"My prayer is that those who attend our service will not be hopeful, but hope-filled," Pastor Beebe said in a telephone interview. "The message of Easter ultimately is that life is more powerful than death, that hope is more powerful than despair, that death does not have the final say in our lives. For all these things we should be overjoyed."
To lead members of their congregation to that feeling, Pastor Beebe and his staff take an approach to Holy Week and Easter that is closer to the Episcopal approach than to the Grace Baptist or SMCC approach, with a full week of services and experiences aimed at helping people "reflect more on the meaning of Christ's resurrection and what it means for them in their lives."
"If people take the journey of Holy Week they are more likely to appreciate and feel that on Easter," Pastor Beebe said. "You've actually walked the way of Christ. I think that's more meaningful than just jumping into Easter."
Holy Week at Our Savior's Lutheran Church begins on Palm Sunday with a processional complete with palm fronds and a complete reading of the entire passion story as a congregational reading.
"We divide the parts, give different people in the congregation different parts of the story to read," Pastor Beebe said. "I let the story stand as it is. I don't preach on it. The practical side of it is, there are many people who can't come to our weekday Holy Week services, so at least they hear the whole Easter story on Palm Sunday."
Weekday services include a symbolic foot-washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday ("A lot of people are uncomfortable with washing feet, so we wash hands," Pastor Beebe said), a dramatic Good Friday presentation during which the sanctuary grows progressively darker as the crucifixion of Christ is soberly remembered and a sunrise service Easter morning at 7 a.m.
"We celebrate the resurrection with Easter hymns and scriptures," the pastor said. "Then we do an Easter breakfast and an Easter egg hunt for the children. We try to make it a joyful, happy morning for everyone."
Which all four pastors agree is just what Easter should be.