Granny’s Take on Holy Week

When I was a kid we still got  Good Friday and Easter Monday off of school.    Many businesses also operated on abbreviated hours during those days as well.  Growing up I often spent Easter with my Grandparents.   My Grandparents in Chicago would drive  from one edge of the state to to the other to pick me up; a long drive before the advent of the interstate system.  Being with them during  holy week  left memories about the holy season that has stayed with me all my life.

My Granddad was a Methodist minister, and Granny was the standard good minister’s wife.   She belonged to to all the ladies clubs and could be seen at church each time a service was held.   She rode shotgun and supported him and the message he delivered. My Granddad  went to work each day and I was left to spend the day with Granny.    It was she who shared with me that from her perspective that Easter was the biggest Christian holiday.  She felt that the rising of Christ clearly trumped Christmas.   The completion of miracle of the triumph over death for us was the single thing most important thing to a Christian, when Granny told the story.

One of my most vivid memories was of going to church several times during holy week.  Of course we went to church on Palm Sunday, the first day of holy week.   It was full of hymns that in my memory were the same ones sung every year.   It seems  that hymns sung were known to everyone in attendance; those who came to church every Sunday and those who only came a few times a year.  None of the mumbling along a note or two behind the organist, with people wondering who had picked this obscure hymn to sing. I always enjoyed it when the whole congregation could sign a hymn together, those who had wonderful voices and folks like me who were tone deaf and could not sing on key no matter the tune.    We would then go to church again on Maundy Thursday, the day of the last supper.      Finally Good Friday would come and we would go to church acknowledging the death of Christ. Lent always seemed like a time of a great dark cloud to me.   We’d get dressed up in our going to church dud and go to church over and over knowing what the outcome would be the same.

Granny would during the Easter season play Handel’s Messiah over and over.   It was through this repetitive exposure, that this I came to understand that this oratorio.   Granny caused me to  actually came to listen to the words and came to understand that much of it came from a version of the Psalms.  I love to hear it during the Christmas season when so many do public performances of this are done, but during Eastertide I dig out my classic version done by the London Symphony and the non-traditional Soulful Celebration.

Granny has long since passed away, and before that time it had been years since I spent any time around Easter with her.  Yet this holiday season I think of the foundation  and perspective they gave me.


Happy Easter

I was up at 5:30 to start my rolls for brunch.   It was a wonderful quiet morning watching a nearly full moon set in the West.   I enjoyed working with dough, and the smells of yeast.  I found myself humming Easter hymns reminiscent of church services of past.  A wonderful way to start the day.

By Diana who Looking Out the Window Posted in Seasons Tagged

Easter Brunch

I spend Easter with my Montana family.  I each year bring my highly sought after Chico rolls.   The recipe comes from a Chico Hot Springs resort cookbook.  The rolls are sinful.

This year I am brining something else as well.   I saw a cute idea for the silverware and now I have made 30 of the carrots with orange napkins and green utensils.   I am sure that the kids  will enjoy the efforts.   I am not sure that the parents will appreciate the pipe cleaners.

By Diana who Looking Out the Window Posted in Seasons Tagged

Easter Traditions

The calendar here may say spring, but the weather here is very winter like.  In spite of that, it is  Easter is this weekend.  Growing up  I can remember, or at least the pictures help me remember,  a new dress, hat, shoes and gloves  for the Easter church service.   (yes I am old enough to remember when you wore gloves to church).

Morgan Park United Methodist Church - Chicago, Il

If I was in Chicago I would go to my Grandfather’s church,where he was a minister.  My Grandfather’s voice had a great timbre and I loved to listen to him deliver the sermons. Easter and Christmas were two seasons when the complete congregation would show up. It was also the time when the order of service would include many traditional hymns that everyone seemed to know, so the church would be filled with more than the usual voices of praise.     I would sit in the back of the church with my Granny, who as a minister’s wife  had a great musical voice, and sing with passion in my little out of key voice.    After the service we would go home and have an Easter dinner, all the while Handel’s Messiah playing on the stereo.  My grandmother would remind me that the Messiah was a musical tribute to Christ’s life and the Hallelujah chorus that people associate with Christmas was actually about the resurrection.

Looking over Lake Carlton @ Rockwood Park

If I was at home we went to sunrise service,  it was a much of a tradition as candlelight service is a Christmas.  My childhood church  faced East and it was moving to watch the stain glass window go from dark to be illuminated by the sun.   The window not pictorial, but full of symbols of the Christian faith; the empty cross – Christ rising, the fish – St. Peter and fisher of men, the eye – God being all-seeing and all-knowing, and many more I can’t now remember. If the pastor timed it right the sun would illuminate the window just as he was closing out his sermon.  As I got older and a state park was developed just outside of town the local churches decided to have a singular service at the park.  It is an amazing parallel the rising of Christ and to watch the sun rising in across the lake, and peak out  above the rolling hills covered with a hardwood forest with the first leaves of spring.  If you did not believe in God, listening to a sermon, seeing churches of various denominations come together, and watching the sunrise would have make you rethink that position.

Click to see a slide show of the Sunken Garden Room

When I moved to Minneapolis, there would be no place like Rockwood State park, but my tiny little downtown church in one of the roughest parts of the city at the time would have sunrise service every year at the Como Park Conservatory.  I am not sure how they managed such a thing, as our little church had no money to rent such a space as it was already heavily depended on the synod to sponsor us like a mission in a 3rd world country  to save the souls of the inner city.  Nor was the Conservatory close by, it was geographically unfit considering many of the parishioners relied solely on public transportation.  Getting those there who wished to attend was a logistical miracle.  Now in retrospect, maybe it was as it was suppose to be.  A chance for folks who lived in a neighborhood with a lack of safe green space to go to some place that would feel almost ethereal, warm, green, and safe.   The minister would stand at the far end of the room known as the sunken garden in front of the fountain.  There he would deliver the service .  The sunken garden room had a long pond that ran the length of the room, filled with koi and lilies.   The room was full of many different flowers of the season blooming and their fragrant blossoms filled the air.  On Easter for a girl who lived in the city, from the country, it was refreshment for my soul.

In Montana I haven’t found a place that does a sunrise service in the nearest town.  Though I attend church  I must admit I do miss that watching the sun rise on Easter morning and reflecting on Christ rising at the same time.  It was a moment for me to reflect on the many miracles of life.   May you be blessed by the Holy Spirit in the holiday season.