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It had been quite some time since I last attended an Easter Sunday service. I missed out on Collective’s inaugural observation by a few months. Before that, I have, at best, hazy memories of hunting for Easter eggs with some fellow Sunday schoolers. I find this an especially odd gap, because as a kid, my grandparents took me to church almost every Sunday. My parents would make sure I got ready and my grandpa would arrive painfully early in his blue striped van. My grandma would always warmly greet me from her spot in the passenger’s seat. I’d crawl into one of the back seats and off we’d go to church. This was my status quo for longer than I can remember, but come Easter, it was always waking up to a candy filled basket. No memories of church services at all.
As I got older, my church attendance slowly declined. My grandma’s health was erratic and so was my presence in the pews. I was deeply embedded in my twelve year private Christian school experience—certainly a blog post for another day—and Easter shifted from chocolate bunnies to the marker of my spring break. You see, spring break was too secular. No, I got to enjoy a week long Easter break in its place. Did I really get the spirit of the season or its celebration? No. I just enjoyed the week off from homework that accompanied it.
"The Easter holiday had no real resonance in my life."
By the time I hit adulthood—let’s just say 18, even though claiming adulthood at 30 still seems ridiculous to me—the Easter holiday had no real resonance in my life. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was meaningless. I felt the cultural impact every time I walked into a Wal-Mart in the spring and saw brightly colored displays of Peeps, but the spiritual significance was certainly lacking. Both subconsciously and purposefully, I boxed up anything that could be labeled as “religious” or “spiritual” and pushed it to the very back of my mind in college. That part of me put up a valiant fight my freshmen year, but I found myself more and more uncomfortable with the idea of soul searching when Christianity was weighted down with baggage and the most consistent examples in my life only made me feel more alienated.
However, even as I found myself at a profound distance from the religion that spawned it, I was simultaneously confronted with aspects of the Easter season I hadn’t really considered before too. Once I was in college, I would hear folks talking about what they were giving up for Lent. That practice of self sacrifice wasn’t one of the features of my previous brand of Christianity. The version of Lent I encountered then almost seemed like a conversation starter more than a practice of deep spiritual enrichment, but even those conversations seemed like a move in some unknown direction. It added another dimension to the season, even if it quickly slipped into the background with crème eggs and days off.
anything. When I was in graduate school, I continued on obliviously, until, in my final semester, a friend of mine started attending Collective. We would have occasional talks about our own weird backgrounds with religion, but he was always sensitive to my own feelings about the subject. I would ask how services at Collective were, but I didn’t really consider actually going.
The problem with internalizing your issues is that you can’t do it forever. It’s convenient for a time, but it’s not sustainable. When I finished graduate school, a lot of personal issues bubbled up to the surface and I felt pressed to reassess myself. After a few months of feeling like a complete mess, I went to Collective for the first time. It didn’t take long for it to become a fixture in my life after that.
I’m pretty sure I can hear your sighs of relief now that I’ve brought it back to Collective. I’m sure you’re still wondering what any of these past few paragraphs have had to do with both it and Easter. I’m getting there. Patience is a little respected virtue, after all. Once I started attending Collective, I began unpacking a lot of the hang ups I had about being a Christian. Although there’s plenty of other stuff still pushed back into storage, I’ve become more and more comfortable with confronting religion and carving out the framework of my own spirituality. That brings us to this time last year.
Picture it. 2014. Ashes just smeared across my forehead. Mortality confronted in a moment of reflection. I had just experience my first Ash Wednesday service. Although I had lived through 28 seasons of Lent, hitting number 29 meant actually wondering what the implications were. It meant challenging myself to think about things like my own mortality and the way God is both absent and present in my life simultaneously. Heavy stuff that would have had me running in the other direction even a year before that. I don’t recall what I gave up for Lent, if anything. Maybe it was officially throwing off the religious baggage I had carried up to that point? Regardless, the rituals of Lent keep the hope of Easter right on the horizon and made me actually think about what was going on.
Approaching Easter with Lent on my mind and feeling genuinely engaged drastically altered the way I thought about the holiday. By the time the Collective Easter service at Café DaVinci arrived, I had revised its meaning in my head, both from the version of patchy childhood memories and the one of hollow cultural recognition. It was celebratory and meaningful. It became not a marker of days off, but days lived and lost. Food prepared by Free-Wil Barbecue and music performed by Lauris Vidal and Beartoe added flavor and rhythm to the celebration. Easter was something to be shared as a community. For this reason, I’m very excited for the impending service this Sunday. Uproot Hootenanny might change up the soundtrack, but the experience will push further the dialogue I’ve been having with myself and with this community of which I am so proud to be a part.
By Kenny Lane, April 4th, 2015
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
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