I guess that all good preachers remember their first Easter at a new church. For me, though, they all run together. That Sunrise Service where it was so cold I had to play guitar with numb fingers? Could have been Carbon Hill, could have been Reform. The time I got a phone call complaining that our Sunrise Service was a pagan celebration because we were worshiping the sun? Definitely Carbon Hill. You don’t forget something that unusual.
Plus, I have Belinda’s services in my memory, too. When was it she got the real donkey to come to church? Or was that Christmas? It all runs together.
But, I will never forget my first Easter at Aldersgate.
Sure, Coronavirus, quarantine, and all that stuff . . .
The real reason I will never forget this Easter? This is the first Easter when I have spent Lent truly pondering what is essential to my faith. Not just “ponder,” I lived it! I’ve come to realize what is absolutely necessary – while I was giving it up. That’s a first for me.
I don’t like to deny myself any pleasure. Family members have been much more into self-denial during Lent (soft drinks, sweets, etc.). I tried to add disciplines to my life, like letter writing, more scripture reading. During this season of Lent, I have been forced to give up what is most important to me.
I imagine that in 2021, someone will ask, “What did you give up for Lent last year?” Where in the world would I begin?
- Gathering weekly with my fellow believers and singing hymns and songs of praise.
- The rush of adrenaline I feel when I stand up to preach
- Hugging, shaking hands, real connection – computer screens will have to do, I guess. For now.
- HOLY COMMUNION!
Lord, let me never take those things for granted again.
I know how the disciples felt while Jesus was in the tomb. Those three days must have felt like an eternity. I don’t know how long all of my essentials will be “in the tomb,” but on the day when they spring forth anew – what an Easter that will be!
I will definitely never forget my first Easter at Aldersgate – when we all gather together once again and laugh and hug and pray live and in person!