Easter this year was a wonderful time of blessing. For the first time in 3 years it felt like the congregation was "back." Our attendance for Easter still wasn't what it used to be before covid-19, but it was definitely better than it has been in several years. Further, there was a wonderful spirit in our worship, fellowship, and proclamation. Our Choir and Praise team inspired everyone. There was a joy as people greeted each other and we welcomed some who had not been in worship for over two years. Though I often feel like I've "fallen short" in my preaching on Easter Sundays, for some reason this year my message just seemed "to flow." Many said it was the best Easter sermon they had ever heard me share. In so many ways the presence of the Risen Lord was felt. But there was another very special blessing that happened on this day...
It is our custom, on special days, to have our family picture taken after church. In recent years, however, it is usually a picture of me, Kristi, Beth (and my mom, before she passed away). But this year we were joined in worship (and for picture taking) by John, Alicia, Andy, and Sam. After the picture was taken I overheard John say to the photographer, "This is the first time I've been able to worship with mom and dad and listen to dad preach in 15 years." Could that be true? As I thought about it I realized that it was. For years Alicia worked as the children's director at a Methodist Church in Yukon so their family always had responsibilities on Sunday morning. Then covid came and for a couple of years we only had on-line services. This was the first time in 15 years that we had been able to share Easter worship together. Needless to say, I was moved by the thought. I also realized how we need to cherish the blessings of special moments. Changes in health can come rapidly (especially since my wife and I have both turned 70). Who knows whether or not covid will bring us more bad news. (Just think about the recent lock-downs in China). Retirement could come at any time, I may never be preaching on Easter Sunday again. Having said all of that, I realized that this was indeed a special time - it was a time truly to cherish.
Easter Sunday is not the only special moment our family shares together, and for you "special moments" may come at other times of the year. But I would encourage us all, to to be more intentional about our appreciation and celebration of special times together. Hopefully, more times of blessing will come our way, but we really don't know. I believe we need to let the present time be the time to appreciate and enjoy the moments we share with the ones we love.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.