The first door I tried was locked. I walked around the corner and tried another one, which let me right in. I walked through the double doors and into the sanctuary, finding a seat near the back. It wasn't my church - it's right around the corner from mine, and I was at their Good Friday service.
I recognized two or three people, kept an eye out for the friend who said she might meet me there. It was a simple, quiet service. Songs, Scripture readings, prayer, meditation.
A cheery toddler in roomy overalls roamed the space occupied by his family. Another couple slipped in late, sat behind me. A momentary confusion as a wrongly printed Scripture reference was corrected, the proper Scripture then read aloud. Opportunity to confess our failings and weaknesses on paper, then throw it into the bucket with everyone else's, to be later burned.
Thankfulness for God's forgiveness.
I looked around the room, as the service progressed. Aware, suddenly, that all over the world were gatherings just like this. Some in homes ... some outside ... some in lavish, ornate cathedrals ... some in space not traditionally deemed "sacred" ... some in simple church buildings like this.
And all were gathered for the same reason. To remember the death of Jesus, to tell again the story of our faith, each in our own language, within our own traditions and culture.
This morning, back at my own church, another gathering. A higher level of energy, joy - this is the day of the resurrection.
The greeting - "Christ is risen!" And the answer - "He is risen indeed!"
(Or, in our church, the answer more likely is a shouted cheer!)
And again, the sense of being part of a story that is so much bigger than me. It adds depth to my faith, and breadth to my understanding of it. A reminder of God's response to pain, evil, death. A response of grace. Self-sacrifice. Extravagant love. Life.
A Happy Easter to each of you!