“No pizza until we’ve struck the set, folks,” the director barked. “The faster we work, the sooner we’ll eat.”
Our community theater troupe had just finished its final matinee of the season, and we were still high-fiving each other over the show, our stage makeup streaked with sweat and a few tears of relief. After weeks of rehearsals, the four performances we’d given were over in a matter of hours. Most of us had to be back at work the next day, and the hall we’d rented had to be cleared and cleaned for use by another group.
As we dismantled the scenery and packed up our costumes and props, our excitement gradually ebbed, and our voices dropped while we focused on the task at hand. We commended each other on a show well done, but we also began to realize that our heartfelt production hadn’t exactly stormed Broadway. After our brief time in the spotlight, we would return to our ordinary lives. We had given our audiences a few moments of diversion and perhaps joy, but in the end, nothing had changed.
Or had it?
We ourselves weren’t the same people who had entered that auditorium a few months earlier. Our time spent learning the script, practicing our delivery and painting backdrops had bonded us. Even — and especially — our struggles had drawn us closer to one another. The dialogue and the cues that we couldn’t quite master became opportunities for encouragement and victory. The homespun costumes (and the dreadful wig I wore) enfolded us in laughter; we quickly learned not to take ourselves too seriously.
Easter, the central mystery of our faith, is far more than a liturgical showstopper. Unlike my theater company’s humble production, the splendor of our paschal worship has opened the door to an eternal reality — the risen Christ, who has radically altered what it means to die and to live.
After the lilies wilt, after the vestments are once again green, we should still feel different, very different, in the face of the everyday. Our actions and our conversations should be suffused with a new energy. Cynicism, sarcasm, indifference and boredom should taste bitter after we have fed on Christ’s body and blood. “Alleluia” should never sound ordinary.
And we have been renewed not only for ourselves, but for a purpose: to transform a broken world into the kingdom of heaven. Look only for a moment at the headlines, or into the weary eyes of your fellow travelers throughout the day, and your mission will reveal itself with stunning clarity.
Fortunately, Easter has an ongoing engagement, and its joy will never see a final curtain call. May our eyes and ears be open to such a divine drama, and our hands ready to lift themselves in sacred applause and loving service.
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