Two years ago I penned a set of instructions to help my fellow heathens in their annual trip to church on Easter Sunday. Some heeded the advice. Others did not. And since that time, some other issues have come to light that should be addressed before the holy holiday this year on April 24 (if you're pulling this article up on your smartphone, pay attention!).
First of all, remember that the holiday is meant to be holy, although secular interpretations have almost taken over the observance of Christ's death and resurrection here in the U.S. This holiday celebrates the most sacred foundation of the Christian faith, and that is the reason we celebrate.
Observe PPT (Prompt People's Time)
If you are going to church on Easter (preferably before your family Easter-egg hunt and brunch), be on time. Most churches will post the times each service starts on the sign out front, so there's no excuse for you being late again this year.
Watch the Feet
If you are late, please, do not go to the most crowded pew. Find one that is open or go to the balcony. Never, ever, step on a person's church shoes on Easter. Either the shoes are new or they are hurting the feet. In any case, no one needs to have your feet on top of theirs.
Welcome to Crown Heights (Rules)
Mind the hats, too — your own hat, as well as the hat of the woman who just plopped down $300 for an original feathered diddy for the day. If you have a large hat, try sitting in a corner next to the wall so as not to block the view of those who want to see something other than your brim.
I know you may have bought the hat to turn heads on Easter, but if it is the size of a sombrero, no one will miss seeing you, no matter where you sit. Likewise, if you happen to sit behind someone with a big hat, be courteous and patient. Forget that it is blocking your view and you can't see the preacher, the choir or the cross. It's the spirit that counts, not the view.
Just Listen to the Music, OK?
The music played in some churches today is not the same as your mother's Easter music. Sure, there will be many church choirs singing, "He would not come down from the cross," or "Nothing but the blood of Jesus." But in an attempt to be more relevant, some churches will have praise and worship with a full band, and others will have hip-hop going, with singers in the aisles. However, that's not an invitation to drop it like it's hot.
Show Up Morning Fresh
Speaking of the club, don't wear the same jacket you wore for Saturday-night partying to Easter Sunday praising. There's nothing worse than sitting in a crowded church smushed up next to someone who looks like Sunday morning but smells like wine, reefer and All Night Long. By the way, most churches don't have ashtrays, and they haven't taken Tyler Perry's suggestion of starting a smoking section, so put your cigarette out before going inside.
Stop — It's Not All About Hue
Easter is the biggest spring holiday — the first chance to shed some of the dull colors and brighten the day with pastels. Children, their mommas and some of their daddies, too, will break out the bright oranges, purples, yellows and blues. Just remember that those colors work best for clothes and Easter eggs. You don't have to turn your weave into a rainbow or a bag of Easter Skittles.
Come Wired Only for Jesus
Almost everyone now has cell phones, smartphones, iPods, iPads and Bluetooth headsets. But do us all a favor. Before going in the church, take off your earpiece. You don't need Bluetooth to talk to Jesus, although the saints of old often spoke of having a telephone in their bosom to call on the Lord.
If you have an iPod, iPhone or other smart device in hand while church is in progress, use it only for church-related activities, like reading the Bible from your newest app. Don't sit in church playing Tetris or popping bubbles. There should be enough going on in the Lord's House to occupy even the mind of a heathen.
Put It All in Perspective
Remember, church will only last a couple of hours, and as a heathen, you won't be back anytime soon once the benediction is done. Whatever you do, enjoy the day, fellowshipping with friends and family.
Denise Stewart is a reformed heathen, church choir member and freelance writer in Alabama.