More Than Serving Tea


On Easter Many Women Were There

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:5-10 NIV)

I am still 300 miles from home. It’s strange not being in church, at church, in the building on Easter Sunday. Spring break collided with Holy Week and desires to create gilded family road trip memories. Oh, and figuring out how to motivate our high school junior in her college search by combining campus visits with a trip to the beach means I am typing this in the car. Somewhere in Indiana.

But this morning the story of Jesus’ resurrection won’t let me go. Many women had been there at the cross, even when many of the 12 men with names had fled. The women came to care for Jesus’ needs. Even in the ugliest death, under dangerous circumstances they chose to be at Christ’s feet to serve.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were compelled to do what needed to be done. They went to the tomb to look, and instead they were greeted by a violent earthquake. The guards became like dead men, but despite their fear the women stayed.

They went looking for Jesus. Jesus in the tomb? Jesus the risen Lord? Fear and hope.

And then twice the two women, Mary and Mary, are told by the angel and then Jesus: Do not be afraid. Go and tell the disciples, the men with names who will write scripture down, tell the the Good News! Share. Testify. Tell. With Christ’s blessing. Preach the incredible news the Jesus is not dead in the tomb but risen!

And then what do these newly appointed and annointed women/missionaries/preachers/evangelists/disciples do?
When they see Jesus they approach him, clasp his feet and worship.

And then they go.

Few of my sisters will be the ones ‘officially’ preaching this Easter Sunday. Bound by rules, culture, expectations, and fear. I am reminded this Easter Sunday to not be afraid. There is a holy and blessed place for me and my sisters, unnamed and often invisible. Jesus, risen from the dead, chose to first reveal the absolute reality of his resurrection to my sisters.

Do not be afraid.

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Impatiently Waiting for the Good News of Easter

The day between death and life and defeat and victory is a long one. I am impatient. I cannot wait. I do not like sitting and waiting. I want to move. I want answers.

Good Friday and what Jesus accomplished on the cross doesn’t become Good News until I’ve sat through Friday and Saturday. Until I’ve allowed myself to taste the anguish and utter devastation of losing and loss, of death, of fear. I’ve come as close as a mother ever wants to that kind of anguish, of losing her son while clinging to the tiniest hope that all is not lost forever. No, my son is no Jesus nor is he a savior, but I remember and can still feel that loss and grief and fear and hopelessness wash over me as I picture a curtain not tearing in two but separating us from the flurry of doctors and equipment.

And then there was the waiting. The in between I find myself sitting in now. The initial shock and reminders are over, and I wait. There is a way to mark Friday and Sunday but what about the in between? Waiting for Easter and the little boys and girls in their Holy Sunday finest (that is not the fight I chose to fight with my now not so little ones) because it is new and exciting and hopeful and in so many ways easier for me than to sit here on Saturday night. Waiting.

There are only a few minutes left of this day, and it is finally time to sit and wait and prepare my heart again. I’m thinking of friends who are waiting and hoping for God to make all things new because the brokenness of Good Friday in our daily lives is almost too much to bear. I remember sitting and keeping watch over my son as he lay in a drug-induced coma thinking I was either going to have to prepare for his burial, just like the women did so early that morning, or find that this time around death would not have victory, just like the women did so early that morning.

I am so impatient. Just a few more minutes.


From Death to Life Through the Elias’ Eyes

Last Sunday Elias came out of Children’s Church with a tombstone. It was supposed to be a replica of the stone that covered Jesus’ tomb, and on the stone the children were supposed to write what they were thankful for this Easter.

My heart nearly skipped a beat when I saw what Elias had written:

“Getting through two seizures in one day”

Where is the innocent thankfulness for chocolate eggs?

To add to my shock, Elias added a drawing after the incomplete sentence – a smiley face, a circle that he had colored in which looked like an exaggerated dot or period, and then another smiley face.

Someday I will explain to him how amazingly accurate his picture story was…It was a beautiful Tuesday in June four years ago – a friend took some amazing photographs of Elias smiling and playing in the open fields at Cedar Campus. By Wednesday, Elias had literally gone dark – just like the circle he had colored in – clinging to life, intubated, on a ventilator with nothing for us to do but pray and cry. Two hospitals, a team of doctors and specialists, a battery of tests and we still had no answers. There was nothing to do but wait. By Thursday morning, Elias was back to smiling though still regaining his fine and gross motor skills.

