Despite the rain, Norma Klotz's Easter bonnet made it to church unscathed yesterday.
"I don't like the plain hats they're wearing today," said Klotz, who had carefully stowed her own decidedly not plain pink-and-white extravaganza under her unbrella as she dashed from doorstep to car and then from car to church doorstep.
At the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, Klotz heard the Rev. Laverne E. Rohrbaugh declare that the resurrection of Jesus - the event commemorated by Easter - had set the Christian faith apart from all other.
"It is the risen Christ who makes the difference," Rohrbaugh said. "If Christ is dead, if you can find His bones in some cemetery . . . then we will have nothing left but a sham."
"We have come to witness the open sepulchre, to witness the living Christ," Rohrbaugh continued. ". . . Let the living spirit dwell with us and remain with us forevermore."
Mount Vernon had close to a full house yesterday and, like other churches throughout the area, repaid its worshippers with extraordinary audio-visual splendor. A brass ensemble supplemented the usuqb al church organ, and a special "Procession of the Easter Lillies" deposited hundreds and hundreds of white lilies in a row that stretched from one side of the church to the other.
Outside, it was not the sort of Easter on which you would expect to run into Fred Astaire or Judy Garland parading up the avenue.
The day began miserably, and especially so for those who planned to celebrate any part of it outdoors. Easter egg hunts abruptly relocated from lawns to living rooms, and ambitions holiday finery was thrust back in the closet in favor of attire that was rainproof or simply not worth protecting.
If the morning was bad, the afternoon was no better. "You could safely say that this has been one of the most miserable Easters in a long time," said Harold Hess of the National Weather Service.
Despite all, the 1,250-seat National Presbysterian Church at 4101 Nebraska Ave. NW had an overflow crowd at its 11 a.m. service. Some of the overflow watched the proceedings on closed-circuit TV from rows of folding chairs set up in a meeting hall elsewhere in the complex.
Most of National Presbysterian's worhshippers were austerely dressed for Easter Sunday, and children fidgeted with stuffed animals as the Rev. Louis H. Evans Jr., delivered his sermon on the subject of "Covenants."
At the Church of the Little Flower, 5607 Massachusetts Ave. in Bethesda, a small orchestral ensemble and mixed choir performed a mostly Baroque program that included parts of Handel's "Messiah." The congregation applauded the musicians at the end of the mass.
The handshaking was particularly effusive at a number yesterday's services. Clergy and parishioners alike kept their eyes peeled for possible additions to their membership. "Everybody has got to starting thinking youth and young adult," said Ruth Delaney, head of a recruiting committee at Mount Vernon as she bounded down the aisle searching for blue jeans and beards and other signs of an up-and-coming generation.
At Camp David, meanwhile, the President and Mrs. Carter attended private Easter services conducted by an Army chaplain after rain dashed their plans to join special sunrise worship ceremonies.