It is still Easter, don’t change your message

Easter Sunday is a joyous event for me. I am thrilled by the joining together of the members of the Body of Christ in the acclamation heard around the world: “Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!” It is a communal affirmation of faith and hope that always stirs the heart. Whatever our differences as Christians, no matter the fine-points of the theological arguments that divide us, in this we are united, and together we profess it to God’s glory — “The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

Unlike those who downgrade “Easter Sunday Christians,” I am happy to have everyone together for a time. This not to say that Christians shouldn’t attend Church every Sunday. Of course it would be of value to them, and to the whole Body of Christ, if they were to be present whenever and wherever the Body is gathering — speaking volumes of their commitment to Christ, versus whatever has been chosen as a higher calling when they have not been present before.

Early in my ordained ministry I was the clergyman, secretary, “set up/take down” person, and custodian of the congregation I served. It also fell to me to have chief responsibility over the changing of the greeting on the church answering machine — mainly because it was kept in my apartment.

That year I had taken care to put on a special message inviting people to our Easter Services. Early on Monday morning following Easter Day, while I was out walking for exercise I received a message on the answering machine. Being new to ordained ministry I was excited every time I got a message on the machine.

I poured my first coffee of the morning, sat down and pushed the button to play the message, leaned back and prepared to bask in the warmth of what I knew was praise about the day before and our Easter service.

“Good morning Vicar! Don’t forget you have a meeting tonight. And, by the way, it is not Easter anymore you need to change your message.”

I was stunned! I knew the person had called just to check on whether I was awake and about my job, but that wasn’t what bothered me. It was the statement “It is not Easter anymore you need to change your message” that bothered me.

I called my parishioner back and said, “Easter is not a once a year celebration, but an event we live into daily. My message will remain the same too, Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! He answered me, “That’s fine, Vicar, but if you want anyone to hear you give your message on Sunday morning, you better change the one on the answering machine inviting them to an Easter Sunrise Service this Sunday. See you tonight…”

I thanked him for the next week’s sermon topic.

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The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church.

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