Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Is Over

When I was a child my family and I attended a Baptist church. For me Easter was a time get a new Easter outfit (dress, hat, gloves and maybe even a duster). Easter service was not a lot different from any other service except you sang Easter songs and the sermon would be on Christ's resurrection.

As an adult I became an Episcopalian and Easter became very different. First there is Lent which is a time of study and introspection. Lent is followed by Holy Week with a church service each day of the week beginning on Sunday. My favorite service is the Maundy Thursday service with a foot washing. To me this service represents how we are called to serve others but even more importantly how we must humble ourselves to be served. Being the person that is served is probably the most difficult aspect for most people in our culture. This is definitely true for someone as independent as I am. Maundy Thursday always feels very holy and humbling to me.

This year things were very different. I went into Lent with plans to take on a discipline of reading and prayer and a hope to find another aspect to my faith. In looking back, things had actually taken a different turn even before Lent began. The kerfuffle over the bathroom had started. At first, I was just trying to get through all the drama but at some point I became angry. Just a few days into Lent it seemed everything I was planning to read just made me angry. I finally abandoned my Lenten discipline thinking if anyone had ever led an examined life it was Sarah and I.

It seemed that my anger really heightened during Holy Week. I struggled during every service and Maundy Thursday was the favorite service of the year. Seems one of the antagonists in the bathroom kerfuffle was front and center during that service. I did not participate as I usually do and at one point walked out in tears. (I hope no one noticed.) I went to the bathroom until I felt like the service was at a point I could deal with. I should have just stayed home but somehow I felt drawn back to church.

Finally, Easter dawned. My intuition led me to believe that something would change but logically I could not see what. As Father Ben began his sermon, I was able to listen more than I had all week. Finally, he began to describe how the life and actions of Jesus' actions had turned things upside down, especially, for the status quo. Somehow those words began sooth me and lessen my anger.

The book, Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman, we had recently read for our book club began to inform me what part of the problem was in all the kerfuffle. One point that Mr. Thurman made is that when people try to live in community without fellowship the people on the fringes suffer. They lack the full inclusion and benefits that the majority of the group have. Part of the problem with the the bathroom kerfuffle was that the people who were for excluding Sarah from the bathroom lacked fellowship with us. Several would not speak to us, they would not exchange the peace with us and they would not attend events in which Sarah and I participated. The did not interact with us.

One woman (I'll call her Xema) told me one day that it bothered her that we did not exchange the peace with her. I hugged Xema on the spot and told her that we would be exchanging the peace from this point forward and that the only reason we had not exchanged the peace with her was to give the couple strongly opposed to us a little room . Xema usually sat with them. After a couple of weeks, Xema called Sarah off to the side and told her that us coming over and exchanging the peace was causing too much trouble and they could hug before or after service so strongly opposed couple would not be so upset.

Easter is over and my anger is dissipating. My hope is that things can settle down and all can be not only in community but in true fellowship.

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