Barry rushed in the front door, threw his books on the hall table and catapulted himself up the stairs to his room where he quickly changed into his work uniform. Dashing back down the stairs and racing through the kitchen, he grabbed a handful of cookies, gave his mom a quick kiss on the cheek and said, “See ya later.”
“What about church?” His mom called out.
“Not tonight, Mom. Gotta work. Another guy called in sick, and I can use the money. See ya!”
It seemed an unusually busy night at the Hamburger Hut. “I don’t remember when we’ve cooked up this many fries on a Thursday night!” Barry’s boss said gleefully.
Barry himself was laying out yet another tray of burgers on the grill to make into the Hut’s specialty – the Sooper Dooper Burger. The big dinner rush was over, but they wanted to be ready for anybody.
Barry glanced at the clock. 7:25pm. In another five minutes, church would be starting. Maundy Thursday. They’d be celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
“Hey, I need two more Scoopers.”
Barry shoveled the meat onto a poppy-seed bun, squirted on the special sauce, added two slices of tomato, a slice of onion and two slices of dill pickle, expertly wrapped it in foil and slid the burgers down the chute to the waiting hands of the counter help.
8:15 pm. They are probably starting the communion liturgy.
“Take eat. This is my body,” Barry imagines the pastor as he unpacks a case of burger buns.
“I’ll take a large Coke . . . no ice.” He hears the order at the counter.
“Take drink,” the pastor says.
11:30 pm and Barry’s done for the night. There is the lingering smell of hamburger grease on his uniform. He’s put in a good night’ work. Yet he feels that something’s missing.
Friday night. “Dan’s going to be here at 7:00 pm, Mom,” Julie calls down the hall. “I’ve got to hurry.”
“I wish you were going to church,” Julie’s mom says as she enters her room.
“Oh, Mom. You know Dan just can’t get into all our church stuff. And we’ve planned this date all week. I’m sorry. Don’t stay up. We’ll probably be out till midnight. Movie and a pizza.” And Julie gave her mom a hug and was out the door.
Dan and Julie met Kim and Mike at the multiplex at the mall. There were a lot of other kids there that they knew from school. There was a new “teen film” showing. Everybody was talking about it. This was the hot ticket in town right now – rated R.
Julie’s mom and dad sat down in a pew close to the front of the half-empty church. “Tonight we remember a death, the most profound death ever,” the pastor intoned.
“Life stinks,” shouts a bitter hero from the big silver screen in the cinema.
“Christ died for all so that we all might have life.”
“If my life is worth anything, it’s because of what I do for myself. Look out for number one.”
“Christ died to pay for our sins. We can put our sins behind us. We strive to live a holy, Christ-filled life.”
Julie felt a little uncomfortable as the couple on screen began to undress. Everybody around her was really into the movie. Dan seemed so absorbed. Why did she feel so out of it?
“Father, forgive them. Father, love them. Father, save them. Amen.”
Julie was quiet the rest of the night. She didn’t feel much like pizza she said. Could they go home early? Dan dropped her off before 11:00 pm. Julie’s mom was still up.
“Something wrong, honey?”
“No, Mom. Just a little tired.” She fell asleep, vaguely sensing something missing.
Paula and Nick met at the mall at 10:00 am Saturday morning. Paula needed to do a little shopping before Sunday morning. And they would have lunch and just hang out.
It was hard to find a parking place. It seemed like everybody and his brother had decided to do a little last-minute Easter shopping.
The crowds were amazing. Paula waited 20 minutes to check out at the department store makeup counter. A woman behind her was swearing a blue streak and Paula couldn’t wait to get out of there.
She and Nick passed the line of parents and kids waiting to have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny. One mother yanked her son back in line and demanded that he stand still. Another grabbed her frightened daughter. “You will too sit on that *#@! Bunny’s lap. I want your picture. Now straighten up.” What a ritual, Paula thought.
Lunch was no better. The food court was packed. And today people seemed so unfriendly, so pressed for time. It was spring. The flowers were in bloom. Tomorrow was Easter. But everybody was so grumpy. Kids fussing. Parents fussing. People pushing. Smiles few and far between.
Paula was glad to get home. “I’ll never do that again. Something’s missing.”
“First service is almost over. Let’s get this breakfast on the road.” Mrs. Gallant, the youth group counselor, was giving orders again.
Bob had been up since 5:00 am and at church since 6:00 am. He and the other kids were getting ready for the annual Easter breakfast.
As the Easter trumpets sounded the opening hymn at the sunrise service, Bob and Freddy were setting up tables. When the choir was singing their Easter anthem, Bob and Mary were pouring juice into paper cups. While Bob and Carol laid out pastries in neat arrangements on borrowed silver trays, the pastor was preaching the Good News of the resurrection. As the Easter Communion was distributed, Bob was stirring the first of many batches of scrambled eggs. Just about the time the Benediction was announced, Bob sat down ready to welcome folks to breakfast and take their money.
“Best breakfast ever,” Mrs. Gallant announced proudly. “I’ve never seen such a large crowd. Now, let’s get this place cleaned up.”
So, as the second service began, the Easter trumpets again sounding the opening hymn, Bob pushed the crumbs of uneaten scrambled eggs and pastry into the waiting garbage can. As the choir sang the Easter anthem, Bob and Freddy were taking down tables. While the pastor shared the Good News of the resurrection, Bob took the garbage sacks out to the trash bin. Through the distribution, Bob and Carol swept the floor of the fellowship hall. “Good job!” Mrs. Gallant gushed.
Bob, Paula, Julie, Barry, Carol, Nick and the others got to the back of the church just as the pastor was announcing the blessing. “May the Lord bless and keep you . . . and give you peace.”
Bob looked at the rest and without really thinking said, “I feel like I missed Easter.” Each in his or her own way knew exactly what Bob meant. Somehow, they had missed the news.
Easter is the Good News that Christ is alive. He is risen. A grave could not contain
the living God. And because He lives, His people will also live.
In a world too busy and often despairing, empty, sad and lonely, the good, joyful, happy news of the resurrection gives comfort, reassurance and hope.
It is also news easily missed. It’s not that we intentionally miss it. We just end up busy or distracted. We do good work for our bosses. We enjoy the company of our friends. We complete our errands and chores. We even work hard at church events.
Fortunately for us, God’s grace and mercy do not ever miss us. We are always loved, always forgiven, always renewed in Christ’s love.
That’s the Good News of Easter. Because Christ lives, we shall live also. That’s too good a message to miss. In Christ, there is life and hope and happiness.
Hear the words: “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” For you!
DON’T MISS EASTER!
Article first published in SpiritQuest magazine, March-April, 1988 from Concordia Publishing House.