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A Resurrection Sunday Guide to the Folk Who Ain’t Been to Church in a Year

By Lauren Whiteman and Lawrence Ware | @itsmewhiteman ‏+ @law_writes | with thanks to NewBlackMan (in Exile)

Sunday, April 1, 2018.

Easter—or, as the “woke” Christians call it, Resurrection Sunday—is one of the most iconic Black holidays. Not because of the deep, symbolic weight of the day, but because of the fashion.

Black folks are aesthetically creative on a regular day—yet, on Easter, everyone is a Black dandy. There will be pastel suits, white hats and reflective sunglasses, but our favorite part of Easter, without question, are the little kids in ill-fitting suits and poufy dresses...but let’s be honest.

Some of y’all will be in church Sunday who ain’t been there in a solid year—and that’s being charitable. Since that is the case, and church folks won’t be pretending otherwise, here is a quick rundown of what to expect this Sunday.

1. An Offering Every 65 Seconds

Bring singles like you’re going to a strip club because churches require money to run, and Easter is one of the biggest Sundays of the year.

2. A Marathon Worship Service

It would be wise to drink a double espresso before you leave the house. The choir is about to stunt, announcements will be at least an hour long and there will be no less than three minutes of “praise dancing” after each song. Church ’bout to be lit AF this Sunday.

3. Shade

Passah is probably going to get on the mic and take not-very-subtle shots at the folks who don’t come to service regularly. You might hear something like, “I don’t see y’all often, so I’m going to take my time with this word” or “Don’t let it be a whole year before I see you again.”

4. Horrific Parking

Like you, there will be a number of people who usually don’t go to church in the building; therefore, parking will be at a premium. Unless you want to walk over the mountains and through the woods because you had to park in Jabari Land, I suggest you get there early.

5. The Opposite of Black Girl or Boy Joy

This does not always happen in the North, but down South Easter Sunday means there will almost certainly be a black child in brightly colored clothing crying at the mic because his or her parents forced him or her to do an Easter speech. If the child is not crying, then he or she will certainly stand there looking like someone drank the last of the Hennessy White and put the bottle back without telling anyone.

The congregation will have the same facial expression when older children that are too old to struggle through their speeches get to the microphone and . . . struggle through their speeches. If you listen closely enough you’ll hear a deaconess comment “that boy too old to still be struggling. He’ll be 32 next week, chile.”

6. Rain, Cold or Both

The weather is consistently terrible on Easter. This means that the “chirren” are going to end up dirty by the end of the day. Take pictures early.

7. A Dumb Political Statement

You may need to listen to Anita Baker or Sade while meditating before church this Sunday because it is almost certain that a punch-bucket-shoe-wearing crumb cake will go on the mic and talk about how the Bible says we need to pray for our political leaders, and, therefore, we need to pray for Trump. You need to have your mind right for when that happens. Black church folk love to be political contrarians with the Bible while ignoring the fact that the prophetic homies Jeremiah and Isaiah were outchea on that truth-to-power tip.

8. A Dumb Theological Statement

Hopefully it does not come from the pulpit, but someone will put forth a theologically asinine assertion. You might hear “When the praises go up, the blessings come down” or “Make the devil mad” or “Favor ain’t fair.” All these statements are illogical theologically. The first turns the Divine into an ATM machine; the second makes no damn sense, given our finitude; and the last one is similar to how some may get on social media and say, “Let me brag on God,” and then just brag on themselves.

Yet you will hear one or all three of these statements on Sunday—mark my words. I suggest bringing a flask so you can take a shot each time you hear one. Turn it into a drinking game. Why not? After all, Jesus did turn water into wine. Just call it communion.

9. The Seven Last Sayings of Christ

Saints that do Easter services regularly know the Seven Last Sayings of Christ almost by heart. And we don’t mean the actual statements--we mean the sermon about them. (Or sermons if there was a special Good Friday service featuring associate ministers trying to out preach one another.)

Without question, there will be a sermon featuring the following conclusion: “On the first day, hah, they laid Him in the tomb. On the second day, hah, the devil thought he had won. Death thought it had Him! Ohhhhh but on the third day, hah, eaaaaarrrrly Sunday morning, hah, He rose up, with alllllll powuh.”


10. Black Love

For all the antics that accompany Easter, we should all remember that part of the reason this day packs such a cultural punch is that it was one of the few days on which slaves were able to be with family. After we were freed from that evil institution, we took to celebrating the day by showcasing black sartorial creativity. When we dress to the nines and go to church on Easter Sunday, we join those of our ancestors who were Christians (many were not) in an activity that refuses to give white supremacy the final word. That’s why we love this day—and why we continue to love the black church.


Lauren Whiteman is Coordinator for Men of Color Initiatives at the University of North Texas, USA, and a freelance writer.

Lawrence Ware is co-director of the Africana Studies Program and Teaching Assistant Professor and Diversity Coordinator in the Department of Philosophy, Oklahoma State University, USA. He is a contributing writer to Slate Magazine, The New York Times and The Root.

A Resurrection Sunday Guide to the Folk Who Ain’t Been to Church in a Year

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