Sunday, March 27, 2005
I have the fortune and misfortune to celebrate Easter this year very far from home, far even from my friends and fellow soldiers alongside whom I have spent the past 10 months first preparing for and then participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF III). This is my misfortune for obvious reasons, but as with many movements of God in our lives, this occasion of loss and absence brings unexpected blessings, that is our great good fortune. I'll explain why.
Easter is a very special time in our family. I was born, and later reborn as we like to say, on Easter Sunday. That ensures I always associate Easter with birth, and rebirth. It has always represented a time for new beginnings, of change, renewal, rededication.
Christmas is the holiday on the Christian calendar associated with birth in a different way, but that's the humble birth, the seed planted that in the fullness of time would emerge as the salvation of the world. That birth was humble, it slumbered, it speaks of love invested. Easter speaks of love demostrated:
"For God so loved the World, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever shall believe in Him, shall have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
In the great way of paradox that is God's own comeuppance to the wise, that death on Easter sets the stage for eternal rebirth. By adhering to the cross, for dying to self and aligning ourselves to Messiah, we are made new creations in Christ:
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things haveThere's a much older promise too, that Christ's resurrection reconnects us to, as fortold in Isaiah 65:17:
passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
17"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
This is the promise that has been latent and present since the beginning of the world, until God chose the time and the place for revelation. God never promises that the things of this world will remain, unchanging. In fact, He warns us that "this too shall pass away," that all things of this earth will pass away. He wants change, He wants us prepared for change, He wants us to change.
Mrs. Dadmanly's family on her Mom's side is Polish. They have this great big wonderful, tight as a southern hug family. A real family, with more known relatives than most families have on their extended Christmas card lists. They are a vibrant people, maybe somewhat dimmed and discouraged from the loss of Babci some years back at 101 years of age, but still carrying the traditions and vivid memories of family holidays. I was very fortunate to have shared the last few years when Babci was still there, urging us all to eat, toiling in the kitchen. Listening to her children scolding her about shoveling her own snow at 98, or standing on the table cleaning the ceiling, or her chiding of her daughters in Polish, correcting them on some family event or matter of tradition or even how they wore their hair.
Easter brings fond remembrance of Easter visits with Babci, big family gatherings, great food, lots of laughter. We long to "resurrect" those days, and hope that this year all the scattered strands of family may yet gather at some celebration rather than the inevitable funeral or wake.
And that brings me full circle to the deeper meaning that Easter has for me, and why Mrs. Dadmanly and I are more blessed by our separation than we ever imagined we could be, even in the midst of tears shed in missing our close companionship.
Resurrection is the promise unhoped for after sorrow. Resurrection is God's blessing in abundance following a famine or drought. Rebirth and renewal in all aspects of our lives offer new opportunities for unlooked for joy.
This separation has been hard. Being apart for things like Easter are tough, and it's hard for us to be joyful. Everything we do is a reminder of how different it would be if we were together. We grieve the absence of each other's best friend.
But there's joy coming through in the morning.
Mrs. D has used this time to offer herself for military families as a helper for our Chaplains. She also helped start a Women's Support Group at our church, ministering to women who need healing from emotional hurts. She relies on God more than ever, as her soulmate is not an arms length away, or even an easy phone call or email away.
I have rediscovered my writing, but allowing it to be used of God more and more. I am working on a sermon with our Chaplain, and though it goes slowly, I am inching towards a more public working out of my faith here in country. I walk through Proverbs with my friend John, and remain in very frequent contact with friends and family. I send a deluge of mail and postings on my web log. I've reached out to people all over the world through the blog, and begun to forge those interconnections that I believe are one of God's new ways of ministry.
So this is Easter, 2005. And like Easter 1991 when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, and Easter 1959 when I came into this world, there is a whole new world in which this new creation can find communion with my God, fellow believers, other travellers who ride this short, vibrant life on earth.
May the God of New Beginnings speak renewal into your hearts, and may you find that sudden and unexpected joy after a season of regret.
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