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Monday, April 9, 2012

Celebrating Our First and Last Easter at 70 Main Street.

It was a crazy week leading up to yesterday.

We'd just finished our first off-site worship gathering since moving to our Main Street space. We've been feeling our first real growing pains and decided to get a mid-sized banquet space at the Hotel Northampton just up King Street from us. The Palm Sunday/Easter services tend to be when folks visit a new place, or go to church for their traditional Christmas and Easter ritual. We knew we'd be in trouble if we used the imagine space; it's not cool to turn away people.

So the Monday after Palm Sunday, Dave, Tricia and I (mostly Dave), began searching for another space.  We were given the impression we could also use the hotel facility for Easter, but that turned out to be untrue. Time was short, so we felt like we had to scramble amidst all the other ministry a week brings .We called about and visited a few spaces which had potential to work. All were no-goes. We tried until Friday. It appeared God wanted us to stay put.

Tuesday night, Jim, Tricia, and I settled on a structure of fitting readings and songs, plus a short reflection in the middle.We wanted different and fresh.

During the week, the imagineWORSHIP Team rehearsed twice and had 6 songs ready for Easter. We spent some time with jazz diva Diane Reeves' amazing renditions of Morning Has Broken to use as an opening song. Eslie ended up singing it acappella, and did a great job. It set a spiritual tone. Michelle brought in and sang a strong lead on Robert Lowrey's 1876 Nothing But the Blood of Jesus hymn. We turned it into an uptempo Bo Diddley kind of groove with djembe, guitar and bass. We also did Michael Kelly Blanchard's BeYe Glad with just voice and snare drum. We finished with Alive, What the Lord Has Done For Me, and Revelation Song. People sang!! Some smiled.

During the week, Karin went to work and found material to read from Madeline L'Engle's "The Ram: Caught in the Bush," Luci Shaw's "To Know Him Risen," and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia where Aslan has risen and is playing joyously with the kids, but also summoning them to the Kingdom  work ahead. Tricia composed and read a reflection on the idea of Jesus as the Gardener of our souls. Karin also read from John 20. There was food for the heart and mind in what was read and reflected. Karin and Tricia in their own styles drew us in to listen and contemplate.

And there was great food for the stomach...always an inviting feature at imagineWorship.

On Saturday, Tricia and Kait set to adorning our space with festoons of brightly-colored, gauzy material with streamers attached. On Sunday, Tricia launched multicolored, helium-filled balloons (with Scriptures attached to the strings), to hug and bobble the ceiling. The mood created was festive and playful - just what we wanted.

So yesterday, as we'd hoped, we had a number of guests, and the place filled to capacity. Our little room for worship was packed like sardines, right up to the band. The energy was bright and right for celebrating. We had some lovely surprises, including 4 imagineurians, who for various reasons had been away, but were able to be with us - for two, it was like a renewal. Folks invited friends there for their first time, and they all appeared to enter into worship with us. What a pleasure to see it. Another pleasure was finding that someone was there who, as an act of beginning to heal, came to our Easter.

As some of you know, we don't see Sunday morning church as the zenith of our missional task. The day has an important role to play in gathering us all together to celebrate God, to hear from him in the Scriptures, and to sing to him in solidarity with all the gathered around the world. This, our first Easter Worship was alive, and life-giving; simple, but real. We worshipped.

I don't suspect we'll be worshiping at the Main Street space for much longer. But I know Resurrection life is practiced here. Yesterday confirmed it.

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