During the Easter Vigil Saturday night, I noticed my heart just was not into it and joyful as in past years. Perhaps, it was because Good Friday services somewhat exhausted me; I don’t know. But whatever the reason, I did not like being that way.
But then I noticed a turning of my heart during the renewal of the baptismal vows. I think the gumption of making so many vows I cannot even come close to fulfilling without God’s help reminded me that I have purpose in God’s plan . . . and reminded me to exercise my will and man up.
And then the remaining liturgy and an excellent sermon reminded me of the glory and numerous benefits of the Resurrection of our Lord. For the rest of the service, I was my joyful Easter self.
That reminds me of one benefit of good liturgy. It appeals to Christian hearts whether they be joyful or downcast and does so with the basics of the faith and with beauty. Good liturgy does not manipulative with emotional appeals.
And that last point is important. If, for some ungodly reason, the service would have, say, burst into singing “Celebrate Jesus”, I would have resisted and recoiled into gloom, as indeed I did more than once years ago in response to that cloying song. It’s not for nothing that Proverbs warns of singing happy happy songs to a troubled heart. (Proverbs 25:20) Manipulative worship often backfires.
On Easter itself, one family attending had just lost a father and grandfather that very morning. What if our Easter service has been one big happy-clappyfest? Of course, our service had extra rejoicing on Easter, but there was still plenty of room to worship where one was in life, as is always the case with good liturgy. And the rector prayed for and laid hands on that family. There wasn’t an atmosphere in which one must be happy or else.
So on this Easter Week, in addition to being thankful for the Resurrection of our Lord, I am thankful for good liturgy that does not manipulate but lets one get a grip on the glory of that event at one’s own pace wherever one finds himself in life.