Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter Changes

My son Joe in the late 1990's. This picture has been in my office for years.

Yesterday was my 46th Easter. First off, the important thing to remember about Easter to me is that it is the day we Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. In the big scheme of things, that is all that really matters about the holiday. But the other aspects of Easter have really changed for me over the past 46 years.

I remember as a little boy (and there are pictures that prove it) being dressed up in a suit with short pants. I remember boiling eggs and coloring them every year. I remember hunting Easter eggs in the yard. I remember my dad's employer sponsored a big Easter egg hunt. Of course, I remember going to church and how it was always crowded on Easter Sunday. It seemed like everything had to be ramped up for Easter. Back in my childhood days, people dressed up to go to church, but that seemed to even be more true on Easter. It was the only Sunday I knew I would have to wear one of those uncomfortable suits!

Fast forward to adulthood and having children. Bringing three boys into the world and raising them has been the most rewarding aspect of my life. We made sure the boys had the opportunity to enjoy the traditional Easter egg hunts, visit and have family get-togethers, and of course attend church. I did not make them dress up excessively like I was required to do. I even saved my Easter baskets from childhood so that the boys could use the same baskets. Those times with young children at Easter are such sweet memories.

To my amazement, young boys eventually turn in to teenage boys. Suddenly, hunting Easter eggs is no longer all that cool. That was ok. That meant less work for dad to hide eggs. Of course I will miss the fun of mowing rogue Easter eggs that weren't found in the weeks following Easter. Still, times with the boys were great as they got older on Easter. It always involved a visit to my mom and dad's and a great meal prepared by my mom!

Life continues to march on. I lost my dad in 2009 and my mom in 2010. I very specifically remember the boys and I visiting my mom on her last Easter. As always she made a special meal. I remember that she took a picture of the boys and I in the backyard after we got home from church.

After losing my mom in 2010, I did something highly unusual for Easter weekend. I needed time alone to pray and think. I took the unusual step of driving to the beach by myself. It was a good time to reflect, read the Bible, and enjoy the beauty of the beach. On Easter morning I attended a community sunrise service on the beach. It was such a memorable experience, and one I am glad I had.

This year Easter was a mixed bag, er basket. The boys and I woke up around 5 and went to the sunrise service at our church. I think it was a great experience for them. After the service, we had a very nice breakfast at the church. Then it was time to take them back to their mom's. After that, I returned to my parents' house. I spent the entire day cleaning out the shed and garage. There was no mom, no dad, no special meals, Easter egg hunts, and the boys were gone. What was there was plenty of old stuff of my parents' which made me miss them even more. While all of that was going on, I thought of friends, most of whom were enjoying all of the traditional trappings of Easter Sunday. I am one that usually doesn't wallow in self-pity, but it was hard not to do that yesterday.

One of the things I found in the old shed was my childhood Easter basket, and those of the boys', complete with fake grass and a large bag of plastic eggs. That is one thing I didn't throw out! I have a feeling that I will have some grand kids who will use those one day. That is part of the beauty of Easter; hope for the future and new life! He is risen!


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Hanging on Your Every Word

Sunday morning when driving to church, as I often do when driving alone, I was thinking, praying, and listening to music. I caught the end of a song on a local Christian radio station. I don’t know what song it was, but these words stuck out to me, “hanging on every word you say”.

Immediately I thought about how there are people in my life for whom I “hang on their words”. Have you ever been texting or emailing someone and you just couldn’t wait to get their response? Have you ever had medical tests and wondered about the results? Have you interviewed for a job and couldn’t wait to see if they would offer you a position? Have you ever watched a sporting event and eagerly anticipated the outcome? Have you ever asked someone to go on a date and you wondered whether they would say ‘yes’? Have you ever taken a test and couldn’t wait to see the results? We all have times in our lives where we are “hanging on every word” someone says.

These are moments of great anticipation, sometimes accompanied by nervousness and uncertainty. Out attention is focused. We are on the alert for any clue that might tip us off to the outcome. Then I asked myself whether it is healthy or even ok, to hang on the words of others. I decided that it is ok, as long as it doesn’t lead us into anxiety, worry, or distress.

Then it struck me. As Christians, we should be hanging on to God’s every Word more than any other words. But do we? I had to examine my heart. How many times last week did I eagerly await a reply from a friend? How many times did I eagerly anticipate what God had to say, whether in church, in reading the Bible, or even as I prayed? I have to be honest. Yes, I prayed. Yes, I attended church, and yes, I read the Bible. But I didn’t always “hang on his every word” as much as I hung on the words of my friends.

As I walked in the doors of church Sunday morning, I was ready to “hang on God’s every word”. Lord help me consistently “hang on to your every Word” every day of my life.