Because I have spent much of my adult life involved in planning Easter Sunday events at a church, Saturday has always been a day of tension. I know that we are still in the darkness of Friday, yet there is work to do to prepare for the celebration to come. Again, today, I split this tension. I woke up this morning and intentionally slowed my thoughts. I recalled (in a pre-coffee haze) the pain that we walked through last night. I chose to hold on to Friday for as long as I could. I sat in the beautiful morning air and watched my youngest practice. I came home to a house with the doors open to the breeze. I chose to take some long deep breaths and sit in the unknown angst of waiting.
I went to 218 (the name for the building where we gather to serve and worship) about 3pm. As I walked in, the cross was still hanging. The thorns were still present. The candles were out and the evidence of a dark night was somber. We began to transform the space for a party. The curtains went from the black fabric to the bronze satin. The waters of Baptism took the place of the cross. The drapes of the Lenten season were lifted and you could begin to feel the lightness in the air. This part of Saturday is especially dear to me as I work along side one of my favorite co-conspirators in all things liturgy and one of my best friends. Each in our own areas of passion, we work to create space for all to hear that the darkness has gone.
The last few years, I have gifted myself a guilt free Easter afternoon. This was a lesson that took many years to learn. I give all that I have to Holy Week. By the time that Saturday evening comes around, I have poured and felt and worked and loved the heck out of the journey. The idea of cooking and cleaning is last on my list. I WANT to have a lovely Easter dinner or drive to be with family on the other side of town. But on the years that I have forced this, I leave with little to no resurrection joy. What seemed like a good idea 4 weeks beforehand, leaves me exhausted and downright intolerable by Sunday night.
Four years ago, I let go. I invited a few friends for crawfish on Easter. There was no set table, no place cards, no china. There was no silver or ham or rolls. We ate crawfish on newspaper in the backyard. It was wonderful. This year, we have our pool ready and 57 pounds of squirming mudbugs on ice. Paper plates will be more than sufficient, as this day is not about eggs or baskets or fancy for me. This day is about the things that mean the most to me in this world: Jesus and my people.
For those of us with deeply imbedded Southern roots, this may seem mildly sacrilegious. But for this free thinking, resurrection celebrating pastrix, flip-flops and shorts are exactly what I need. Any and all cuteness and bunny crafting will come because someone else played on Pinterest. And when it is all said and done, a nap is defiantly in the plan. I’ll be ignoring all swimming teenagers by late afternoon. Whatever you are planning to do to celebrate tomorrow, make it a day where the reason we gather is the focus of your planning. Sing and smile and love and laugh. Walk with a lightness and a spirit of joy. May we see Jesus in all the glory of new life and fling ourselves into a season of falling more deeply in love with our Savior.