Easter has always been special to me. When I was growing up, first in Brazil and later in Canada, Easter often meant attending a weekend conference or some student event that my father was involved in. Good Friday services and the Stations of the Cross were a fixture of my youth. I was baptized, at the age of twelve, on Easter Sunday.
My father was a chaplain at a large university and pastored a bilingual congregation in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. I was baptized in English alongside a Haitian nanny and a converted, former alcoholic, flute-playing hippie. To be sure, it was a motley crew. I can still remember singing at the top of my lungs, in French, “A Toi La Gloire”(“Thine Be the Glory, Risen Conquering Son”). This service, and the congregation of the small but energetic church, will stay with me forever.
It was there during my adolescent years that I found community, in English and in French. It was there that I was asked to play my clarinet for the offertory and help plan a church retreat. It was there that I had opportunity to film baptismal services (on super 8 film)and make lifelong friendships with folks now scattered around the globe. This congregation provided a home for my faith to develop, a place for me to share my testimony, and a way for me to see how others lived side by side.
Easter was always a highlight. Watching the sun come up during the sunrise service over a shaking, frigid group of believers and participating in a rousing church service was all done in rich community. As I think back on those several years, I see how this faith community shaped and blessed me.
When we first moved to the United States, my family was shocked to discover that Americans do not celebrate Easter like we did in Canada. Good Friday and Easter Monday were not official holidays. To our dismay, on these sacred days business carried on “business as usual.”
As goes Easter, so goes society. When we don’t pause to consider the impact of Jesus’ death and resurrection, everything becomes “business as usual.” Hippies and nannies become means to an end rather than people created in the image of God. Children with talent become distractions from our day rather than the generation to come, for whom we are responsible. The prospect of lifelong friends becomes meaningless; the people in our lives are reduced to assets and obstacles, nothing more.
A community is more than a group of people with a shared appreciation for the cream-filled insides of chocolate eggs. A community is a collection of Christ-followers grateful that we serve a risen Savior. He is risen indeed!