Easter morning in France dawned bright and beautiful, with the sun shining and the birds singing. It was a bit of a strange morning for me, however. For the first time in eight years, I didn't have to wake up, get dressed up, hurry to a church, and be ready to lead multiple worship services, make sure in-between service activities were going smoothly, welcome visitors, and do countless of other small things to make Easter morning at a church go well.
Most pastors will tell you that while Holy Week, culminating in Easter, is the most stressful week of the year, it is also the most wonderful. I was looking forward, this year, to really getting to enjoy the week, rather than be caught up in the busyness of it. Then we ended up in France, where most church services are Catholic, and, of course, in French. So I didn't make it to any Holy Week services, though I did live vicariously through some friends online.
Yesterday morning we planned to go to the church in town (about a mile from our housesit) and attend the service that, as far as we could tell from the sign posted on the door, would be held at 10:30. So after sleeping in, we got dressed up and drove our little car to town. (We could bike easily, but I didn't want to do that all dressed up in my Easter finest.) Unfortunately, when we arrived, a kind elderly man walking by informed us that "C'est ferme!" as he gestured towards the church. Which means "it is closed." So as far as we can tell the sign we saw indicating services must have actually been telling us that a 10:30 service was being held at a church in a different town. It's too bad because this church is beautiful on the outside and I would love to see the inside.
From our housesit, we can see another church on a hill in the distance. Since we had some extra time still before 10:30 (gamely assuming that all services in the area might be at the same time) we decided to see if we could find our way to that other church. We had previously tried to get there on our bikes but ran into a dead end at a river, so we thought we might have better luck in the car.
Turns out, not so much. We couldn't find the church on Google maps so we picked a spot on the map that seemed about right. We made it to a tiny town but the church wasn't there, nor could we see it on the horizon anymore. The roads to where we were got a little rough at some points - gravel, a turn around in some mud, and a very narrow one car bridge, so we decided we had done enough adventuring for the day.
However, even if I couldn't make it to a church service in person (where, let's be honest, I would have only understood about 1% of the service anyway) I knew I could catch one online. I served at First UMC in Ames for four years, and just last year they started streaming their services online. I had watched a few when we were in Cyprus, so I knew I could get it to work here! Our internet held out well enough for it to stream, but it just wasn't quite the same as being somewhere in person, especially for Easter. I know the meaning of church isn't all about music, decorations, and buildings, but sitting on my couch in France just lacked something for me. I've connected to the Easter story in my own way, through devotion and scripture reading, but being out of the church this season has made me miss it. We shall see where God leads us in the future, but I do think the church will be a part of it!
Of course, any big holiday isn't complete without special food, so I couldn't resist making some deviled eggs for the day. True story: I was in my mid-twenties before I realized that I could eat deviled eggs any time of the year. When I was growing up we always had them on Easter and they were so associated with that holiday in my mind that it never occurred to me to eat them any other time of year. Then I married Joel, who would eat deviled eggs any day of the year, and whose family serves them on Thanksgiving, and now I eat them a lot more often. But it certainly wouldn't be a complete Easter without them!
The evening was spent chatting on the phone with my family (while they worked on making their own deviled eggs), signing up for Movie Pass for the time we will be back in the States this summer (yay!) and playing a game on our phones (that has a special Easter event happening right now - fun!). Overall it was a great day, even if it didn't quite turn out as I had hoped.
Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope it was wonderful!