John R. Yeatts
The Brethren in Christ Church of my childhood did not practice many Lenten/Easter traditions. We did have a love feast Easter weekend. A focus of that event was the per-sonal evaluation and confession to God and each other on Saturday afternoon that prepared us for our feet-washing communion that evening—an event much like Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. On Easter Sunday morning, we sang resurrection music. I was delighted by the contrast between the slow, solemn verse, “Lo in the grave he lay,” and the fast, joyful chorus, “Up from the grave he arose.” Our Easter focused around the church. My parents rejected Easter egg hunts as worldly practices.
Over the years, my tradition has adapted. As a pastor in the 1970s, I conducted services each day of Holy Week, including feet-washing communion on Maundy Thursday and three-hour Good Friday services with the other churches in town. My family eats fasnachts on Ash Wednesday and attends a sunrise service on Easter Sunday. Although they are now in their late twenties, our son and daughter and their spouses still compete over the eggs hidden in our backyard on Easter morning. My church and family no longer see popular celebrations of Easter as formal or worldly. Such accommodation has added to my enjoyment of Easter, but at the same time I resonate with the important concern of the Brethren in Christ tradition to focus clearly on Christ’s death and resurrection at this time of the year.
John R. Yeatts is a professor of the psychology of religion and associate dean of general education and common learning.
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