Jan should tell this story, as she often has, but it’s my turn to tell it here in this space.
Jan was arriving at church on Easter morning, planning to enjoy the egg casserole at the youth-sponsored Easter breakfast, but at the same hour that the first Easter service was beginning. Meeting her at the door was a nervous Elder who let her know that “You have to save your husband (the minister), who is having to lead worship a cappella, since the pianist who promised to play for the first service did not show up.” True to her ready-for-just-about-anything role, Jan went into the sanctuary, picked up a hymnal and proceeded to provide piano accompaniment for the service. Very nicely.
Then came the communion service at the end of worship, when her husband placed the wafer and cup on the piano so that she could participate in communion, after she finished the piano accompaniment. Jan tried to pick up the bread—one of those very thin, whole grain, unleavened wafers—but it slipped out of her hand and fell between two center keys, and got stuck. The keys immediately ceased to play. It was at the end of the service so people had few chances to miss those missing notes.
Jan tried to get that wafer out but could not. Other people tried without success. The only remedy was to bring the rehearsal piano from the choir room behind the sanctuary into the sanctuary, after the choir had finished its warm-up for the second service. Jan recruited a few helpers to move that piano through the small vestibule between the two rooms.
The vestibule had been decorated as the empty tomb for a children’s activity which was to take place at the opening of the second worship service, within a few minutes, but the drapings and hangings of that “empty tomb,” had to be removed temporarily, to move the piano through that space. Jan proceeded to take the drapings down and she was in the process of putting them back in place, holding the last drapery up with her hand, when the children arrived to peer into the tomb.
There she was, caught in the empty tomb in her choir robe, with a score of children peering into the tomb and asking, “Who is that, and what is she doing?” Whereupon, Jan spoke the first thing that came to her mind, which was, “You come seeking Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, but he is not here. He is risen!”
The children returned to the sanctuary telling about the angel who had announced the resurrection to them, much to the surprise of the children’s worship leader who expected them to say that they had found an empty tomb.
Ad libbing, improvising, and extemporizing all the way through the drama of the resurrection story—a comedy of sorts—does it sound familiar? The original actors did not have their act together, did they? It wasn’t exactly planned out to the last detail, nor are our lives. We just have to remember a few key lines.