Sunday, April 24, 2011
The Secret Lives of Pastors' Wives: A Different Kind of Easter
It's Easter morning at 9:21 and I am still in my pajamas and now sitting at the computer to type in my blog. This is radically different from Easters past. I have been married to a pastor for about 18 years. (We've actually been married for almost 21 years, but for a couple of those he was an insurance adjuster and a full-time seminary student). We have done the mega-church thing. Did that for almost 7 years. At one time being in a mega-church was our dream. The pinnacle of ministry success. Not so much anymore.
We planted Tapestry church 2.5 years ago. It is an intentional small community. When we grow to a couple of hundred people, we will purposefully split and form a new church. We don't want to get big. Our strength is in the fact that we are small. Everyone knows everyone. It's quite evident when we have visitors. And we do have visitors...a lot! There have been times when our visitors have outnumbered our regular members/attenders. Part of our appeal is the small intimate community. Of course, it is a drawback for others who would prefer to come and sit anonymously in a large church. I have been at that place in my life as well. There are other churches in the community to fit all sorts of needs and preferences.
We also meet at night. We have no morning service at all. I LOVE that! Since we moved from the deep south to the frozen tundra I have worked full-time for the first time since our boys have been born. I relish my weekends and my time with my family. Sunday mornings are now a day for sleeping late and hanging out with my family. A real Sabbath...in a pastor's family. Imagine that! My husband is good about studying and preparing his sermon during the week. Usually he may spend an extra hour or so tweaking his powerpoint or printing out bulletins (we have no secretary), but usually he's not running around in a panic. He heads up to the school where we meet at about 3:30 and I go up between 4:30-5:30 depending on various things. Our service is at 6:00 and we have to be out by 8:00. He does not spend all of Sunday at church anymore, coming home exhausted.
In other churches, he might have to attend as many as 4-5 services on Easter: sunrise service, the three usual Sunday morning services, and maybe another evening service. He'd be at home for a couple of hours for lunch and that was it. When the kids were little, I had to get them ready and dressed extra fancy all by myself. Invariably, someone would have an exploding diaper or spit up sour milk on me and it was back to the drawing board. I was rarely in a worshipful mood on Easter morning after getting everyone dressed, putting them in carseats, lugging around diaper bags, and dealing with chocolate bunny overdrive. In addition to Easter morning, there were also always cantatas and Maundy Thursday and/or Good Friday services. It was a busy, busy week. Sometimes in our busyness I think we can overlook the reality. We can neglect to take time to consider it all. We can forget to be amazed...and humbled...and loved by the miracle of Easter.
Jesus hung between two thieves.
Just this morning I was telling my husband that while I am so thankful today for a risen Saviour, I am also thankful for a real day to celebrate that. Not a day full of religious obligations and spiritual busyness, but a day to contemplate, rest, and rejoice. Yes, it does feel weird not to go to a sunrise service. Even though I am very much not a morning person, that was always one of my favorite services. Robert discussed having a sunrise service with our leadership team and everyone was in agreement that we would just be doing it to do it. We're not about activity for the sake of activity. It's also nice, since we have a large percentage of college students at our church, that they can go home and spend the weekend with their families and still make it back to worship with us tonight. That wasn't part of the original grand plan to have church at night, but it has worked out so well that way. People can boat, fish, travel, and still make it back for church in the evening.
Our budget doesn't increase for Easter. We don't spend tens of thousands of dollars on an Easter cantata. On a personal level, nobody really buys new clothes for Easter because we are a very casual church...and it's still too cold to wear springish clothes anyway. We don't have extra programming. No Easter egg hunts, no new banners, no Easter lilies. During Holy Week, we do one big service project together (one year, painting at the Salvation Army Hope Center; this year, serving a meal at Place of Peace), we have a quiet reflective Tenebrae service that involves candles, a guitar, bass, and drums, and then our usual Sunday evening service. Jesus will be celebrated indeed! However, no one will be too exhausted or obligated to participate in the celebration.
Another thing we have had is various members of church do different interpretations of the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. There were two stations each week with the scripture and some artistic means of representing it. These ranged from sewing to painting to photography, etc. It has been so meaningful to have different people demonstrating different scriptures in various ways. It also gets so many more people involved in leading worship. We'll have all 12 stations tonight to look at once more in chronological order. Can't wait!
Today the Pam of the past would have a beautiful new dress, would have already been to a sunrise service, sitting in a second service, and preparing for Sunday school, while having her mind otherwise thinking about how she was going to get lunch ready in time. Instead, earlier this week I have been able to thoughtfully contemplate the sacrifice of Christ, His love for me, and the debt He paid. Today, as the sun streams through the windows, I have been rejoicing at the fact that He defeated death. In a little bit I will start working on lunch (I just have to do the sides because Robert is home to smoke a brisket!) and then I'll take a nap. We will end the day in joyful celebration of our risen Saviour with our church family this evening. Simple church...what's not to love?
Blessed Easter to you and yours!