This week I had the privilege of participating in Passion week at my church, Grace Evangelical Free Church of La Mirada. What a joy it was to join with so many members of our body to set the environment for a Maundy Thursday communion service and Easter Sunday. I feel very strongly that aesthetics can aid worship and I was excited to help set the tone for such an important week at our church.
The focus of our services was John 11-21. After hearing about Lazarus’ resurrection and the Triumphal Entry earlier in the week, Thursday night’s service focused on the Last Supper in John 13-17. To reorient ourselves, all of the chairs in our dimly lit sanctuary were turned towards the center and the communion elements. What a sobering and impacting experience.
Good Friday’s service followed with a reading of John 18 and 19. The “Service of Darkness” allowed us to remember Christ’s crucifixion and burial.
Easter Sunday tells a whole different story, however. We focused on John 20 and 21 where we see the empty tomb and Christ alive again. To remind us of the Resurrection of Christ, we used lots of white to transform the room. How different it feels to celebrate with so much joyous white after the somber days we’d just experienced.
We used flowering cherry blossoms and butcher paper garlands to fill the space and orient our eyes to the empty cross; a reminder that Christ has risen indeed.
As a closing thought, I wanted to include a quotation that my friend Melissa just sent me from a Lancelot Andrewes Easter sermon on Mary Magdalene’s reunion with the risen Christ. Mistaking him for the gardener, she asks Christ if he has removed the Lord’s body from the tomb.
“Now He that was thought lost is found again, and found, not as He was sought for, not a dead body, but a living soul, nay, a quickening Spirit, then. And that might Mary Magdalene well say. For He quickened her and her spirits that were as good as dead. For, in very deed, a kind of resurrection it was… in her, revived and raised from a dead and drooping to a lively and cheerful estate. The Gardener had done his part, made her all green, on the sudden.”