By Rev. Patrick Rogers, MDiv.
Over ten years ago, I graduated from seminary with a Masters in Divinity degree. The other preparation for pastoral ministry included years of educational units with hospice and voluntarily serving churches before being officially called to serve as a full time pastor. The long wait was over and I felt ready and was extremely excited about this call which had taken so many years of preparation. I began this new position as the church was about to enter the Lenten/Easter season and my enthusiasm was bubbling over to ensure this was the best Easter worship experience ever on record. I love God for steering me towards this personal life changing call to serve and my gratefulness included this plan to give back!
Easter Sunday arrived and it indeed was a worship experience like no other. The church leadership and I had worked diligently for weeks. On Easter Sunday, the church and her pews were filled to capacity. The celebratory music was perfect for the occasion as we celebrated the “Risen Christ” through music, song, prayer, and word. We journeyed through the path where God had given the greatest gift ever given.
I stood at the front door of the church and shook hands and gave hugs to each and every person who had given time from their Sunday mornings to attend. I was still wearing church vestments and the long flowing white robe with gold accents which were appropriate for this grand Easter celebration. As I shook the hands of the last attendees, I hurried as the children were having an Easter egg hunt on the church grounds. I love Easter candy so even hoped to find a few personal treats for later in the day as I would sit back and reflect upon the morning service.
Yes indeed, the children were busy running all around carrying their Easter baskets and searching for their treasures. There was so much joy in my heart until I walked up to one little girl whose Easter basket seemed as tall as she was. She literally was almost dragging the basket behind her. I looked into it and there were only three Easter eggs and the event was almost over.
I felt the need to comfort her and said, “Oh you did okay, look at me, I don’t have even ONE Easter egg!” She stopped what she was doing and looked also in the basket and then thought about my statement as she paused. Next, without hesitation she reached in, took one of her three Easter eggs, and handed one to me. Regarding her “lack” or what she would or would not have later, she gave fully from her heart. She also gave without condition.
It was then that I felt in my heart for the first time the true meaning of Easter. Especially in the present time of controversy, church division and schisms in mainstream denominations about who is included in the kingdom and who is not, it is a reminder for us to get back to the heart of Easter and how to truly love and give. I thank her to this day for the best gift she could have given this “still wet behind the ears” pastor. Love without condition and with all your heart.