With children in three states, Ray and I are grateful for three opportunities to celebrate Easter this year on three consecutive weekends. Our first celebration was last weekend. We gathered at our home with our younger daughter and her family. I remembered our celebration with them last year and felt gratitude for the changes we have seen in that year. It reminded me that God is at work and changes things for the better. It gave me hope.
Last year our five-year-old grandson was still allergic to dairy, eggs, and all tree nuts. Our daughter and I had carefully made dairy-free and egg-free foods, including meatloaf and cake. His latest allergy testing revealed that he has outgrown his dairy and egg allergies. This year we only had to leave out the tree nuts.
I know it sounds small, but I felt such joy when our grandson asked for his second dressed egg (that’s Southern for deviled egg). We have come a long way from that day a couple of years ago when he sat by me at a party, eating the special free-of-this and free-of-that foods his mama had brought him. That day he looked at my plate and said, “I wish I could eat everything on your plate,” and I felt like a heel.
This past Wednesday night the small number of children of our church and the much larger number of children involved in our outreach ministry acted out a new play that our daughter has written, “He’s Alive.” I have watched these children perform three plays a year for the last five years or so. All are short and simple because of the short amounts of time the children can practice, which is only when they are with us on Wednesdays.
Hands down, this was the best job they have ever done. Most of them portrayed a group of disciples who sat in sorrow because of Jesus’ death. They reminisced about things Jesus had taught them and miracles they had observed while He was alive. Suddenly two women ran in to tell them that they had been to the tomb and learned: “He’s alive!” The two men who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus came in also and reported that they had seen Jesus. The stage full of grieving disciples burst into joy at the news.
The children spoke their lines this year as if the message they were saying were coming from their own memories of being with Jesus. They acted truly happy at the good news of His resurrection. As the wife of one of our elders told our daughter after the play, “We got it. We got the message.”
The great job the children did in their play was another reminder that God is still working in our world. He is answering our prayers. He is changing bad situations into good ones.
Our Wednesday night actors portrayed disciples who were deeply grieved and deeply confused. Can you imagine how they felt? They didn’t have the advantage that we have. They didn’t know that their grief would be replaced with joy on that resurrection morning.
God is in the business of taking something irritating or sad or troubled or downright horrible and turning it completely around. On that Friday long ago, the most horrific thing in the history of the world happened. The Son of God died. On that Sunday morning long ago, God turned mourning into joy. I find great comfort in that, as I look forward to being with Him forever. I also find great comfort as I trust that He is working in the world we live in and in the people I love now.
For I delivered to you as of first importance
what I also received,
that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried,
and that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:3-4