Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter In A Small Church | Random JournaL Day

No, it wasn't super pretty, but we loved it completely. 

My RANDOM JOURNAL DAY offering for this Easter weekend is a look back to a normal Easter while the Hubs and I were pastors of a small church for 10 years. My journal captured the happy and busy season of our lives….

I love Easter and all that it stands for. As the leaders of a small town church, Hubs and I decided that Easter should be as wonderful and full of life as Christmas, so we planned many special things for that one day each year. Our town, offered an Easter Sunrise Service where all the churches in town that could agree on at least one thing, got together to greet the rising sun with songs, scriptures and freezing people in the local park. So our church happily took part in the planning and organizing of this once-a-year gathering.

That meant I was dragging my two boys out of their cozy beds at crazy-dark-o'clock and bundling them up to go stand in wet, soggy grass for an hour. When I use the word “dragging”, it is quite literal. Imagine two little boys who woke up to find big baskets full of candy at the foot of their beds…lots of crying and dragging took place!

After the sunrise service I got my kiddos back home and packed up to return to the church for the annual Pancake Breakfast before the actual Easter Service began. In between each of these jaunts my boys are running back to their sweet-filled Easter baskets. The sugar rush is beginning to catch up with them, it will manifest itself later on when the real service is about to begin and the whole church is very quiet.

So, there I am, all dressed up and working in a tiny old-fashioned kitchen with an ugly apron over my pretty new spring dress as we pile pancakes on plates. Some of the men in the church were pretty talented in “pancake ministry”. The boys are now sliding out of my sight whenever possible to do who knows what on the blackboards of the Sunday School classrooms.

The fellowship hall of our little church was packed to over-flowing (literally) with happy, dressed-up families and many families who only came to church on this one Sunday each year. Our little church was excited to hit the 100 mark one day each year. It was loud, fun and full of life, I loved it!

Towards the end of the breakfast time I would sneak into the crowd and quietly gather the teen-agers to put them to work hiding plastic-candy-filled Easter eggs all over the church lawns. A few of the ladies in the church and I had spent several hours earlier in the week stuffing these eggs with non-melting, paper wrapped candies. While the grown-ups were eating the breakfast, we also somehow managed to get the little ones to decorate pastel colored paper lunch sacks for collecting their Easter eggs.

Rocker Son is showing signs of a sugar-high...

Keep in mind that during all this activity, Hubs and I are also being the gracious and inviting hosts to new people who were being brought up to us for introductions all morning. Because we were a small church, I had my hands in on every single activity. The beginning moments of the actual Easter Service were my first chance to sit down all morning and even though it was not easy to keep a couple of sugar-wired boys in control, it was beautiful to sit down for a bit. For some reason we had decided that it was important for the kids to be in the service instead of going out to the kids service on that day. Of course it was probably ME that made that decision because I was the Kids Church Director too! As I write this I have absolutely no idea how I did so much!

We had wonderful Easter afternoons with my parents and siblings who lived an hour away. After church we changed into more comfy clothes and packed ourselves into the mini-van.... hmm, I need to interrupt myself there and correct that statement. I changed into comfy clothes, but KEPT the boys in their nice outfits (such as they were by that point) so that Grandma could see how cute they looked. I let them change after Grandma got her pictures taken.

We got to watch the boys and their cousins do another egg hunt in Grandmas' yard and sit down to an amazing meal with tons of laughter and teasing. The drive home late that night would be a very quiet one as the boys snoozed with candy wrappers and plastic green grass in their hands.

As I read this bit of our history, it is hard to see where the beauty and contemplative aspect of Easter could fit. But it did. I remember catching moments of wonder and thankfulness in the middle of the chaos. We can sense the presence of God anywhere if we are looking for Him. He is there. He is here. He is with you this Easter. Stop and breathe. Whisper a “thank you” and remember why we get to eat a big meal and gather together.

...Click here to read other Random Journal blog posts.

Post Script Update: I hit "Publish" on this an hour ago and something has been nagging at me ever since. This post does not include the many wonderful people we had around us who were ALSO working hard to create a great day for our community. We had very involved people in our church and we had a small staff that was AMAZING! 

BUT, I had a bit of a control-freak issue and I was not good at trusting others enough to delegate as any good leader must do. If I could send back some advice to my former self, it would be to relax more and allow others to step up. They want to and need to. It creates a happier and more fulfilled community! 
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  1. That was a nice glimpse back to an earlier Easter.

    1. Thanks Terra and thank you for leaving a comment.

  2. Boy does that sound familiar to me! Been there and done that almost to a T! But yes, they are the happy memories that make up our lives and make us who we are today. Maybe a little older and wiser and more willing to "let go" of the controls and let others help out more...I am still learning about that. But so thankful for the memories...even when we realize just how difficult it all least looking at it now through our more mature, tired eyes. Thank the Lord for the energy He gave us as "youngsters" in ministry. Loved this post, Susie. May your Easter day tomorrow be filled with all the joy and wonder of the first Easter...and also experiencing it with your new grandson for the first time. Blessings to you my friend. Relax and enjoy.

    1. I can't believe how busy our life used to be! I remember feeling like I would never have a moment to be alone. Now it is the complete opposite. Of course , like you said, I wouldn't have the energy to do that much again anyway. Maybe something in between would be just right, ha!

  3. This was a great glimpse into the busyness of a Pastors wife, a lesson I can't learn enough. A dear friend of mine is a Pastors wife and I have to admit if you have never been one, or been friends with one, you will never begin to grasp all the work that goes into it. It is also a special message on finding Christ in all you do. Many times we fail to take notice, but when we do how sweet it is.

    1. Welcome Deanna, thanks for coming by and leaving such a kind comment!

  4. Susie...hellloooooooooooooooooo. Finally making the rounds my friend! Thank you so much for making this a fun glimpse into your busy, church lady life. I am so glad that part of your recovery has included being able to look back and see things that may not have been clear then... or maybe you were not ready to let go and trust. Maybe your still not, but Hey, he's still leading, right? ALl the way to Texas. I wonder if we met then would be the friends we are now...? God's timing is perfect. To God. Maybe someday we'll trust Him for that too. Lol.

  5. It is always good to look back on our lives and see the pleasant times, busy but pleasant.

  6. Susie- As we enter the empty nest season and get one of our sons married off this year :) I have been looking back on my control freak years and all the fun and abundance God gave us over the years...I am glad for a slower pace...but am still amazed at how much God allows us to pack into one day and especially one life. Loved revisiting Easter with you and yours!

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