By Diane Roth
Easter Monday evening I went to worship at my husband's church. He is one of the church musicians at a large suburban congregation. For many years they have had a small evening worship service every Monday evening without fail. No matter if it is a Monday holiday, or if the 4th of July happens to fall on a Monday, or if Christmas Day is Sunday morning, there is always a Monday evening worship service. It's always a small congregation on Monday evening, but some Mondays are smaller than others.
Easter Monday is one of those days. It seems like the point of Easter is to worship with a large congregation. The point is to go and be with the large crowds and the trumpets blasting and the choirs singing. Somehow this affirms the truth of the resurrection, because people show up in large numbers, and you have to get out the folding chairs.
This evening, the extra chairs were still all set up in the narthex from the morning before. The large crowds had come and gone, and now it was Easter Monday. The numbers were thinner even than a usual Monday evening service, but the music was wonderful; the trumpeter hit every note perfectly. I remember looking around at the faces during the opening hymn and smiling at a few of the people. The rest of the world doesn't know it, I thought, but we are listening to a perfect trumpet solo right now.
The large crowds are exciting, but there is something true about Easter Monday. There is something true about a few people gathered together listening to the Easter gospel, not because they want to be with the large crowds, but just because they need to be together: They need to taste the wine and share the bread and encourage one another. There is something true about coming together, when it's not even Sunday any more. There's something truthful about coming back together after an ordinary day's work, after making lists, buying groceries, adding up numbers, talking on the phone.
Somehow the evening Easter gathering reminds me of the first Easter evening, with the disciples gathered together in the Upper Room. They are not an impressive bunch. There are just 11 of them. But the Lord appears to them and sends them out.
Not all churches have large crowds on Easter morning. I suspect that it is not standing room only everywhere. But perhaps the large crowds are not the point.
Maybe the point is this: that the Lord appears to us, and sends us out, sends us back out into all the dying world.
Diane Roth is the associate pastor at Woodlake Lutheran Church, Richfield, Minn.