The whole Easter weekend was wonderful! I hope it was for you as well. Liz and the children came home Thursday night and each child seemed to have grown several inches in the few days they had been gone. Jake had learned a new song on his guitar--not just chords; all of "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." Sarah was excited to have a friend visiting from Kansas spend the night. Drew had a new guitar that played its own tune. Meredith ran from her room to the den and back again, happy to see her toys--and her daddy. Elisa smiled and we all smiled right back at her. We had stopped just to say hello after going to the Maundy Thursday service. Have I told you how good it is to be so close? Perfection would be being just as close to Marty and her family!
The Maundy Thursday service was simple: Scripture, hymns, choir selections. But it was a service of darkness and as candles were extinguished during the service, the lights in the sanctuary were dimmed until at the end only soft lights reflected on the organ pipes. The cross and the communion table were draped in black and the organ played "Were You There?" I have never particularly cared for that song, but sitting there in the darkness, listening to the plaintive melody, the question was penetrating and deeply personal. Yes, I was there. It is for me He died.
Friday was spent crossing all the "t's" and dotting all the "i's" on our income tax papers. Wouldn't you know there would be one document missing? So, instead of hunting Easter eggs, we've been hunting that all important document. I finally discovered it this morning. Tom has not lost his sense of detail and has spent a great deal of time working on files, putting things in order. He just has trouble remembering where he puts the files. Thankfully, forty plus years of togetherness help us know, at least partially, how the other one thinks.
Saturday was bright and sunny, a perfect day for being outside--except for the surprising cold air that moved in late in the afternoon. It came about the time the children got here on their scooters to play in the yard while their dad cooked pork for Sunday dinner and hamburgers for supper on the grill. (I challenge you to diagram that sentence.) Sunday services were crowded as they usually are on Easter. We ended up sitting in the balcony and even then couldn't fit the whole family on one pew.
As I sat in church I thought of Easters past. I remembered having real bunnies in our baskets when I was a pre-schooler. There were thoughts of brand new white shoes, not broken in, pinching my feet. (Of course, you had to be mindful of the rule: never white before Easter or after Labor Day.) I remembered sunrise services in the cemetary when I was a teenager. I visualized two particular crosses at Fair Oaks: one about a foot tall and made completely of nails on a table in the narthex and the other, the most beautiful I have ever seen. During Lent it stands in the front of the sanctuary, stark, a vivid reminder of its cruel punishment. It's draped on Maundy Thursday, but on Easter Sunday it is alive, covered with magnolia leaves and fresh calla lilies. Not only is it a sight to behold, the symbolism is powerful.
During the sermon I also thought of a minister commenting about the difficulty of preparing a fresh Easter sermon year after year. I wondered if our minister here would make the same comment. As he preached an image of a flower bud came to me. When we first hear the Easter message our minds/hearts are much like a bud, but as we hear the message over and over our minds open, grasp its meaning more and more. It is a message that never grows old and its meaning grows with us as we grow spiritually. The bud in my mind continues to open with understanding and I'm grateful for all of those who have nurtured it with the Easter message year after year. One day it will be fully open when I see the risen Lord face to face.
Mary was at the tomb that first Easter and mourned because she thought the body of Jesus had been stolen. Imagine her surprise when she heard His voice speaking to her! Imagine her saying, "I have seen the Lord!" She could not keep it to herself and she ran to tell others. May we all take a lesson from Mary! Does it make a difference that we have seen Him too? If so, run and tell others.