Dictionary.com defines the idiom “pomp and circumstance” as “a splendid celebration with ceremony and fuss”.
This past Easter Sunday I attended an Easter Service full of pomp and circumstance at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Burlington, Ontario with my wonderful sister-in-law and her equally wonderful hubby. They are regular parishioners of that church and have been very involved with its function. Since I don’t attend church very often in my own town, I do like to go with them on special occasions.
St. Luke’s is the oldest church in Burlington having been established in 1834 and built on land given to them by Chief Joseph Brant. It is the quintessential white clapboard church with a steeple situated on a plot of land among large, ancient trees. It truly is picture postcard pretty.
Inside, the church is lined from floor to ceiling with thin wood planks that have turned to a deep, mellow, satiny, rust brown over the past 183 years. Matching wooden beams gracefully arch overhead and draw your eye upwards. The dark wood walls are graced with beautiful stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible and some church Saints. The church is also blessed with a wonderful pipe organ whose pipes are painted red, white and blue.
The ledges along the walls were decorated with lovely cyclamen plants in soft pastels and in one front corner there was a profusion of beautiful blooms in Spring colours. After the service, the pretty plants were going to be delivered to shut-ins in hopes of brightening up their day and letting them know that God loves them.
I am not used to attending a church where there is a lot of traditional ceremony involved in the service. There was a long processional with many people wearing different gowns with various colours and symbols. I think they are called vestments and clerical gowns. There was someone carrying a banner, another person carried a large brass (?) cross, some were carrying long candlesticks while others were carrying staffs of some sort and a young girl held aloft what looked like a fancy binder with Bible readings. It was all carried out very solemnly.
I was prepared to hear a somewhat staunch sermon but the Rector shared an amusing and down to earth message about the similarity between a roller coaster ride and the ups and downs of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. The youth pastor also gave a good lesson to the little ones using chocolate eggs and helium balloons with “He Is Risen” cards attached to their strings. (Unfortunately, the helium was a little tired by then and the balloons had difficulty “rising” to the occasion – lol!)
Worship was composed of older hymns, many of which I was unfamiliar with. However, as a special part of the Easter celebration, we were treated to wonderful accompaniment by a brass band. My two favourite hymns of that day were sung to the glorious ringing of a wide assortment of hand-bells brought in by the parishioners. The church rafters truly “rang” with praise for our risen Saviour!
The service was truly a “splendid celebration with ceremony and fuss” all for the glory of the Lord.
As we were leaving the church, the sun shone through the beautiful, yellow, circular stained glass window at the peak of the roof bathing us all in a shaft of golden light. It felt like God was smiling down on us from Heaven.
I find it interesting to see how other Christians choose to worship God. While its not my personal worship style, I know that many believers find comfort in a more traditional, formal style of liturgy and litany. I don’t think that “form” matters as much to God as does how we truly relate to Him and to one another.
I believe that unity in both faith and relationship is what the apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote to the church at Ephesus:
Eph 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the calling with which you are called,
Eph 4:2 with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love,
Eph 4:3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Photos courtesy of Burlington Cultural Mapping)