I had a fine visit to my former fellowship today. I don't visit very often, and I admit that when I woke up this morning, I thought that it might just be easier - in a lot of ways - to go to my own church where I belong.
But in thinking about it this past week and again this morning, I knew that today is the last Sunday of the Easter Season in the western church - and I remembered well (and always loved) how all of the Sundays of Easter felt much like Easter Day at this parish. So I reconsidered postponing my visit, at least for the opportunity to sing some good western Easter hymnody, which I do miss a bit. (I even managed to slip into my favorite spot in the nave!) And of course there were some wonderful Easter hymns to sing, with trumpets and timpani and other instruments, too. While I didn't get to sing my very favorite Easter hymn, "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands," I did get to sing a close runner-up, "Christ is Arisen."
Among it's many blessings, Church of the Resurrection has a small committee of two who have an eye for that which is beautiful and significant, and they use their gifts and artful eyes to decorate the church in expressive and meaningful ways which serve to enhance worship there. When I entered the sanctuary this morning, my eyes were immediately drawn to the cross on the front wall. This being the 7th Sunday of Easter there, the church was decorated for Ascension (last Thursday for them) - and there was a sweeping sheer gold cloth above and in front of the cross, drawing my eyes upward in the direction that Christ ascended. Yet this is not what I first noticed about this configuration of cloth and cross - I noticed first that the sweeping gold cloth, combined with the silver crossbeam of the cross made an enormous and perfect "A" on the wall - for "Alleluia!" I thought. How clever! Further, as I looked at it for a few minutes before service started, I thought it significant that without the bar of the cross, there would be no A for Alleluia, that it is the cross which forms the church's Easter song. How cool. (I spoke with one of these talented decorating women briefly during the service and she mentioned that she hadn't really thought of it from that angle when she did the decorating. Yet I hold that such meaningful work, when done with love for the church, will inspire some to see other holy visions).
Whenever I visit Resurrection, I am reminded of my own recent journey to the Orthodox faith and the unique role that this particular parish played in that journey - it was not insignificant. This confessional little Lutheran parish did not drive me to Orthodoxy, they helped to lead me to it - and for this I will always be grateful to them.