Our midweek Lenten series this year was titled “Making Change.” We have covered the change of season, a change of habit, a change of circumstances, a change of heart, and the final session will be “change of plans.”
I would like to invite many of us to make a change in our usual routine for Holy Week.
In the year 387, St. Augustine was baptized at the Easter Vigil. It is the true high point of the full Christian year and we celebrate it in style at St. Mark’s. Each year some of the great stories of the Old Testament are told to show how God has preserved his people since the beginning of creation. Each year we move from darkness to light. We respond with songs – both new and old. Bells are rung, choirs sing, and our Lord’s resurrection is proclaimed. More effort goes into the planning and workings of this service than any other service of the year - yet each year there are only a handful of people in the pews.
I have never been a “numbers guy” who lamented low attendance because I believe the prayers need to be prayed, the lessons need to be read, and the hymns needs to be sung regardless of how many people come. That said, in a community that has excellence in worship (and music) as one of its core values, people ought to be present for the most significant worship event of the year.
It’s not. Evangelical Lutheran Worship suggests twelve Old Testament readings, but we always cut that down to five or six. This is not the three hour service you may remember as a child.
Some say they don’t come because they don’t want to sit and listen to readings.
Each year we try to present at least some of the readings in a different light. We have used dance, drama, choral readings, and music to enhance the various lessons.
On Transfiguration Sunday we symbolically buried the alleluia. It comes back at the Easter Vigil accompanied by a swelling organ, ringing bells, and happy voices. Let’s make a change and have a full assembly for the Easter Vigil this year.
Remember to bring a bell – any shape, any size to help announce the gospel reading!
Photos: 1. Lutheran deacon with Easter candle from Wikipedia. 2. Noah's Ark, original artwork by members of St. Mark's. 3. The Valley of Dry Bones, original artwork by Lauren Sohacki, a member of St. Mark's. 4. A fourteenth century bell depicting Christian saints from Wikipedial