Redemption in Five Minutes

Posted on April 25, 2011

At a thoroughly typical suburban congregation yesterday, the Easter homily was notable only for its truncated length. The priest’s decision to limit his commentary to under five minutes, I deduced, was occasioned purely by logistical concerns: with the number of parishioners in attendance at approximately double the weekly average, twice as many people would be lining up to receive Communion, and a substantially extended Eucharist-distribution segment became necessary. Consequentially, the only way to get everyone out of there within the putatively allotted hour-plus-ten minute-grace-period is to shave time off regular liturgical functions, with the homily taking the brunt of the sacrifice.

“This is what it’s all about,” the priest told us of Easter’s significance in Christianity, without any inflection that would give credence to the proclamation. “We are all people of the Resurrection.” Spoken over an uninterrupted hum of toddlers squealing and people stomping up and down the stairs to the overflow balcony, I wondered how many present that morning were truly appreciative of the enormous message he relayed. That to rescue a fallen mankind, God had begotten a son 2,000 years ago, a son who was killed and resurrected and walked the Earth before ascending into heaven, where his reign is everlasting. Through him, so it goes, our sins can be forgiven. And this is the basis for the church in which we now sit.

For one, more than five minutes worth of explanation would’ve been helpful to elucidate these concepts. Had I the capacity believe in them with the fullness of my being, to believe that yesterday we were gathered to commemorate an event which made possible the final redemption of humanity, then I cannot imagine this service would’ve stirred my reverential awe. I instead would have pined for how insufferably routine the news of our salvation had become; how its profundity had been crudely abandoned for the sake of time management.

The faithful eventually retreat to their SUVs, passing a woman at the church exit who holds out donation envelopes and candy eggs. See you on Christmas, they might as well say.

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