For over two months, I’ve neglected to finish the story I began telling ( here are Part 1 and Part 2) and it’s been brought to my attention a number of times now… so without further ado, the final entry of this year’s Easter story:
The dreary sky only made the service itself more moving as we sat in a grass area overlooking the wistful lake and the brooding, majestic mountains framing it. It was the type of moment that couldn’t help but be special, like something from Lord of the Rings. (though truthfully, I haven’t even seen those movies yet…) Andrea opened with a scripture (though I can’t remember which one it was to save my life) and despite confessing having been nervous afterwards, showed no signs of intimidation during the actual reading. Worship was simple, yet profound. I remember Jaime singing and playing guitar while Jenelle sang and played djembe, and I think Tiffany lended them her voice as well as she helped Jaime’s sheet music from flying away and turned pages for her. We had a big crowd too, it was a solid cross-section of our community with a lot of support from Cam and Jen’s families along with a handful of people from the church that had fed us earlier coming and joining in song with us. It was especially moving when we got to a spanish part of one of the songs and I could see the faces of the people from the other face light up as they realized that they were being catered to!
I remember Randy helping lead Josiah and Diego as they went through the aisles collecting offering (giving your money to cute kids is so unimposing!) I’m not too sure, but I think that I was on right after Randy: I had been preparing a poem for a few weeks and it was finally time to unveil it after finishing it that morning. (I know, I’m such a slacker, I’m working on it though!)
Do you see the poverty?
Do you see the men under the bridge shivering on freezing evenings
Or each of the empty lots overflowing with weeds?
Have you seen the tragedy of a man leaving his family?
Children teary-eyed and wondering, “When’s dad coming back?”
Can you see his fractured promises constantly coming back empty?
When you look at this poem, can you see me?
Or perhaps you can more clearly see your own story
Broken hearted, body scarred
Shattered glass, liquid spilling fast
You’re not what you used to be.
Neither was He.
But there’s the beauty!
This is a story of Friday to Sunday
From dead to raised
The whole of human history changed in 3 days
From accounts overdrawn to every fee waived
PAID IN FULL, now humanity is saved
Like “Death, where is your victory!?”
“Grave where is your sting!?”
Even seeming crushing defeat is overcome by The KING!
The finality of death can’t stand,
But can you see me?
Can you see me where the pain doesn’t last?
Where tears are like clouds, and by sunrise they’ve passed
A place where our pain is joy, will you join me here?
Where every lie eventually dies and only truth survives
Where there’s perfect peace at the end of the fight
And dying is always followed by life
Now, it might sound like a fantasy
But I invite you to ask why can’t it be true?
I was just like you, but I’m not who I used to be
And I don’t see things the way I used to see
This is a story of change
Starting with Jesus, continuing with you and me and eventually ending with everything
We can’t change the past
but today, we can choose the future.
I was told afterwards that the poem really spoke to quite a few people. In fact, the was pretty strong response at the climax of the poem now that I think about it. Anyway, God really used it!
Then Cameron’s sermon was relatively simple but wonderfully profound, it was about trusting Jesus to meet our needs (he preached from John 21:1-13) and as he was preaching, there was an absolutely beautiful sunburst as the sky started opening up and causing the lake to sparkle brilliantly. The entire 30 minutes or so was just entirely appropriate, somehow everything fit together perfectly and his words were exactly what everyone needed to hear that that morning. We had communion and Cameron asked me to give the invitation. Jaime came back up and sang “How He Loves Us” before we closed and enjoyed a brunch potluck! That was one of the tastiest meals of my life simply because we were coming off of that 40 day fast! Conversations abounded and we all worked together to get the area cleaned up afterwards. Jaime was baptized in the Lake by Cameron and myself after the service and so was 5 year-old Diego (it was also his birthday!).
As I think back to that day, I remember that there was one thing that specifically made it powerful: Everybody had something to add. Things would have been significantly different if any one person wasn’t there. Everyone in attendance changed the service for the better. From each of the dishes and foods donated, to Tiffany’s flyers, to Cam and Jenelle’s fathers helping set up and transport chairs in their trucks, to Jesse helping us run sound, each of the ladies who gave their time to the kids during service, and the ladies serving everyone food, to each prayer offered, and song sung, everyone had something to contribute, and that stuck with me throughout that week. I’ve yet to see anything so communal since then, nothing so fresh, nothing so diverse and yet unified. Nothing more intimate.