One word is at the center of my thinking for this “why” of worship: Alleluia.
Each year at this time I ricochet between anticipation of a full sanctuary and anxiety about being up to the task of proclaiming clearly the great truth of Christ’s death and resurrection and celebrating it in word and song together. In the three days and throughout this joyful Eastertide, people will gather from around the world and nation to join us in prayer and song in celebration of a reality that is beyond our prayer, beyond our song. So we want to make their presence worthwhile. But we are so limited.
Faced with the truth of the Resurrection, words never completely succeed. The great challenge we face is that we live in a world shaped more by Good Friday than by Easter. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann, who was conscripted at age 17 into the German army and witnessed the firebombing of his hometown of Hamburg in which 40,000 civilians were killed, wrote: “Good Friday is the center of the world.” But he also wrote: “Easter ... is the Sunrise ... the morning of new life and the beginning of the future of the world. The laughter of the universe is God’s delight. It is the universal laughter of heaven and earth.”
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