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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The Easter crowd

I used to criticize them, but not now

I used to call them the “Easter only” crowd. Now, I look upon these occasional worshipers with new eyes. Perhaps you’ve wondered, too, about the people who come to services only on the highest of holidays—to hear the best music and wear their best clothes, to see the best flowers and claim the best seats in the crowded sanctuary. And next week? Well, it’s the regulars who come back to do the work of the congregation and pay the bills. I used to say the Easter only crowd just skimmed the spiritual.

But I’ve stopped such criticism. It took some work. In my devotions, I considered why I was so unappreciative of these people who came not so much to skim, perhaps, as to seek. I had to come down from my pastoral pedestal. I had to give up my “look what the church does for you” posture.

I had to understand that my understanding of the Resurrection, one gift of my six years of graduate theological study, had brought me to a faith in many ways different from many of those people who filled the pews on Easter only. Few of them had had time to study the different Resurrection stories the Gospel writers told, or why and what that might mean.

But still, these Easter crowd Christians do come. They sing the great hymn of faith, “Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son. Endless is the victory, thou over death has won.” They hear the Gospel proclamation, whether, or not, I can “explain” the resurrection of the body. They join in Alleluias!

They come—to celebrate the Resurrection with all Christians.

And what about the regulars among us? Are we such strangers, after all, to these others in our pews? Do we not all rush to the stone-closed grave? And are we not all standing in awe of a mystery greater and grander than the sting of death?


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