Hawaiian bread was stuck in my back molars, and fruit juice stained my fingers this past Easter Sunday. It was great.
In all four services, I sat on the edge of my seat for each moment to take center stage. The children filling the holes on the cross with yellow flowers, a congregation singing "Oh, The Wonderful Cross", the choir sounding like twenty-hundred fistfuls of voices in a European cathedral, lilting Latin syllables ringing out the Lord's Prayer. Testimonies of second chances and courageous choices, "...because of the resurrection". Reminders of the first disciples, and their reactions to the empty tomb, pastoral encouragement to enter in, to "see" the scars, to hear our name, to be patient for revelation. And then, the celebration of remembrance, as we joyfully received the bread and juice while singing "Oh, Happy Day, Happy Day...You washed my sin away!". And after the Great Celebration, we stood, me on my tiptoes, for the "Hallelujah Chorus". Oh my, and oh my. It was great.
As we walked to our car around 8 that night, the sweet taste of the bread lingered, and the sticky juice stained my fingers. And I thought of what might be lingering and staining my heart and soul.
I suppose I am surprised that even in the joyous and undeniable glow of the day, there were still marks of the broken creation, bold and demanding. There were those sitting among our chairs who were still breathing the gasps of fresh grief, having recently buried loved ones. I prayed with others who wept the fresh tears of disappointment and uncertainty regarding relationships. I remembered the fresh anger of someone frustrated, and weary, doing the best they could. And I saw hints of someone's fresh rebellion, disregarding the image of God in those they have privilege of being in community with.
I fought with myself, scolding the part of me who lives in a half empty glass, yet affirming the tenderness of my heart, still able to be moved by the broken Shalom that fractures whatever kind of glass any of us live in.
I know the truth and promise of the Gospel, the complete work of the cross and resurrection. But it's sort of like watching for my peonies every year. I look at the hard ground, convinced there is no way the delicate full scented flowers could ever return through the hard and undernourished soil. But the bloom is promised, it's what peonies do. There might be scorching heat, drought, wind, pummeling rain, before the petals of the bloom peal back and expose the beauty of beauties, but the beauty will come. For now, I see pink edged green shoots that have broken the surface, and I must become expectant. As the next two months measure on, the scent will be hovering in the air, and every once in a while, I will smell it, even before the blooms appear. It is the unfamiliar yet oh so familiar scent of "what was intended".
From Colossians 1:18-20 in The Message:
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
He will save. He will love. It's what He does, it's who He is.
That's what will stick in my teeth and stain my fingers. And ring in my ears, and fill my lungs and spill from my lips in gratitude and thanksgiving.