"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faithin me." Acts 26:18

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Grace

Easter was yesterday.   What a blessed day it was!  Our family had our traditional big breakfast.  We had a wonderful Sunday school and church service focusing on the Resurrection of Christ.  We had a record attendance, I think...over 200 people!  Our church served soda and mandazi (donut like things) after the service.  After the service, the kids in Miss Sarah's reading class sang a song and her ballet class performed their dance that they had been learning.  Then we had about 35 people over for lunch: the Magalas, a couple families from our team and a few other friends.  Then we had our normal program in the afternoon for all the kids.

In the morning, as I was finishing our breakfast preparations in the dark (power had been off for more than 24 hours, our batteries were finished and it was too early to put on the noisy generator), I was remembering an Easter from a very very long time ago.

It was our first Easter as a little family having moved away from where our families were.  Eric was in Seminary and our little Timothy was just a baby, and I was pregnant with Katelyn.  For some reason (I really can't remember all the details...likely I was just trying to survive morning sickness), I had hardly given a passing thought to the fact that it was Easter.  Until I went to church.  Everyone was in their Easter finest and they were all talking about who in their extended clan was going to host dinner, what they were eating, what their plans were.  And my friend turned to me and asked, "So what are your plans for Easter dinner?"  The awful truth was, it was just PB &J at home!  Timothy didn't have any new cute clothes and there was no roast waiting in the oven.  I laugh when I think about it now!  On that day though, I remember going home in tears.  My tears were tears of loneliness and failure.

I learned two lessons that day.  First, I counted the cost, for the first time, in a very real way, of what it meant to be in ministry.  I realized that I would likely never have another Easter with our physical family.  And we haven't.  And now, we are making almost four years not even having seen most of our physical family.  There is a cost to ministry.  I have always been amazed though, at how much God has returned to us!  After that first Easter, I have never had a holiday without our Christian family around.  God has always provided so much family away from family for us!  He is so gracious to us!

Second, I realized that as a wife and a mom, I needed to be more careful to make our holidays to be true Holy Days.  I needed to be careful not to over-do the holy day in an earthly temporal way, but not to under-do it so as to loose the spiritual blessing of using one day out of the year to give my family the opportunity to particularly focus on an aspect of Christ's earthly ministry.  That particular Easter, I was guilty of the second.  God gives us days of feasting and celebration because he loves to see his people rejoicing and exalting in Him and His completed work!  It is good and noble work, as a wife and a mom, to participate in that...to help the family rejoice and celebrate!    

I love the fact that yesterday we were surrounded by so much joy.  There were people.  There was praise, there was worship, there was food, there was fellowship, there was singing!  What a great way to celebrate: Christ conquered sin and death!  He Has Done It!!!  (Ps. 22:31) We are no longer slaves, but free.  No longer having a heart of stone, but rather a heart of flesh.  No longer lonely, but set into a great big family.  No longer left to worship ourselves, but rather to worship the One who made us!  No longer left to starve, but rather allowed to feast on the Righteousness of Christ.  No longer blind, but now able to see.  What grace...

...what beautiful Easter grace...

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