Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Come As You Are!

Our deep-fried Moonpie 
Saturday night at a cool restaurant called The Pig we had, among other things, a deep fried moon pie. What we did NOT have was the yummy-looking pimento cheese fries that they offered as one of their specials (for someone who finds writing about food boring, I sure do bring it up a lot, don’t I?) Anyway, if you read this blog regularly, you may recall that I gave up fries for Lent... Woe is me! It has been a bit harder than I anticipated, but that was the hardest it’s been yet! On the upside, since I didn’t give up sugar this year, I was able to split that battered and deep-fried moonpie with my husband!

My Easter dress - endorsed
by Michelle Obama!
Anyway, so goes Lent. It’s kind of like... a very long-feeling six weeks of winter stuck indoors before the bright break of spring. And thank God for the spring! We are so fortunate that Lent doesn’t last forever, right? Soon instead of shoveling metaphorical snow, I’ll be shoveling fries into this overlarge bouche of mine... Bill will be eating cookies, and Tom will be watching Bill eat cookies. (Bill announced he was giving up cookies for Lent, then asked asked Tom what he was giving up. So Tom said, “Watching you eat cookies.”) 

 Bill and me at a community egg
hunt a couple of  years ago
Giving up fries is a small thing, even taking into account the stellar fries at Only Burger, but I will be glad when Lent is over anyway. Nothing beats their greasy, salty deliciousness in my book. And I love the Easter season. I love the chocolate bunnies, the Cadbury eggs, dying eggs with Bill, community egg hunts, the presents (in our family, every holiday means presents!)... the debut of a new spring dress... this year it’s a Jason Wu for Target number just like the one sported by Michelle Obama on a recent trip to Florida!

But most of all, I dig the big parties our church throws for what I consider the pinnacle of the Christian year... The celebration of when Jesus was executed on a cross, came back to life and turned the world upside down. Okay, well, maybe the upturning of the world wasn’t so obvious at the time, but it did happen. It just didn’t LOOK much like an upside down world right away. But, among other things, He respected women, favored the poor, used the foolish to confound the wise, rendered obsolete Israel’s whole sacrificial system, and opened the way to the entire world, not just Israel, to be God’s people.

So it’s really kind of a big deal, Easter. The first service we have is a “Maundy Thursday” service. We sing songs, do our version of the Last Supper and then we go through the uber sad trek to the cross and the things He said... like, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Yep, that’s a famous one... And while they’re reading these lines, they turn the lights off one by one in the auditorium until it’s pretty dark... Another thing that happens is that this awesome woman, a trained singer, Margie Burd-Tippett, sings a song called, “A Purple Robe.” This has been a feature of this service since I can remember, which would be ... late eighties maybe? If for some reason it didn’t happen... well... it would be weird. To tell you the truth, it’s sort of a somber affair, but in the right way. I mean, Jesus’s last hours were pretty grim. I guess it would be weird if we were singing, “Oh Happy Day” to commemorate them.

"Up from the grave He arose!"
Of course the big do comes on Sunday... twice. And it’s the sincerest pumpkin patch of all: a heartfelt, heart-warming celebration of life... His, and therefore ours. The music is always great, thanks to our super talented music minister Nat Stine. The best part to me is the annual singing of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah... not by the choir, but by ANYONE can bound up there can get in on the action. I’m not a great singer, but I go up there and position myself beside a soprano who is and ride her train. What a great piece of music – majestic, yet utterly familiar... and with all those voices... It always feels like a tiny drop of heaven on the tongue. (“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” Revelation 19) All in all, it’s just good to be there with all those people - and everybody being all glad to be alive and all. Sometimes they sing a song called All Shall Be Well and really, during this bash, I can feel that it just might be true!

Then, around 4pm comes the real party... the Easter Festival – a big throwdown involving copious food, music, dancing, art, kids games... It’s supposed to remind us of “The Wedding Supper of the Lamb,” you know, the big shindig in the sky when we finally get to go meet Jesus. Did I mention there was food? And a wedding cake? It’s sumptuous, I tell you.

Anyway, the reason I am telling you all this is because if you’re in the area, you should totally stop by. And if you’re not into the whole Christian thing, maybe consider it a “rite of Spring.” (Remember Snoopy dancing with the bunnies? Like that!) Here's the skinny: Maundy Thursday service: April 5 at 7pm; Easter Sunday morning services at 9:30am and 11:05am; Easter Festival at 4pm. Here’s the address: 260 Erwin Road in Chapel Hill, NC 27514, and here’s the web site: www.biblechurch.org Be there or be square! Er... I mean, come if you can, and by all means, come as you are!

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