Montgomeryville Baptist, a venerable stone church with several huge maples in front and a sprawling cemetery behind, sits proudly on the south side of Pike 309. Rumor has it George Washington once worshiped there.

For most people it is a typical evangelical Baptist church. But for me, it is special—my father was the pastor and it was there I worshiped as a teenager.

Worship from Sunday to Sunday was quite typical—a few hymns, prayers, Scripture reading, and sermon. But at least twice a year—Christmas and Easter—worship leaped out of second gear into overdrive. I remember Easter especially.

Easter was not simply a single day at Montgomeryville. It always included at least Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday itself. What made these days memorable was the style of worship. We moved out of the usual verbal communications alone to act out the events.

I have long since forgotten the sermons, but I can still remember marching with a palm in my hand, standing before the large, wooden cross, and getting up early for the open-air sunrise service before an empty tomb.

This dramatic re-enactment of the death and resurrection of Christ was done out of instinct—as though we knew Marshall McLuhan was right: “The medium is the message.” When we not only told the story but acted it out, the message took on new life.

Years later, when I began to study worship, I discovered that our acting out of the Easter events at Montgomeryville was rooted in traditions that go back to the early church. Traces of those traditions are found in the New Testament.

Easter In The Early Church

In the church of the first centuries after Christ, every Sunday was a “little Easter.” The Easter season itself (not ...

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