Another Easter in Time of Crisis

The celebration of Easter 2020 at St. Andrew’s will not be “normal.” In fact, it will be the most abnormal Easter celebration in St. Andrew’s 179-year history. But a close runner-up was the Easter of 103 years earlier, although for very different reasons.

Easter of 1917, which fell on April 8 th of that year, was for St. Andrew’s a strange combination of the spiritually joyful and the patriotically fervid. Added to the joy inherent in the celebration of Christ’s resurrection was the fact that it was the inaugural service of the “new” St. Andrew’s, the structure whose construction had begun the previous year and in which we worship today. It was also held two days after the United States had formally entered World War I with a declaration of war on Germany, an event that would have a profound impact on our society.

An article in the Edwardsville Intelligencer captured both qualities. American flags flanked the entrance to the church and another adorned the new (and present) altar, a gift of parishioner L.D. Lawnin, vice-president of the N.O. Nelson Manufacturing Company and his brother, A.W. Lawnin in memory of their mother, Ariadne. The homily preached by the Rev. Willis M. Cleaveland combined the joy of the Resurrection with the hope, forlorn as it turned out to be, that the United States, through its involvement in the war, might serve as God’s instrument for the establishment of world peace.

The 1917 Easter service was attended by an estimated 200 worshippers. This year’s celebration will be very different physically but, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Fr. Ben’s guidance, and technology unimagined in 1917, it can be richer spiritually if we open ourselves to it.
-Jim Weingartner