Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How Others Celebrate the Holy Season-- Novelist Gail Martin Shares What Easter Means to Her

I was a bus ministry kid. My mother took my sister and me to many churches for Easter so I became a connoisseur of Easter services. The plays were regionalized by southern accents and old guys in horn-rimmed glasses quoting disciples and ranting in fits when Jesus came down the church aisle riding the pastor's cousins' pinto pony. But, nonetheless, it was an interpretation that was expressed through the resources available.

As an adult, I have more than a curiosity about how others practice their faith. I learn from others how they express faith and that there are as many ways to express gratitude for what Christ has done as there are believers. Today, my friend, novelist Gail Martin is sharing with us about how her family approaches the holy season. This is her second visit, so you may read her other chat with me by visiting the WtG archives. Welcome, Gail, to Words to Go.

GAIL: Thanks, Patty. Happy Easter!

PATTY: And to you, Gail! The one practice that somehow eluded my childhood was the practice of Lent. But this is something near and dear to your heart, isn't it?

GAIL: Easter begins with Lent, forty days of repentance and contemplation on the greatest gift given to man. Sunday's are always "little Easters" but during the week, the focus is upon what the Lord has done for us. We worship each Wednesday with a theme that reminds us of Jesus suffering and death.

PATTY: Could you explain the themes?

GAIL:Palm Sunday, our worship begins with a palm procession as each person carries a palm branch --sometimes outside or inside the building. We sing hymns and the focus is on Jesus' kingship, with his royal entry into Jerusalem to celebrate the passover and later in the week face whips and scorns.

PATTY: My husband did introduce this practice and we use children from the children's church. It's so much fun and the kids look forward to it every year.

GAIL: Maundy Thursday, we contemplate the day the Lord instituted the blessing of the Eucharist, the betrayal by Judas, His own disciple, Jesus anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the whips and thorns of his trial. In worship, we experience foot-washing and the stripping away paraments. The service ends in silence.

PATTY: That is amazing. And really so fitting considering what was probably going on in heaven--I can imagine the hush as the angels watch pensively, swords ready in case God changes his mind. But he didn't.

GAIL: Good Friday is our tenebrae service as we meditate on God's sacrifice by giving His Son to die for our sins. We remember the Lord's willingness to give His life and our service lowers to darkness with a loud slam, reminding us of the Lord's death.

PATTY: What I like about this is the simplicity and power of nothing but the use of the slamming noise and the darkened sanctuary. Much of the quiet power of Christ simply laying down his life is more about the inner battle; that can be lost in pageantry. The way you describe it allows everyone to participate.

GAIL:Easter is jubilant with joyful music, handbells, uplifting songs, and a message of triumph and beauty. The Easter story is never old. We are reminded of the sacrifice made for our eternal life in heaven.

PATTY: Gail, you are a Lutheran.

GAIL: Yes.

PATTY: Thank you so much for sharing your passion for God's passion for us. Gail has written over 40 books and has over a million books in print.