connected over this past year and will continue to do so in the future. Vicar Anna preached her first Easter message!
So many thanks…
Alleluias remind us that God is the one deserving of praise and worship and that God is the one who makes all things possible. Yet God works through the ordinary actions of people doing little things everyday. There are not adequate words to express my gratitude for the staff at Saint Michael and all the ways each of them has contributed not only to Holy Week and Easter activities but over the long journey of this past year. Please let them know your gratitude as well, because we have much work yet ahead of us:
Deacon Coco, Vicar Anna, Joyce Uber, Jodie Hankins, Jodi Colgan, Tami Curran, Kristin Knott, Jody Kollath, Kevin Hyde, Robin High, Nancy Robson, Barb Gierke, Val Kollath, Kelle Scott and David Bogue
In addition, the worship team and other volunteers played a key role in helping with setup and live-streaming of events. Here are a few of those folks, although I’m sure I’ve missed some names. Please thank God for all of them…and for the beloved community of faith we all belong to:
Debbie Bogue, Judy and Corky Janing, Laura Honeycutt, Jim Newland, Kris Hoffmann, Barry Stych, Jen Seeger, Dale Grobeck, Steve Hyde, Matt Puumala, Laetare Shoo, Cory Curran, Pat Stevens, Jeanette Osterloh, Sara Ferneding, Paul and Connie Hedren, Raelene Leonard, Vicky Bronstad, Dave Uber, Kim and Larry Lahman, Joyce Palmer, Allison Blatchford, and many more.
The risen Christ goes ahead of us, making a way built of faith, hope and love. The way is not easy, nor is it absent hardship and suffering. Yet Easter reveals God’s transforming and creative power even in the face of death. And that my friends is why we shout:
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!