The Sunday night Lenten service was in a small country church that has been in the same place since 1800. The building is plain and square, with white clapboards and a tin roof, two front doors leading directly into the sanctuary from the porch. The pews are wide boards joined at the perpendicular, with the blessing of cushions, but even so requiring us to sit up straight. We joined the generations of faithful to worship and pray and hear the Word. And we sang old gospel hymns, the songs that people there know by heart, the songs that lie deep in memory, accompanying the joys and sorrows of life. And then someone requested “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone.” It was a favorite of a woman who attended these services for years and years until her death, when her obituary made special note of her favorite hymn. We always sang the hymn when she was present, and I’m sure they sang it at her funeral. But….our mother would rather sing just about anything else. So she leaned over the pew to my sister and said, “Oh no. But she’s dead.” And my sister replied, “Well, there’s another one of them.” And that set us off the way something would strike us as funny in church when we were children. We shook with silent laughter until there were tears in our eyes and did not get ourselves under control until the very end of the last verse.
The sermon was strong and good, the prayers embraced us all, the food and fellowship afterward were lovely, and the almost-sacrilegious laughter shared with my sister was sweet and pure.