63,504,000 seconds

Last Tuesday I did some prep work at Saint Stephen for Maundy Thursday – Good Friday and Easter. I organized and putzed and puttered. I was seeking and finding and generally getting ready for the BIG THREE DAYS. I was climbing ladders and in and out of the storage closets and the sacristy and opening and closing boxes over and over and over again. I filled candles with oil and spent about 100 years getting those horrible sticky price stickers off some other candles. (I detest those wretched labels!) I was making sure everything was ready to go.

I was in my element. I simply adore this sort of work. I love making things neat and tidy and orderly. I revel in prep work. I delight in anticipation. I find joy in these quiet “before” moments.

As I happily worked away – preparing to celebrate Holy Week and Easter with my sisters and brothers in Christ – I realized that it had been over 2 years – 735 days – 105 weeks – 17,640 hours – 1,058,400 minutes or 63,504,000 seconds since we were able to celebrate Holy Week and Easter with in-person worship in our sanctuary. (No wonder all of our Holy Week and Easter decorations and paraments seemed a bit dusty . . . )

Covid-19 crashed and bashed into our world in the spring of 2020.   So – two years ago we were all in shock and still trying to come to grips with this whole “global pandemic” thing at Easter. Two years ago – we were far from the miracle of Covid-19 vaccines. We were still in the early days of NTI and lockdowns and quarantining.   Two years ago – we were deciding on who we should/could/would safely include in our Covid-19 bubbles.   Two years ago there were PPI and TP shortages and unemployment was heartbreakingly high. Two years ago our governor was asking/begging us to do our Christian duty and worship our Lord from home. Two years ago – we were pretty united in our need to stay home and protect one another from Covid-19.

Once Easter 2021 arrived – we had vaccines (Whoo-hoo! – Amen! – and Hallelujah!) – but only some of us had received them. And by then the fractures and the frustrations were showing. We weren’t united anymore. Exhaustion and anger were setting in. Enough was enough already.   A few threats and ultimatums were issued. “If you don’t – then . . . ” Our brokenness was on full display. We were ALL showing our human humanness and our desperate need for a Savior!

And this year . . . well – we still desperately need a Savior! Our human humanness is still very much on display.   Wow – are we human!?!?! (This is probably – because we are – in fact – a bunch of human humans.) BUT this year we celebrated Easter TOGETHER at Saint Stephen! And it was absolutely – positively – awesomely – amazingly GLORIOUS!

So many Lutherans! And we were just getting started!

This year we went all out. This year we threw open the doors of the church (and our hearts).

This year there were Easter lilies in the chancel and there were Easter hats.

There were hymns sung with gusto and played with incredible talent.

This year there was special music.

There were bold declarations of “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

There was hustle and bustle and tons of glorious noisy noise.

There was laughter and there were hugs and chatting and chatter.

There were very special Easter surprises followed by tears of joy!

We had a delicious Easter breakfast in the fellowship hall that fed our bodies (thank you generous and talented fellowship committee) and we gathered for worship in the sanctuary to feed our souls.

The pews were filled with folks. We had so many sisters and brothers in Christ for worship that we ran out of prepared elements for Holy Communion and had to get more very quickly! (Thank you – Marilyn – Kenna and Sean!)

Everywhere I turned there were Lutherans! Smiling – happy – dressed up – dapper Lutherans.

Following worship (which I loved every single minute of and didn’t want to end. I was so excited – I tried to repeat the final hymn . . . ) – we had an amazing Easter egg hunt on the church lawn.

Thank you – Jack for hiding ALL of the eggs.

We had Easter eggs and more Easter eggs and even more Easter eggs.   I stopped counting eggs when I reached 800. And I know I filled more eggs than that!

There were so many eggs – the kids ran out of room in their bags – baskets – and buckets!

There were so many eggs some of the littlest ones got tired and quit before they had collected all of their eggs!?!?!?!

Pat – Jason and I had our own post-Easter egg hunt – Easter egg hunt!

We celebrated the resurrection with joy and laughter and fellowship and music and worship and fun and community and food and love!

After everyone left and it was just Will and his mom (that’s me) at Saint Stephen – I wandered around taking in the mess and the chaos that had been left behind. I listened as quiet settled back into the building after a morning of noise and laughter and chatter and singing and celebration and worship and joy.

I puttered and I putzed and I organized. I smiled . . . My heart was full. My pastor’s heart was running over. . .

Because finally – after 2 years – 735 days – 105 weeks – 17,640 hours – 1,058,400 minutes or 63,504,000 seconds there were bulletins and worship booklets scattered around the sanctuary – the narthex – the fellowship hall and the chancel. There were dirty cups and coffee spills. There were dishes on the kitchen counter drying. There was trash that needed to be taken to the dumpster.   There were plastic eggs and grass clippings on the floor and even on some tables.

We kinda – sorts trashed the joint! How totally amazingly awesome is that?

Happy Easter! Our Lord is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Whoo – Hoo!   Amen! Hallelujah!

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