Our family wheeled Anne through the crowded sanctuary. We hadn’t gotten there as early as we had planned. Our usual spot was taken over by the crowds on Easter. We were forced to the front. As we filled the empty chairs, Anne squealed, “Miss Debbie! Miss Debbie!”
Other than family, Miss Debbie is one of the few constants in Anne’s life. Their relationship is the same as it was before the accident when Anne was in her 3-year-old Sunday school class. We haven’t seen Miss Debbie in months. But God let us find her today.
So there we were, The Jackson Five sitting beside Miss Debbie (and her husband) on the front row. I could see the white of every choir member’s eyes. Soon, Anne (who was now sitting in Miss Debbie’s lap) saw Miss Erin sitting in the choir. She yelled and waved widely, “Hey Miss Erin!” Miss Erin is Anne’s Occupational Therapist and helps Anne in Sunday school. Miss Erin smiled broadly and waved back inconspicuously.
And I sat. And I was grateful. Where else can our family go and be totally accepted and loved? Where else can Anne go and be totally accepted and loved. For all you momma’s out there, you know how meaningful it is when someone loves your child. And here I was surrounded by folks who love and serve my Anne.
And then we started singing that song. The song that makes me cry under normal circumstances – but considering how grateful I already was… well, the tears were inevitable. And opening my eyes, I saw that someone in the choir was watching me…
Do you have people in your life that you don’t necessarily see very often, but when you have the chance to connect, your time is instantly significant and refreshing? I call them “heart-friends” because we can quickly communicate at a heart-deep level.
Well, the person in the choir – the one who was watching me cry – is one of my heart-friends. And she smiled and mouthed, “I love you.” And I knew she understood.
Let me tell you something. We live in a culture that SCREAMS individualism. It’s all about how to be the best you. And how to find your inner you. And how to find someone who appreciates you. But the best way to be “you” is to identify yourself with a community.
How rare it is to find a community that both knows and accepts. This is God’s design, and sadly our pride and fear keep us from cultivating this kind of community. It’s a paradox… Only God could design something as crazy as… “if you want to find yourself – well then become part of a group.” Church is a crazy, counter-cultural idea. But it is God’s idea. I’m thankful to be a part of a good church. It made for a more meaningful Easter.
He is risen. He is risen, indeed!