Yesterday was Easter. Now, a brief history for those that do not know me in real life or have followed my blog since the beginning: I am a Christian, but my Christianity is something that has taken a long, slow wagon wheel journey to arrive at. Religion is something that I hold very personally dear to my heart, and I do believe it should be a personal experience for everyone. Most of the time I try to do right by my Lord, but it is a struggle.
Yesterday was one of the days it was easy. I went to a sunrise service with my mom and little sister. At a black church. (I use the term loosely...the service was held at a worship center with a congregation that is mostly African American.) I have never been to such a place before, but I've always kind of wanted to...what I've heard about traditionally black churches has definitely had my curiosity piqued for a while. Us Southern Baptists (which I'm still not sure is where my own religious alliances lie, but the church I attend is of this denomination) tend to like our worship on the serious side. Nothing wrong with that, reverence has it's place. But part of me has always felt like church lacks some of this "joyous noise" I've always heard about.
We drug ourselves into the sanctuary around 6:30AM, after a bone-tiring day of hot sunshine and Easter egg hunts and grilling and basketball the day before, grumbling about why weren't we having sunrise service outside where we could see the sunrise, not knowing what a surprise this church had for us. At promptly 6:48, four women stood up at the front and sang a song that was loud, exciting, and accompanied by a band. Immediately we all sprang to our feet, clapping and swaying to the music. One of my first thoughts was, "wow...how can you not feel good about God when you start your day this way?" We sang three songs total, with free reign to dance, clap, shout, sing, whatever we felt like letting out. It was such a release for me to be able to be joyous about every miracle God has placed in my life this past year.
The rest of the service was just as enlightening. I finally realize why people murmur during the sermon or a prayer. It just shows your agreement, your appreciation for what the speaker and God have done for you. It just made me feel so present and alive. And after the service was over, the congregation served breakfast and were the most welcoming people I have ever met. Genuinely welcoming and wanting to get to know us. It set the tone for the rest of my Easter Sunday, and what a day it was. Happiness abounds!
And as promised, the yearly Easter family portrait:
Hot mama dress and all.