From Kristen Vogelaar
After the past two days of exhilarating joyful celebration, I'm relaxing alone in my apartment in the quietness. All of the songs have been sung, the artwork has been taken down and carefully packed away, the dishes have been washed, the leftovers from Easter dinners full of laughing, loving friends have been stored away in fridges for weekday lunches. The wax has been painstakingly ironed out of the carpets. The big dirty ladder is sleeping in the church basement.
I think back to the precious, holy moments of the past forty eight hours. The glowing faces of my beautiful friends, sisters and brothers really, as we proclaim with all our souls and all the volume our bodies can muster, He is alive! He is risen! Jesus is Lord and King of all! Together as God's children we've taunted death and hell's loss of their sting and victory over us and our world. In these moments I felt so profoundly thankful to be a created being belonging to Him.
Those moments over the past forty eight hours shimmer now in my memory. We've begun Eastertide, but the big celebration so many of us spent so much time lovingly preparing for is complete. Our Church of the Cross family has partied! And I wish I could somehow linger longer in the joyfully bewildering moment of discovery of the empty tomb. To somehow grasp that feeling I get when everyone around me is singing to our Father as loudly and as beautifully as we possibly can, together filling the whole sanctuary from down deep in our guts with tearful, thankful, genuine offerings to God of our worship. To somehow fold it up, stick it in my pocket, and take it with me into my workweek that starts tomorrow morning, into the normal, daily grind. I don't want to return yet.
After the Easter Sunday morning service, I was talking with a dear friend about how it can be so difficult to have to finally turn away from a piece of art, or when a beautiful performance we see is over, and we agreed about the longing to grasp that experience of beauty and take it with us somehow. And we talked about how wonderful it will be when time is no longer an issue. When we won't have to accept beauty's end, even when temporary; how in the new creation, we'll be able to both create and experience tremendous beauty without our current constraints.
I'm tired, but I don't want to go to sleep yet. Maybe I'm afraid that when I go back to work tomorrow, everything we've celebrated in the past two days will start to fade away again, and it won't seem real or true or important anymore. I'll have to deal with numerous daily tasks. I'll have to drive in traffic and rush to meetings and complete paperwork and run reports. I'm afraid I'll start to forget again, because I'm afraid I can't take this experience with me. I'm afraid that the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead has been taken out and celebrated for another year and now it stays packed away in the basement with the big dirty ladder. Not lost, but sleeping.
The Psalm for today, Psalm 16, is entitled, "You will not abandon my soul." As Psalms do, it quiets my fears.
"I have no good apart from you."
"As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight."
"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot."
"Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."
"I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
"My heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure."
"You make known to me the path of life."
"In your presence there is fullness of joy."
"At your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Maybe I don't have to be afraid of returning now to normal, ordinary life, because I don't have to try to grasp at this experience or lay hold of it, because the Lord of Life has laid hold of us. His power never ceases, and it doesn't sleep. His life-giving and restoring work is always present in every moment of every day; deeply joyful celebration with our brothers and sisters is always available when we have thankful eyes disciplined to see our Father's work. It is such a priceless treasure! The resurrection has happened, and is happening; we can continue the joyful celebration by practicing resurrection, together, at all times.
I live on the north shore and work as a psychotherapist. I am currently in a season focusing on the discipline of thankfulness, which is rooted in enjoying the extravagant generosity of God in His giving of Himself. His character is so much better than we can even imagine! I'd love for you and I to talk about it in person some time.