On this quiet Easter morning in South Africa, I’m very aware that I’m on the other side of the world than most of the other Easter mornings I’ve celebrated. It’s a crisp, but warm, fall morning. The birds outside my open windows are the ones dressed in their Sunday best and singing creation’s songs. There’s no church today, and I plan on finishing deep-cleaning the cottage, maybe while listening to an Easter podcast, and having a meal with some friends.
There’s still something awe-inspiring about today though. Even if the congregation is just an iPod, a mop and myself.
Today, together, one time zone at a time, the Church will rise, sing, praise, and give thanks for the God who entered time and gave us eternity in a weekend.
That’s the Church I’m a part of.
And, Church, today, as we sing completion, redemption, revelation songs, I find myself in the middle of a lot of stories, with pieces of my heart being stretched almost too thin as it gropes to stretch all the way around the world.
One church is not meeting today. The ones who could afford it are gathering at an out-of-town conference, praying in a language I don’t understand.
One church is worshiping in a home I’ve never seen, singing the songs I long to sing, and is full of people I want to hug.
One part of my family is coming home next Sunday! After only being together for 2 weeks in the first 3 ½ months of the year, I’m praying, begging and aching for miracles. For completion.
One part of my family is gathering around Easter dresses, Easter baskets, my perfect NaNa, and a tiny Easter onesie, capturing the moments on a camera that I wish I were there to see in person.
One family I love here is being fed by death – a mother selling her body to make ends meet. Her daughter, Nandi, runs from – or maybe into – abuse. Nandi comes home with me once a week to eat, bathe, receive positive attention, and to learn how to sew from a local, SiSwati-speaking woman that has a God-breathed passion for helping this little girl. In months of attempts, Nandi’s had five lessons; five weeks where she hadn’t run away. But God says to keep going. Keep finding her. The same way He does with us. He says it’s the middle of a long, long story for Nandi.
One family that has become like my own is in the middle of an identity-changing story. A rare and taboo medical condition of a 2-year old left a 22-year old mother of 4 silenced, shut down, and living in shame inside a barely-standing shack. We’re scheduling one appointment at a time. She’s not doing it alone anymore. And she’s even inviting me into her shame. We’re standing together at a fork in the road that will author the identity of a child and a family, and that will pave the way for understanding their identities in Christ.
It’s almost too many middles to stand in the middle of at one time.
Too many stories.
With my heart wanting to be in too many places at once.
So we go back to the One Story.
The story of this weekend.
Death conquered – in the name of love.
Free-flowing, undeserved, life-saving, soul-redeeming Grace, standing up and walking out of His tomb – in the name of eternal life.
And Grace, whose body left our presence, the second time, only for the sake of a seal better than skin. A living, loving, moving, speaking, pursuing, responding, Living God – who chooses to be passionately involved in our every breath.
This whole story – this whole adoption – this whole faith hinges on one weekend over 2,000 years ago.
A God outside of time did it in one weekend.
And now that it’s done, He keeps doing it again and again in me.
It’s hard to wrap my head around, but my heart’s all in.
I’m sitting on my couch in the quiet of an Easter morning, while straddling handfuls of stories of longing, believing and wavering – my own and others’.
There’s something good – something right – and something indescribably holy about a God outside of time who never gets tired of walking through moments with me.
So, on this Easter morning, I sit on my couch and stand with my Church. And I say, “Thank You Jesus. “
Thank You, Jesus, for entering time over 2,000 years ago and never leaving me in a middle or a moment without you. I rest in the abstract and completely natural comfort today that You know the middles and moments, and you glorify them outside of time and in just the right time. You already took care of them when you walked out of that tomb. You’ll never stop taking care of me as I walk through them. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus.