Tag Archives: Easter

Melanie Walk: Guilt and Resurrection

1 John 3:18-24 (The Message)

18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

I have a confession. We dyed Easter eggs on the Tuesday after Easter.

I tried to comfort myself by remembering that the Easter season is actually fifty days long on the church calendar, but that was little help. I did manage to gather a pinwheel, a bubble wand, and a coloring book late Saturday night to pass for an Easter basket. Easter Sunday lunch was pancakes and bacon—delicious, but not traditional.

As a Pastor of Music and Worship, my days leading up to Easter Sunday are very full, allowing little time for planning and carrying out holiday traditions. At least, it feels that way to me. I have to admit, scrolling through Facebook and seeing some of the things my amazing friends put together for their little ones left me feeling guilty. I was especially guilt-ridden to see many of my minister friends, just as involved in Holy Week services as I, do some really thoughtful and involved things to make the day memorable and fun for their children.

Many of my fondest memories of childhood are wrapped up in holiday family traditions. My grandmother was especially good at creating meaningful and fun holiday experiences. Unfortunately, I did not inherit any gifts related to coming up with, planning, or carrying out crafty or magical traditions! I’m just not wired that way.

It doesn’t take great spiritual maturity to know that those things are just good fun and not essential (or even related) to helping our children understand the resurrection. Still, I felt guilty on Easter for not being that kind of mother.

The truth is, I feel guilty most of the time about anything and everything. When I’m at work long hours, I worry I’m not being a good mother. When I take time to be with my family, I worry I’m not being a good minister. I constantly feel guilt about not being a good friend.

I waste a lot of time feeling guilty. Guilt is like a quiet unwelcome companion. Sometimes it is so much a part of my life that I don’t notice it or the damage it does.

So, when searching the lectionary texts for inspiration as I was beginning to write, verses 20 and 21 of the 1 John passage jumped out at me. It was as if Jesus was reminding me that a guilt ridden life is not what he wants for me. Guilt keeps me from being who he wants me to be. In fact, the very good news of the gospel is that Jesus came to save us from being guilty!

On Easter Sunday, our sweet little boy sat in worship with his daddy as I led our choir to sing I Know that My Redeemer Liveth and Hallelujah from Messiah. He heard the congregation sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today and Crown Him with Many Crowns. He heard us all say together, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!”

My husband is in the process of becoming ordained as an Anglican priest. We were able to be together on Easter Sunday at the church I serve because while his church does have Easter Sunday morning worship, their biggest resurrection celebration happens during Easter Vigil on Saturday night.

During that time of worship, everyone gets a bell to ring when Christ’s resurrection is proclaimed. I was moved to tears as we sang “Alleluia!” over and over again as we all joyfully rang our bells together. Both times of worship were so meaningful for us as a family as we celebrated the good news and as we watched Elijah take it all in.

As I focus on what we did to celebrate the resurrection rather than what we did not do, I can’t find guilt anywhere. As I think about shouting and singing “Alleluia!” with my family, all I see is the joy and hope of the resurrection.

Guilt cowers and runs away when faced with the power of the resurrection. Thanks be to God!

I imagine I am not alone in having guilt as my quiet unwelcome companion. My prayer is that we who struggle with guilt can open our hands to let it go and open our hearts to receive the grace and love God offers us so lavish and free.

For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!

Melanie head shot

Melanie Walk has served as a music minister, chaplain, and divinity school admission associate. She currently serves as the Interim Pastor of Music and Worship at Lafayette Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC. Melanie’s husband is becoming an Anglican priest. They have a 2 year old son who spends his time spreading joy and being cute.

Rev. Dr. Courtney Pace Lyons: “We Are Dancing Still.”


Easter has a strange rhythm for me. As a child, I looked forward to wearing a new dress to worship and an egg hunt in the backyard. As a believer, I came to appreciate the deeper meaning of Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection and our salvation. As a minister, I looked forward to worshiping with my congregation, planning special performances, and proclaiming the good news that Christ is risen. Though I wished I could be with my family on Easter morning, I cherished the rare opportunities my congregants had to worship with theirs.

This is my fourth Easter as a mother. My son was just a few months old for his first Easter, dressed in the most adorable blue gingham outfit, a gift from Pam Durso. That was my last Sunday at a church where I had been ministering for three years, a strange experience of loss and newness at Easter.

My family came to celebrate Easter with us the next year as well, and after a busy morning of leading worship, I treasured watching my son in his first egg hunt. He was delighted at the first egg he found. He studied it, showed it off to me and his grandparents, and would not put it down. I had to point to several other eggs before he caught on that there were many eggs to be hunted.

My son’s third Easter, I preached my first Easter morning sermon. My parents and grandmother came to hear me preach, and we enjoyed a special lunch at a nice restaurant in town after church. I remember my grandmother ordered cheesecake as her lunch, and I loved her for seizing the day. But it was also my first Easter divorced, and our visitation schedule worked out that my son was with his dad. It was the first time I remember Easter feeling unresolved.

This year, my son’s fourth Easter, was a blend of my childhood and our new life together. We attended church together, the first opportunity we have ever had to do so where I did not have a responsibility in the worship service. Then we joined my family for a meal in the house where I grew up, and Stanley hunted eggs in my old backyard. Even as we are beginning a new tradition for our family of two, I was able to share some of my childhood Easter memories with him. These bones shall live.

As I have pondered the rhythm of Lent, into Easter Sunday, and how this fits in the larger flow of the year, I feel a little off beat. For more than a year, life felt like one long journey of suffering on the way to more suffering, like Good Friday with no Sunday. There were good days and incarnational people, don’t get me wrong. But if you have ever gone through a season of grief, you know that it doesn’t always wrap up neatly for holidays. You sing and dance, but from the depth of your sorrow instead of elation. And sometimes when you sing and dance, you feel a majestic, unshakeable joy rising up within you, shooting out through your limbs, reminding you that the God in whom you hope has been and will continue to be faithful. And sometimes when you sing and dance, you feel nothing, but decide to keep hoping anyway.

Palm Sunday of last year was our first Sunday at what has become our new church home. “Hosanna, Hosanna, he comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, Hosanna, he comes in the name of the lord,” we sang as the children waved palm branches around the sanctuary. This year, my mother and grandmother came with us for Palm Sunday, and we sang “Hosanna” as the children waved palm branches. I realized, as my son and I walked hand in hand around the sanctuary waving and singing together, how far we have come this year. The weight of my grief has been cast off, and I have been made new. If last year was the journey to Jerusalem, this year has been the deliriously ecstatic sprint from the empty tomb to proclaim the good news that He is Risen! As I remember Christ’s resurrection, I feel my own. These bones shall live!

In our church bulletin on Palm Sunday, I saw a quote from Ann Weems: “Our hosannas sung, our palms waved, let us go with passion into this week. It is a time for preparation…each of us must stand beneath the tree and watch the dying if we are to be there when the stone is rolled away. The only road to Easter morning is through the unrelenting shadows of that Friday. Only then will the alleluias be sung; only then will the dancing begin.” My journey of unrelenting shadows had led me to Easter morning, and there would be singing and dancing. And this time around, I sang and danced with elation Christ has risen from the grave, and my heart was so full of joy and hope that I had to sing and dance about it! Alleluia!

Jan Richardson writes: “In the years to come I will learn how necessary it is to keep dancing, how celebration is not a luxury but a staple of life, how in the grimmest moments I will need to take myself down to the closest festival at hand. It will not do to drown my sorrow or to mask my despair or to ignore the real suffering of the world or of my own self. I will go to beat out the message with my feet that in the darkness we are dancing, and while we are weeping we are dancing; sending shock waves with our feet to the other side of the world, we are dancing still” (from Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas).  

We have all experienced suffering or loss of some kind, and some of us have even hit the bottom of the barrel and been reborn from our own ashes. Thanks be to God that suffering and loss are not infinite. Thanks be to God that out of broken earth, flowers burst forth. Thanks be to God that dead bones live.

This Easter, whether you are in a season of mourning or celebrating, whether your heart is heavy-laden or fancy-free, whether you feel like an abandoned and hopeless disciple or witness to the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God around you, may you know the height and depth and width and breadth of Christ’s love for you. May your life be rich with dancing and singing, even if the best you can do is sing slightly out of tune and dance off pace. As you move to the rhythm of the music, celebrating the good news that Christ is Risen and death has been defeated, may you feel the resurrecting power of Christ in you and around you and through you. These bones shall live, indeed! Alleluia!

Rev. Dr. Courtney Pace Lyons is the proud mother of Stanley. She currently serves as Assistant Director of Student Success and Instructor of Religion at Baylor University. She holds an Honors B.S. in Computer Science Engineering from University of Texas at Arlington, an M.Div. from George W. Truett Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Church History from Baylor University. She is a member of Equity for Women in the Church and worships with her church family at Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, TX. She and her son Stanley love to take walks, read stories, and ice skate together.