Archive for April, 2011

Easter: The Great Reversal and Sounds of Laughter

Holy Week always feels chaotic to me. Inwardly chaotic. Emotionally chaotic. I can’t decide how to feel.

On Palm Sunday, children sing and palm fronds are waved and Jesus is hailed as a King.  Such rejoicing!  But then the real chaos begins.  In a few short days, how the crowd turns.  By Thursday night, one of Jesus’ own has betrayed Him.  On Friday—just five days after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem—the crowd is shouting, “Crucify Him!”

Wait!  My heart cries out: What happened to the triumph?  And why is it that I—one who joyfully, even ecstatically, welcomed this King into the City—now find myself amidst this other, uglier, angry crowd?  That’s the horror: my sins put me right there with them.

It’s true, the line we sang in church recently (from “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”  by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty):  “Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.  “  Martin Luther was right:  “We carry His nails in our pockets.”

So it made great sense to me last Sunday when the young preacher said of Palm Sunday, and Psalm 118, which we were studying: “Today we celebrate the God of Reversals.”  And then this week I came across a series of long-ago Christianity Today articles on Holy Week under the title “The Great Reversal.”

The God of Great Reversals.  Watch Him at work through Holy Week.  Temporal, fleeting triumph turns to terror, and torture, and death.  For a day there is silence—holy, awesome silence.  And then the Great Reversal: RESURRECTION.  ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OVER SIN AND DEATH.   ETERNAL LIFE.

The God of Great Reversals.  A God in Whom the empty become full, the weak become strong, and sinners like me are forgiven and freed.   And death—yes, even death—is destroyed, “swallowed up in victory,” as Paul puts it.

Enter the laughter.  Now there’s a reversal.  No one was laughing much during Holy Week.  But now there’s laughter “from the other side of death,” as author Philip Yancey puts it.  I came across the exact quote this week.  The words had long echoed in my ears.  But there it was in an old file.  Yancey’s conclusion to a chapter in his book I Was Just Wondering . . . entitled “The Fragrant Season”: “Listen, Christians.  Can you hear the laughter from the other side of death?   Breathe deeply of a fragrance like no other.  Let it fill your lungs this spring, this Easter.”

I’ll be listening for the laughter this Easter.  Can you hear it with me?

Isn’t That SO Funny?

“Isn’t that so funny?” is one of Gabriella’s favorite new expressions.  Gigi, as we call her, loves to laugh.  And sing.  And dance.  On our recent visit to Ireland to see her and her mommy (our daughter Erika) and daddy (our son-in-law Richie), I was reminded how very important it is to laugh.  To actually have fun with your kids.

Every time we go to Ireland—and really, every time I travel—I am reminded of the universality of mom-feelings.  On this past visit, we spent a lot of time at playgrounds—another thing Gigi loves.  I loved playing with her there, and I also loved watching the other moms and kids at the playground.

One day we had the great good fortune of a long time on the swing.  There was no line of people waiting, as there often is, for the toddler swings.  As I pushed Gigi, a young mom pushed her son, a little boy who seemed about Gigi’s age (2 ½).  His mom looked as if she had been pushing him on that swing for a very long time.  In fact, she’d become almost robotic.  Back and forth, back and forth.

Then she looked over at me, sighed, and said: “Ohhh, it feels like forever.  The days feel like forever. “  As I nodded in instant recognition of those feelings, she went on to tell me how early her little boy gets up, how he doesn’t nap much if at all, how hard it is to get him in bed at his usual time now that the days are light so much longer, and . . .  You all know the rest of the story well.

A few moments later I noticed a very energetic grandmother playing with several of her grandchildren.  They were having a ball.  The kids had set up a “store” under one of the climbing structures and she was “buying” all kinds of things from them (including ice cream—which definitely got Gigi’s attention!)  Soon the kids tired of that game and ran on to another, and this very engaged grandmother looked over at me with both a big smile and a sigh and said, as she ran after them,” I am absolutely exhausted!”

Sounds familiar, yes?  Days that feel like forever.  Chronic exhaustion. It comes with the mom-job, with keeping up with these little energizer bunnies.  Which is why I love watching my daughter and her daughter have so much fun together.

Yes, Erika’s days often feel like forever.  And yes, she is most always exhausted (especially now that she is pregnant with Gigi’s little brother or sister).  But even amidst it all, they do have fun.  I wish I had a video of Gigi dancing with her mama in front of the mirror, traipsing around in her mama’s shoes (what little girl doesn’t love that?), or waking up in the morning carrying on conversations with herself interspersed with “Isn’t that just so funny!”  (Not caught on video!)  But we did have fun with her new scooter, new sunglasses, and glasses for Corduroy—and how about tutus for headdresses?  I suspect it’s the having fun part that gets many moms through the not-so-fun parts of the mom-job.

I’m not sure I was that much fun as a mother.  But I hope you are!

Workshop Day

I am so looking forward to workshop day!  We have a Mom to Mom group in New England and we decided that with our incredibly long winters, we needed a break and a “pick me up” day rolled into one.

On this one day (or it could be two) we can “vacation” from the core lessons and offer a multitude of workshops that will sharpen our intellectual as well as our creative minds.  Moms will sign up for workshops that range in interests, from flower arranging to “Exploring Your Faith”—from creative memories to dealing with depression—and any and everything in between.

We are blessed to have a church where talented individuals share their gifts with our ministry.  I am always looking for new suggestions to add, so please feel free to share any workshop ideas that may come to your mind!

—Connie, in Massachusetts

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