Sunday, March 31, 2024

My Favorite Moment of Easter Worship

When I used to serve an Episcopal Church, one of the liturgical differences that stood out to me the most was the fact that we didn't have a prayer of confession during Easter. Don't get me wrong; I totally appreciate the theology behind this, but as a cradle Presbyterian, it just feels wrong not to confess our total depravity every week, even on the day that we celebrate the divine act that ensured our salvation. So I always include it in every liturgy that I write.

This provides ample opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak in unexpected ways. Like today, for instance. At the beginning of worship, we handed out tambourines and bells and other sorts of noisemakers, to help contribute to our joyful noise and to emphasize the "Alleluia" that we've had buried for the past 40 days (incidentally, one of the liturgical traditions that I gratefully retain from my time among the Episcopalians).

As you might expect, the prayer of confession tends to be a quieter part of worship, even on Easter Sunday. We explicitly leave space after praying aloud for us to lift up our individual prayers silently, and of course, there's a bit of a pause between the prayer and the assurance of pardon.

Except today.

Today, even as we prayed silently and faced the reality of our sin, it wasn't QUITE silent. Every few seconds, a delicate "ding-a-ling" would escape; you'd hear the fleeting rattle of bells, the rustling of tiny cymbals. It was as if the Good News couldn't even wait for us to be done confessing before it broke out into the world! Like Christ couldn't hold back his love for even a second! Like God's mercy was already ours, before we finished speaking. And isn't that the exact message of Easter?

I still gave my written Assurance of Pardon, but I made sure to mention that it was, at this point, merely a formality; the Holy Spirit had already expressed God's eagerness for reconciliation through those tiny instruments held by eager hands.

I love it when theology happens without any input from me :)

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