I did it again, missed attending church on Easter.  I had every intention of attending the service at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral here in Portland.  I wanted to hear the choir and the huge Rosales organ belt out “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today,” but it didn’t happen.  I had even set my alarm to 6:30 so I could get up in plenty of time, eat my breakfast that included hot cross buns made by Mrs. Safeway, and catch my bus.  But it didn’t happen.  Because I had awakened at 3 a.m. with a backache and had spent time and energy turning my mattress over and reassembling my bed, I was too tired to get out of bed when my alarm went off.  Thus, despite my best intentions, my Easter morning at Trinity Cathedral didn’t happen.

How did I feel about this, this nonhappening?  I felt sad and disappointed in myself, for I had let myself down one more time. Chalk up one more Sunday morning of failing to catch the bus and failing to attend church. Nevertheless, I ate my Easter breakfast, including Mrs. Safeway’s buns with the lemon crosses on top and the candied fruit inside, and I watched “Meet the Press.” Appropriate to the day, the discussion centered on the intermixing of religion and politics.  As I watched, I thought about the distance we have come since that week of Christ’s crucifixion and subsequent resurrection from the dead.

I thought about all the twists and turns in the road that we call “organized Christianity.”  And I wondered how–or if– our poor old world will ever reconcile differences and get back to honoring such basic principles of social mores and morals as those set down in the Ten Commandments and the Gospels. After all, if the participants on “Meet the Press” can’t acknowledge with respect the real and basic ties between Judaism and Christianity and between Catholicism and Protestantism, then how on earth can the many divisions within Christianity be reconciled? And on a grander scale—how can members of all the world’s religions come to terms of peace with one another?

By the time “Meet the Press” was over, I was angry over what I had seen and heard on the program, and I was also sad because nobody involved in the discussion had acknowledged the presence of the “elephant in room,” the matter of reconciling differences in order to work for the common good of humanity. An elephant was there, of course, represented by certain politicians, and that elephant received a lot of attention and care.  But the other elephant, the one nobody appeared to notice, languished, tired and emaciated and sad, in the corner, totally ignored by the speakers. Yes, setting aside individual selfish interests to work for the common good of humanity was obviously not a serious consideration for the speakers gathered around the table on “Meet the Press” this Easter Sunday. 

When the program had concluded, I knew that I had to do something to honor the poor, neglected elephant in the corner and this beautiful Easter morning.  I knew it was too late to catch a bus to church, but I  knew that there was a woman in my apartment complex who also had planned to attend a church service but who had not felt up to it. Recalling the words “Whenever two or three are gathered in my name. . .,” I called her and asked her if she would join me in a makeshift Easter service.  She agreed.

Thus, with the help of my Book of Common Prayer, I did my best to construct a short liturgical service appropriate to the day and copied the pages from my book for my friend so she and I could read the responses together. We ended our service with the “Prayer Attributed to Saint Frances,” a prayer that I believe is as important as the Ten Commandments and the Gospels in guiding human behavior:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Upon arriving home, I reflected on this Easter morning experience–on the television discussion, my feelings about it,  and on the  makeshift liturgical service.  “What would it take before people, politicians especially, opened their eyes to the plight of the elephant in that room, the elephant waiting in the corner to be noticed and to be nurtured and nourished and tended?”  The answer that came to me was so simple and yet so powerful:  “Lord, make us instruments of your peace . . . ”