It was nothing short of a miracle. And for that miracle we are thankful.

Smiley face. Dark circle. Smiley face.

For some reason, the pattern makes me think of Good Friday. Holy Saturday. Resurrection Sunday.

I can smile on Good Friday because I know how the story ends, just like I can smile now because I know how that week in June ended for Elias. I know that in the midst of Christ’s suffering there remains the shadow of hope that grows and groans.

But as we wait to celebrate Easter, there is the dot – a pause button, if you will, filled and empty with silence, stillness, grief, waiting, and certainty because once again we know how the story ends, just like there was certainty for me in the hospital and the life flight to Ann Arbor and in the PICU even if in that moment we didn’t know how the short-term would end. Certainly God was with me and with Elias and with Peter and our other two children and our friend Andrea and her two children who traveled with Peter while I flew with Elias. I was and remain certain of it. Certainly God is in the silence and in the in between.

And I smile this morning having been greeted by Elias’ smile and signature, “Oh, Mom!” He doesn’t remember the seizures or the emergency medical flight to Ann Arbor. He doesn’t remember the spinal tap, the multiple scans of his brain and body. He doesn’t remember so much because his life had momentarily gone dark, just like that circle he had colored in. He remembers to be thankful and he really lives life like a celebration.

This Easter I have been reminded by my youngest child to be thankful for the smiles and everything in between. Even the circles that have been colored in with darkness because I am certain.

He is risen. Indeed.


Move Over Santa. The Bunny Has Arrived.

As if Christmas in December and Christmas in July isn’t enough (though I don’t really know anyone who celebrates Christmas in July) we now have Christmas in the spring. Apparently it’s called Easter. Watch out Santa. There’s a target on your back and a bunny armed with eggs. You better hope they’re of the chocolate kind.

I’ve been reading my share of Lenten devotionals and posts from friends and favorite bloggers about the observation of Lent, fasting and feasting, but it was Sunday’s article and the increasingly larger Easter/”Spring” display at various stores that caught my eye.

Apparently the Easter Bunny is gaining popularity in the malls. It isn’t enough to take your kids dressed up in their holiday best to the mall to sit on some strange man’s lap, sorry, I mean Santa’s lap. Now you can do it with a different color palette and a big, giant bunny rabbit. Do you think they cry less for the bunny?

As a parent, this whole Easter basket turned bigger first hit my radar before my youngest was even born. A very kind neighbor dropped of a huge Easter basket for my two kids. It was taller than my son was at the time, and maybe I’m exaggerating, but it was big and full of candy and little toys.

On some level we deserve this. Peter and I lied to our kids and played along with Santa. For the record Santa gives one little gift and Mom & Dad give the other gifts and fill the stockings. And we told them about the Tooth Fairy. Apparently some Tooth Fairies give out $5s and $10s. Not here. $1 even if they pull the tooth out on their own. That actually happens quite a bit here.

Now my parents over time adopted what we knew as “American” traditions, including the tooth fairy, celebrating our Sweet 16th and “golden” birthdays, and the gift of a small treat of Easter chocolate and jelly beans in a small basket with plastic grass that disappeared and then reappeared most years. The point is that the basket of chocolate eggs and the Sweet 16 party were the same for me and my parents – American traditions not Christian traditions.

Anyway, about two years ago one of the kids came home to ask if the Easter bunny was going to leave them a gift just like their some of his friends’ Easter bunny does. The boys’ playmates would talk about what they were hoping to get on Easter, and each year what I see in the stores sets the pace – bigger displays and advertisements in the Sunday paper about Easter baskets and toys for Easter.

So I suppose it was only time before the bunny came a hopping for a piece of our consumer pie. Right? But is it right? Does it matter? How many more holidays – religious, pagan, religious made pagan and vice versa and simply made up become all about creating memories and buying stuff for our kids or for one another? How have you or where have you drawn the line in terms of Santa and the Easter Bunny?

I’ll write more later on why the Easter Bunny and the Christmas tree are important in our understanding of culture and a Western/American Christianity…I know you’re at the edge of your seats…