I am sitting at home, reflecting on a very satisfying Holy Week and Easter Sunday. As always, I spent a lot of time at my church, Calvary Memorial of Oak Park, over the last few days. I did not myself take any pictures, but I have plenty of images and moments from the last week in my mind. A few to share with you...
Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, we had the annual palm parade, with all of the children's Sunday school classes marching around the Sanctuary waving palm branches during the singing of Paul Baloche's "Hosanna." From my position in the audiovisual control booth, I saw every child walk past, all looking so excited to be part of the service.
Wednesday evening was dress rehearsal night for this weekend's services. We had a full schedule, and it was a very successful evening. I felt very good about the coming services at the end of the rehearsal. It is always satisfying just to see all the musicians come together in rehearsal and get a teaser of what the services will feel like.
Thursday evening was our Maundy Thursday service, a relatively new service for Calvary (this was only our third year celebrating Maundy Thursday). Seminary student and lay worship leader Erik Johnson prepared the songs and led our time of singing, and Nate Friedrichsen, our pastor of community engagement, gave a message focusing on the two cups: our cup, the cup of God's wrath, that Jesus drank for us, so that we could drink his cup, the cup of the new covenant. As I reflected with a friend afterward, I had never thought of it that way, and the image was helpful. The Maundy Thursday service had a great "family" feel, as it should. We celebrated communion at the service, and because we only had one service for that occasion, it allowed for informal and non-curtailed mingling afterward. I found myself at Red Mango with a few friends from the young adults' group after the service!
Friday evening we had our Good Friday services. I was the worship leader for the service, guiding the congregation through a liturgy of Scripture reading, corporate singing, and songs offered by the Sanctuary Choir. Gerald Hiestand, our senior associate pastor (our equivalent of an executive pastor) gave the evening's reflection, "Acquainted with Grief." It was a service of contemplation and commemoration, and I was privileged to have that leadership role in it.
Saturday, for me, was a work day. It was the day a few of us staff are at church, very busy getting ready for the following day. The redecorating and setting up for Sunday did not take long at all though, and only heightened our excitement for Sunday.
And then there was today, Easter Sunday. With my alarm set for 5:00 AM, I woke up instead at 4:45 AM, and found myself at church by 6:00 AM. I completed my walk-through and got everything open and powered up and before long the band, choir, and orchestra arrived for our warm-up rehearsal, and then it was time to celebrate!
It was, on the whole, a very good morning at Calvary. Everyone was in a good mood, the congregational singing (of classic Easter songs both old and new) was robust, the snacks were delicious, and by the time we reached mid-morning the sun was shining, dispelling the early morning cloudiness. God was praised for his victory in Christ. The resurrection, as Senior Pastor Todd Wilson said in his sermon titled "This I Believe" from 1 Corinthians 15, is God's "authenticating signature" on the life, teaching, and death of Christ. And we celebrated that signature in joyous fashion.
Such a great week. I was so blessed to be part of it. And, by the grace of God, I did not find any of it stressful or even draining, really. All by God's grace. Soli Deo gloria.