I carried the Sacrament of Holy Communion to one of our own the other day. It is quite certain he will not walk through the doors of our church ever again in this lifetime — and certainly not this Easter. So I filled a communion kit with wafers and wine and enough small plastic cups to serve his family, too, should they be there.
We gathered close around his hospital bed where I prayed with him, with them. I read the Easter story from John’s Gospel for it is so very rich and full of detail. And then I leaned in close to him and said, “The promise is that death does not win. All this suffering and struggle does not win.” And his eyes shone and he broke out in a grin and he said, “I can’t wait!”
I can’t wait, indeed.
Early the next morning I dreamed of my own dad. I cannot recall when last I did so and I am not at all certain what brought him to mind this time. In my dream, he looked and he moved as he did before he was sick. I, on the other hand, looked exactly as I do today, these more than twenty years later.
In it we were sharing an ordinary day and he and I were planning to go out to lunch. We were pondering where we should go and in the back of my mind I had decided that I would offer to buy. I was anticipating his response of surprised gladness, for truth be told, I cannot recall buying lunch for him all that many times. And so it was, in my dream’s imagination I was anticipating the sound of his teasing laughter!
Oh, I can’t wait, can you?
This Sunday morning we will gather early at the cemetery for our sunrise service. It is always my favorite moment of Easter, huddled together in the cold in a place where corporate worship seldom happens except when the grave stands open and the grief is still raw. We will hear the Easter Promise once more in a place where the promise is especially meaningful — just a few steps away from where my own dad is buried and where many others gathered can say the same. And we will repeat the names of dearly beloved who have already met the Easter Promise face to face. In years past I have punctuated the reading of those names with the Easter Proclamation: “Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia!” I am thinking of adding “I Can’t Wait” this year!
For this remains true: You and I still live in this time after Mary Magdalene and the other women, Simon Peter and John first entered that empty tomb and began to realize the truth that death had been defeated and before that time when we will be embraced by the Easter Promise in all of its fullness. The battle may be over, but the skirmishes continue. And so it is so that even while we stand sure in the truth of the Eater Promise, We Can’t Wait for the day…
- When peace will take the place of war;
- When health will overcome illness;
- When kindness will outdo cruelty;
- When generosity of life and spirit will wipe away any need;
- And when we will all see one another with the eyes of God who embraces us in all of our diversity and difference.
And yes, when each and every one who struggles will have that struggle replaced with wholeness, like the one I carried bread and wine to a few days back …
And when daughters can take their dads to lunch once more.
In the meantime we watch for the signs of the Easter Promise all around us even now whenever and wherever signs of life and hope and joy are glimpsed. We take note and celebrate, knowing these point to something more. For these are surely signs that suffering and struggle will not have the final say. That death does not, will not win!
Oh yes, we revel in these today even as we watch and wait for another, fuller day…
Oh, I can’t wait. Can you?