Easter Sunday I joined my friends Peter and Greg for the 11:15 AM Celebration of the Eucharist at All Saints Church in Pasadena. The program for the service announced that it was to be a Festive Eucharist. And so it was. The church was filled to overflowing. Ushers scurried around somehow finding a space for each late arrival. There was such joy in the energy of the usher assigned to our area that her ushering itself became embodied prayer.
Little girls pranced around in their brand new dresses; one danced in the aisle throughout the service. Some of the women actually wore bonnets! The diversity of the congregation was represented in traditional dress that included elegant saris and regal kimonos. The church bulletin prints the Lord’s Prayer in English, Spanish and Korean with the invitation to speak the prayer “in the language of your heart.”
The music for the service was appropriately triumphant as befitted the occasion. The organist was accompanied by a brass and percussion ensemble. The youth choir led the processional, followed by the adult choir, the readers, the Eucharistic ministers and the clergy. There seemed to be almost as many people on the altar as were in the pews. One member of the youth choir was in a wheelchair and as he approached the steps of the altar, two other choir members produced a small unobtrusive ramp—seemingly out of nowhere—to assist his ascent to the altar.
Before the homily, an African-American woman recited Maya Angelou’s soul-stirring poem, “And Still I Rise.”