I was born and raised on a farm. We worked hard, but were richly blessed in many ways. We swam in the Pudding River nearly every day we wanted--after the irrigation pipes had been moved. I sweated with the cultivator down the corn rows behind old Nell, but also had the privilege of riding horses.
We saw the miracle births of lambs, calves, and piglets. We also cleaned their stinky pens. Though we planted, weeded, and harvested the gardens, our table was filled with the bounty.Not until my first year at university did I begin to realize the richness of those farm years. My roommate, Stan, was from a city about four hours drive from Pacific Lutheran University. Late in November, he informed me he was going home for the weekend and that his parents had promised him a steak dinner.
Rev. Frank Netter
Lakeland Lutheran Parish,
Cold Lake, Alberta
I thought he was overly excited about eating a steak! Yes, steaks were good, but so were a lot of other foods that had been common fare at my home table. Actually, it took me a few more months before I talked about steaks like Stan did.
The trouble with us when we've been Christians for a while is that we can easily begin talking about the Resurrection the same way we do instant mashed potatoes and gravy. But our walk through the lessons of Lent and Holy Week was meant to get us ready for steak again.
These are not just more stories or accounts we hear. They are walks where we stop and listen. Smell. Feel. We are alongside Jesus. We wear Peter's shoes for a while. His words of denial come from our mouths. Our hearts are meant to break over cruelty, injustice, emptiness, and unfathomable events.
Then we are ready for this incredible Easter morning. Then we understand Mary Magdalene's confusion before the empty tomb and Peter and John's breathless sprint to it. Then the words "He saw and believed", (which John spoke of himself) are like an explosion of light, warmth and beauty in a cold northern Alberta winter night.
Everything had changed for Mary Magdalene when she exclaimed to the hardly believing disciples, "I have seen the Lord." It changes for us too when we see this Gospel account through John or Mary's Easter Eyes.
Let's call her Betty, to keep her anonymous. She and her significant other have been worshiping with us for about a year. For more than ten years she has been absent from what was once her church. A month ago she and I relived some of her agonies. We laughed, shared honestly, wept and prayed.
Two weeks ago she stepped forward for Holy Communion. That was the first time in all those years. I, kind of mechanically, bent down to place the bread in her hands. They were trembling. I looked into her eyes. She was weeping. She had seen the Lord! In the miracle of that moment, I saw through her tears and reached out with my own trembling hands. Nothing was mechanical for me during the rest of that worship.
-- Rev. Frank Netter