|Henry Ossawa Tanner's Three Marys on the way to the Tomb|
I don’t remember my first Easter Sunday – having only just arrived at the party this life is, four days earlier. But it was late in April, just like this year’s celebration is. In 1981, Easter also came late – and it sticks in my mind because on that Easter afternoon, I began the final round in one of many wrestling matches I’ve had with God -- the God revealed in the Bible.
Several weeks before Easter 1981, in the midst of a study of the gospel of Matthew, I experienced a moment in which I fully believed the I had been forgiven of sins – failures, garbage, gunk – and they had been removed from my back, and placed on Christ’s. (Matthew 27:46) The Easter service that year was a celebration I had never experienced – but by the afternoon, I felt free to take up some things I had foresworn for Lent. And I felt trapped, sinking again under a dark weight.
So, the wrestling match began – because I would not give over to God what seemed like so simple a habit to control. It lasted for almost one month before I let go, giving to God what I could not handle. I have come to believe that a power greater than I rules and overrules my life – most days. I wish I could say I turn all things over to the care of God – but I can keep re-packaging my problems, pretending I can handle stuff – until wham! I wonder how in the world I got myself in this position!
Going into Easter this year – I was hopping again into that ring – looking for answers, or my own way, wrestling with God – feeling like I was going down.
On Good Friday, we attended a chamber choir concert at Park Cities Presbyterian Church – and read along as the choir sang in Latin the petitions and confessions – the yearning of the human heart to be at peace with God – what, in fact, Easter commemorates. (Requiem, Op. 48 - Gabriel Faure*)
Thirty or so minutes of music and language . . . so superbly opened a pathway to clean house . . . to remember Whose home my heart is . . . and to rest in His resolve to accomplish His will, not mine, in the lives of those I love.
O! God I believe –Help Thou my unbelief.
Almighty God, who freely pardons all who repent and turn to You,
now fulfill in every contrite heart
the promise of redeeming grace, not counting our sins,
and cleansing us from an evil conscience,
through the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord.*
*Prayer from the Concert at PCPC.