“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; when having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build the new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim. Stir us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes, and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope and love. All this we pray through Jesus Christ. Amen” (—Archbishop Desmond Tutu, based on an older prayer that has been attributed to Sir Francis Drake, which I heard last Sunday during my son Stephen’s church service).
Isn’t this a beautiful prayer? By the way, how was your Easter Sunday? Despite my initial disappointment over not being able to attend a live church service and my sorrow over not having nineteen kids and grandchildren over for dinner after church, it was a truly wonderful day! As a result of worshiping virtually on-line, Alan and I ended up “attending” three church services: the first in Detroit where our son-in-law had participated in the production of a marvelous 30-minute movie; the second in Hilton, New York, where one of our sons is the pianist (and where I heard the wonderfully disturbing prayer above!), and the last service here in GR—our home church. We could never have done that in person in real time!!
Our pastor mentioned not long ago that one of his worst fears when he accepted the call to minister at our church was that someday he might be preaching to an empty church. I don’t think he ever dreamed that he’d literally be preaching in a sanctuary with 2,000 empty seats, but he was on Easter Sunday. His comment was that even if our “worst fears” actually occur, they probably won’t be as terrible as we imagine beforehand, because God provides a grace in ways we can’t imagine.
I don’t think one of my worst fears was not being surrounded by family and friends on some holiday, but I will say that Alan and I had a truly happy and very spiritually fulfilling Easter. Not only did we get to attend three services online, we had a family Zoom call with many of our children, and over the course of the day were in contact with all our kids and grand kids.
We walked our lane in the sunshine, listened to a beautiful concert at the Duomo sung by Andrea Bocelli (recommended by our CA family), and watched a fantastic production of the Life of Jesus (filmed live in front of an audience) in the evening. Christians, churches, and Christian organizations around the world were offering all sorts of free opportunities.
What a blessed day it was! The COVID Grinch had no chance to steal Easter, and in some ways, our Easter celebration was even sweeter and more focused on God that it is usually. There was no temptation for me to be a “too busy Martha” caught up with serving others. Very quiet but deeply satisfying to my spirit.
One of the highlights of the day for me personally was watching the service at Northridge, which included a 30-minute film imagining how one of the soldiers who participated in the crucifixion of Jesus might have felt, and how he transitioned from disturbed to finding peace, despite (probably) his worst fear coming true. If you have time to watch this some evening, please do! It’s still available here:
https://www.thesoldierfilm.com/ (click on this link, not the photo below)
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).