One of my favorite parts of Easter Sunday at my church over the past few years has been the scratch Hallelujah Chorus. Anyone who wants to take part has been invited to step up to the front and join in. No practices, just go for it.
The important thing is to start and end well, David the worship leader would tell folks, and if you get lost in the middle just open and close your mouth and pretend. “If you think God gave you a terrible voice, this morning is when you get to give it back to Him!”
That may all sound a bit irreverent, but it’s actually immensely touching. Sure, it’s somewhat ragged, but to hear those joyous, wobbly and warbly “forever and ever”s and see the joyful faces of the singers always leaves me teary. My heart is strangely warmed, as John Wesley said.
We have a new worship leader now, so I’m not sure whether we’ll get to hear part of Handel’s masterpiece this Sunday, and that has left me thinking about Ian this week.
We were a couple of the leaders of the youth group, way back. We always tried to do something a bit different on Easter Sunday, and one year we had a “eggs-travaganza” breakfast that was to end with my giving the message.
It was about the resurrection, of course, and I’d read somewhere how an evangelist had wanted to illustrate the reliability of the Gospel records, which tell how many people saw Jesus after He rose. The preacher had eaten a flower while speaking, and went on to say that if one man later told a friend what had happened, the pal may not believe him. But if twenty, fifty, or five hundred eyewitnesses said the same thing, he might be persuaded that some crazy guy really had bitten the head off a chrysanthemum.
This seemed like a fabulous idea, so I persuaded Ian to pick up some of the daffodils that were on the big breakfast table and munch away while I talked.
Turns out that daffodils don’t sit so well in your stomach.
But it’s kind of appropriate, because our hearts can’t truly soar before our guts are sore, before we are doubled over by pain. That’s what Easter is all about.
There’s been a major emphasis on grace in the church in recent times, and I’m all for it. How crazy God is about us, and how we can never do a thing (good or bad) to change that one iota.
All true. And yet to really appreciate grace, we have to have an inkling of why it’s needed in the first place. The gory before the glory. Only when we get even a glimpse of how lost we are can we really celebrate being found.
And that’s something to sing about.