Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

>> He has risen.
>> He has risen indeed!

These are the words I am usually greeted with around 6:30am on Easter Sunday morning. Today I made my first visit to church in Singapore.  I woke up late, forgot my bus/train card and it was raining.  So I wasn't sure I would get there.  But God must have really wanted me to go because a taxi came by at just the last minute (during rain it can be very difficult to hail a cab).

I had scoped out the Queenstown Lutheran Church before and walked by there on Friday so I knew where I would be going - which was very helpful in telling the taxi driver where to go.  It's not a large church, two sets of pews with an aisle down the middle.  There are two services - English Ministry at 9am and Chinese Ministry at 11:15am.  I went to the Engish service and it wasn't packed, but still a lot of people.  The bulletin said 195 people where there last week.  I'm guessing around 200 people there today. 

For the most part, the service was similar to home.  The singing was a little more contemporary than I like (guitars with clapping and uplifted arms) and instead of printed bulletins, the service is projected abve the altar as you can see in the picture. 

Some other different items:
1) They had six people (young adults/adults) baptized on Easter.  Made for a longer than usual service (~1hr 45 min). 
2) Communion was a never-ending round table.  People knelt around the alter which is a big square and as someone left, you replaced them in line.  Paster just kept going in circles, or squares. 
3) Offering seemed very secretive.  In Singapore, each bill is a different color.  It didn't look like they used offering envelops, so it is very easy to see how much someone is donating - can't fold up a bill and mistake a green five for a red ten. So everyone kept their money tightly wadded up in their fists before dropping into the sack. 
4) I was one of 8 white people at the service of ~200.  Living here is a good lesson on being a minority. 
5) Before the offering of peace, Pastor asks if there are any visitors or new people.  Clearly I was new, so I raised my hand.  He came over with this huge orange microphone and I had to introduce myself, my name, I'm from the U.S. and am living in Singapore for 3 years.  Offering peace already makes me uncomfortable enough, this was icing on the cake.

Easter service was good though.  Didn't seem like the service was too much bigger or more of a celebration than normal.  Although Pastor did write a new song (to an old tune) which was kinda neat, "Jesus Puts Me at the Top of the World". It was sung to ... I'm on the top of the world; Looking down on creation ...
On my way out, Pastor's wife (Persis I think), introduced herself, tried to figure out my story and hoped to see me again.  She was very nice. 

At 11:15, an English Ministry group was meeting to distribute bread.  I figured this had something to do with communion, but I think they were actually going to hand out bread to all the nearby high-rises (HDBs).  Seemed like a very nice gesture on Easter.  Next time I'll get some pics of the outside of the church and the surrounding neighborhood.

Good Friday is a public holiday in Singapore (and even India I found out).  People were surprised to find it is not a standard holiday in the U.S.  I don't know if the Easter Bunny comes to Singapore.  I haven't heard much about him.  But I have seen in the grocery stores (those targeted more towards Western taste buds) Easter candy and some baskets, eggs, etc. 

I hope everyone has a very Happy Easter!!

**I found my California milk today and bought 3 quarts!!  Now it's time for a big bowl of Cheerios!!

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