Easter Overload

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My head is spinning with so many thoughts—many of which need time to percolate.  Suffice it to say, as TYPICALLY happens, my children’s questions and observations often push the boundaries and understandings I hold to in my own journey.  I know that I will squeeze in some time to write here this next week about that, but for today, I want to share some amazing things that I have read over the last few days.  Hopefully they will inspire you too as other things {CHOCOLATE!  BUNNIES!  EGGS!  TIES/SUITS!} tend to compete for our focus today.  Below all the amazing things written by others, I will overwhelm and overload you with happenings from our household.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you—-this is a long post!  Pour a cup of tea and settle in.

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Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

-John Updike, “Seven Stanzas at Easter”

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Tenebrae/Good Friday Reflections from My Dear Friend, Susan Brady

This is the end.

The disciples have been watching with horror, stunned, all along this journey to the cross, waiting for Jesus to come down, assert His Lordship, and conquer the world.

But now, as His dead body is taken from the cross, carried away, and prepared for burial, there is no denying that it is over.

“Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die, it will remain alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Jesus has been trying to tell them that this was going to happen, but they do not understand. And they are now devastated and stricken with grief, unable to comprehend what has happened, how this week that began so joyfully has ended so terribly. They do not know that Easter is coming, and they do not understand or have forgotten what Jesus said about death being necessary for life.

In our lives too, it takes death to make life possible. We must be dead to sin and be made alive in Christ. Dead to sin – to me this means dying to the dreams we have about how our lives will turn out, and embracing the life that God has for us.

For me, it meant getting to the end of grad school and realizing that spending my life as a research scientist – what I had been preparing myself for since 7th grade – wasn’t a good fit. Only when I gave up that dream was I able to move on to a fulfilling career in science education.

For me, it has also meant relinquishing my lifelong plan to be a wife and mother. It was an incredibly painful process, but I had to give up my dreams of being married and giving birth. Only then was I freed to live the amazing life that God had planned for me as mom through adoption to two incredible boys who bless my life beyond words.

Now as a parent, it means letting go of my dreams about what my children would be like – to stop trying to raise my imaginary children – in order that they can become exactly who God designed them to be. This is a terrifying, gut-wrenching, daily process. My own expectations have to die in order for my boys to be free to become all they can be – and for me to delight in them. The joy of who they become will be lost if I hold tightly to my own plans for them.

There are many other examples in my life. What does it look like in yours? What do you hold onto that needs to die in order for you to have room for the full life God is waiting to bless you with?

For the disciples, seeing Jesus die felt like the crushing end of their dreams. They thought that their plans for Jesus had been too big for Him to live up to. In reality it was the opposite – their dreams were way too small. They had no idea of what was to come and the way that Jesus would bless the entire world through the cross.

What do we miss when we hold tightly to our own plans and dreams about who God should be and what God should do? We dream such small dreams – God has the unimaginable in mind. But we must pass through death – a very long three days of death – in order to make it to the glory of the resurrection.

In this night of darkness and sorrow, may we surrender and put to death all of the things – our dreams, hopes, habits of body and habits of mind – that hold us back from experiencing the full blessing of the abundant, overwhelming life that God has for us.

Lord, help us to die to ourselves, completely and repeatedly, as painful and difficult as that is, in order to be truly alive in You.
Amen

upside down Easter

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And lastly, thanks to Laurie, who posted some words shared by her husband, our friend, Doug Bunnell….some thoughts on being Easter People.

“There is a quote by N.T. Wright that I absolutely love, ‘We’re the Easter people; let’s get on with it.’ What could be truer than that? Easter is what we proclaim, what we celebrate on the good days, what we hold on to during the hard days, and what we seek to live everyday. Death is not the final word; the tomb is empty, the story is not over, and the evil one gets kicked in the teeth. After watching people I love dearly face their last days, I hold on to Easter more tightly than ever. In the face of death I only have resurrection, and it is enough. In the face of grief I turn to Easter, for I am reminded that death does not last forever-out of the ashes life bursts forth. This is a choice we get to make everyday: do we live out death, or do we live out life?… Enter into Easter this year – ‘let’s get on with it!'”

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The last week has been filled with a lot of mayhem and…..life.  I’m realizing that hard moments/days are just par for the course.  They are just that…..LIFE.  Moments that can look serene and pleasant via photographs are often very different in real time.  Case in point—dying Easter Eggs. {looks calm, cool and collected in the first two pics—-reality is the third one—Drew and Mom (not pictured), both crying}.

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Many days I wonder if our table will ever be set and stay art/toy free for a meal…below, our Easter Breakfast “festivities”.

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Lots of digging in the dirt, walks to see construction sites & spring flowers….

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Buds

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This couple walks to Trader Joes everyday and buys one or two things and has the samples. I see them all the time and absolutely adore watching them. Followed them with Drew on our walk on Friday.  Good Friday, INDEED!

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Alex is always keeping us entertained and exhausted with his plans and activities and antics  (currently working on his “life story”)…..

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And Drew….oh, Drewske.  Hats, Glasses (sunglasses or bunny glasses or egg….you choose….)

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Cooking Projects Galore {this week Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Flourless Brownies & Sullivan Street Bakery Bread, plus green juicing to offset the carbs and sweets!}

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Easter Egg Hunts, Resurrection Roll Preparation {Alex made SEVEN this year and Drew made one….and THAT, friends, IS AN EASTER MIRACLE!!!} and the most touching moment of the week for me—Drew insisting on washing Alex’s and my feet on Maundy Thursday.  We had to skip the service, and thus, miss Matt’s sermon {boo!} in favor of bedtime and routines.  But it dawned on me that Jesus did the same thing on that Thursday night in the Upper Room, with his disciples.  Did Drew or Alex remember that and plan it out?  No.  But I caught it.  And it was a reminder to me that God still breaks into the ordinary moments with worship in the everyday.  Later that night, Alex and I read from the Jesus Storybook Bible and had some very good {challenging for me!} discussions.  It was so special.

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So….if you got to the end of this ridiculously long post, you win….

a CHOCOLATE EGG!!!

No….but, really….this is more to remind myself of the ways God has been moving in my life day-to-day.  I will forget these moments, the nuances as the days go by.  And I want to remember.  Despite the moments where I feel so out of my league and element as a parent, friend and spouse, I know that God’s grace is big enough for all of my failings (and believe me, there are MANY….).  On Easter, the hope of the resurrection is HUGE.  If I remember that it’s not just a nice little story, but a life-changing interruption—-the GOOD kind of interruption!—it should upend things.  Life should look different.

Today, I am thankful for Jesus.

And very thankful for my family.

And….Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs which I stole from the boys.

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Easter, 2013

{below, Easter 2012 and then Easter 2011….same tree at Sunnyvale Presbyterian}

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3 thoughts on “Easter Overload

  1. How wonderful — He is risen indeed!

    And BTW – I loved observing Drew being a super sleuth on Sunday as he listed to the earth. At least that was my take. After your little family photo shoot (and good thing it was AFTER so his Easter best still looked like it in our portrait!) he jumped around putting his ear to the trees, to the ground, to the lawn and to the sidewalk at Trinity Court. I wonder what he heard on the holiest of holy days? Elaine

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