Blessed are the meek,” said Jesus, “for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Perhaps Christians these days believe this, but they certainly don’t act as if they do. Much church life is anything but meek. We seem often to have lost sight of the essential meaning of Christ’s teaching as we go about our way of setting forward the best interests of Christ’s Church as we see them.

This was impressed on me when I came to southern California in time for Easter and saw something of the way the central festival of the Christian year was celebrated. It sometimes seems as though we who name the name of Christ are determined to outdo everyone else who names that name, even if in the process we accomplish something that has little or nothing to do with the Christian way.

For example, one service in these parts was billed as “the highest service in the southland” (it was on top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway at an elevation of 8,516 feet; reduced fares on the tram were another inducement). The lowest service was announced as being on a pier, just a few feet above the Pacific Ocean.

Combined choirs were often presented as an added attraction, and I was interested in the combination of the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club and the Southern California Mormon Choir. Trumpets were blown everywhere, and sometimes “massed trumpets.” One service was billed to start at 5:14 A.M. because that was “the exact moment of sunrise.” Another was to reach its climax with the release of helium-filled balloons bearing “messages of hope and joy.” Yet another featured a twelve-foot red, white, and blue neon cross.

Perhaps the prize should go to the enterprising souls who organized a sunrise service on horseback, with prizes for the best Easter bonnet—worn ...

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