Monday, April 1, 2013

In the Afterglow of Easter

     This past week has been especially poignant for me, and perhaps more so because I am singing with
Branson walking on his own
the choir.  Whenever we are involved in a ministry of any type, the experience of worship deepens because we are giving ourselves away to encourage others in their faith.  This was especially true on Saturday when we visited an assisted living facility here in our community.  There were only eight or so of us including our choir director and a violinist.  We went to sing hymns of the faith for these dear people who do not often get out.  Our program lasted about half an hour or so, but I wish I could have captured the looks on the faces of those in the audience.  Many of them smiled, some clapped, and a few sang along with us.  What many do not realize is that even those with dementia can often recall the old hymns they grew up singing better than they can remember what they did five minutes ago.  In fact, we really do not know what they can and cannot remember as science hasn't been able to unlock all the secrets of the mind.
     Following our presentation, a few of us took time to go around and greet all of the wonderful residents who had come to hear us sing.  Many of them asked us to come back and tell others to come as well.  I came to bless them but they blessed me far more.  In fact, one lady shared a story with me that is worth telling.  She had worked with mentally challenged people for some time.  Many of these men she assisted could not speak or perhaps could only say a word or two.  She sang with a group that often shared hymns with these men.  One day, one of the men came up to her and motioned for the microphone.  He had not spoken at all, but she gave him the mic.  He and three other men she had been working with got up and sang from start to finish the song "He Lives".  They did not miss a note or a word and yet these men had not spoken.  She said it was something like a miracle.  This is why I say we do not know anyone's capability and often, we underestimate what God can do that we cannot.
     As I reflect on this Saturday of blessing before Easter,  I was touched with unspeakable joy when I saw of picture on Facebook of our first grandchild who is now able to walk on his own.  Why is this surprising?  He is a special needs child with a rare brain anomaly.  Doctors don't really know all he will be capable of doing.  However, as a family, we see him as a special, priceless gift of God.  He is a gift that we unwrap a little more each day.  His laughter, his few words he can speak, his playfulness with us and his brothers are all a blessing from God.  His parents and therapists have worked long and hard to help him reach this moment of achievement, and in his face, it was evident that he was happy that he could move around on his own.  If this isn't Easter what is?
     Jesus rose from the grave on Easter not only to set us free from the bondage of sin and death, but also, to make us Easter people.  A people that will go out and proclaim the Good News of our Savior to everyone we meet.  We are His hands and feet to people in assisted living facilities, to the handicapped, to the orphan and to those in need in our community.  James 1:27 says it well:  "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:  'to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."  That is a tall order isn't it?  Especially the portion of the verse that tells us to keep ourselves unstained from the world.
     In Matthew 25 :31-46, Jesus tells the story of the day of judgment when the sheep and the goats will be separated.  Verse 40 gives a clear picture of the results of Christian conduct (I encourage you to read this whole passage):  "And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"  Each time we give ourselves away to bless others with no thought of reward, we are serving Christ and acting as His hands and feet.  God sees the intent of our hearts and our true motives in all we think, say and do.  Therefore, our challenge is to live out Easter all the time.
     Carrying songs to the assisted living facility did not take much time, but it brought much joy.  Likewise, I cannot thank enough all those who have spent countless hours helping our Branson to reach this time in his life when he can walk.  It is a process we take for granted.  Perhaps, we can be that special person, who in love, can touch a life, hold someones hand when they are down, pray with another, or most importantly, share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For me, Easter was richer this year than ever before.  More than ever, I want to carry on that victory message we received yesterday.  He has overcome the world and sends us out in His power to do the same!  May we be Easter people every day throughout the year!  Selah!


Patricia Hunter said...

Praise God!!!! So thrilled to see Branson walking, and I suspect this afterglow will shine for a long time. xox

Barbara Thayer said...

Indeed it will Pat. Seeing God at work so visibly in so many ways moves our hearts in gratefulness! Hope you are feeling better fast!