Sunday, March 31, 2013
Rebuilding (Rethinking) The Meaning Of Easter
Yesterday, on Facebook, I wrote about Easter this way:
Remembering those Easters of my sisters and me, complete with scratchy new hats with chin straps, ruffled socks, red-patent leather shoes and matching purses, crinolines and petticoats, spit curls and wave-set, wishing for chocolate bunnies instead of real eggs, white chocolate crosses, white leather New Testaments, and my mother totally worn out by the time we got to church. Good times.
And then, I remembered other Easter seasons that went more like this:
Of course, in later years Good Friday services droned on for six hours (seriously, six hours) while the choir stood the entire service. (No joke.) Our candlelit holy communions were filled with "angels" and "demons" walking the aisles, and a screaming pastor. Or a pastor who made us all stand or sit in complete and utter silence because the "Spirit" was moving. "No going out, no coming in!" And we dare not move. A jam-packed sanctuary of sweaty bodies; standing room only. The place was so hot. All I could think about was having to pee, and sneaking past the gestapo ushers to use the restroom. We were prisoners in our own church.
We passed the grape juice and wafers wishing it were a cold Coke and bite of pizza. We had no real concept of the truth, or at least we couldn't think about it because of the constant manipulation and the big King James Bible he held over our heads. The sobbing and guilt and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Yeah. Not good memories of Easter. Not for me. Thank God a million times, thank God that's over. The real meaning of Easter now lives within me ...
It has occurred to me as I sit here on Easter, listening to the epic movie King of Kings on my TV, that church for us was always like that movie. Aways a show. Always an epic production. He was a master showman, a wanna-be movie star, a great actor. A man who had narsisistic view of himself, and a wild fascination for attention and the stage. And we were stupid enough to give him a standing ovation every time he pranced onto the platform at the beginning of the service. I wish we knew then the Charlatan that raged within him.
I don't think I can listen to this movie any longer. As beautiful as the story is, it reminds me too much of sitting in that church, hoping to find the true God, only to experience the oppression of a mad man. Too many times I remember running to my car, and bawling my eyes out.
Once or twice a year he would rent one of these films, King of Kings, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Ten Commandments, and show them on the big screen that pulled down in front of the baptistery. (The show was free, of course--but there was no popcorn.) And now as I listen to the movie once again, the script haunts me. It sounds as though he wrote it. Or as if he studied these films to learn how preach, how to speak like Charlton Heston or direct like Cecil B. Demille, insuring we "trust and obey," how to use the scriptures in these films to control and manipulate.
Strange how something that should bless me, is creeping me out.
Time to turn off the TV, and read the Easter story for myself.
I pray God bless you on this Christian holiday. Because if you have read this and cannot relate to a word of it ... then He has surely blessed you already.