Friday, April 3, 2009

Dusty Treasures

When my parents bought the little farm where I grew up, it included a tiny, one-room adobe building. Known simply as "the storeroom," it housed various "treasures" over the years.

My mom lined the simple wooden shelves along one wall with canned vegetables and fruit. Many a winter's serving of green beans, crowder peas and peach cobbler began with a trip to that storeroom.

The last few years I lived at home, the storeroom also contained a large chest freezer. We often had enough frozen beef there to feed a small army. All year long, we would dig through the freezer for a "treasure" that would grace our dining table within a couple hours.

Adobe -- mud brick -- is a great product for natural insulation. It's also a habitat for dust. I loved the food that came from storage in that mud building.

But I can't think of it without remembering the smell of dust.

The three-plus years of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry took place up and down the dusty roads and sun-stroked villages of Israel. That season culminated with a week in Jerusalem.

Starting Sunday, I hope you will journey with me as we look back to the events of Jesus during what we call "Holy Week." My prayer is that it will move us beyond the dusty layers of two millennia treat our hearts to a feast.

We begin on Sunday.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Easter Insights

A few years ago, Tom, our Worship Pastor, approached me with, "What would you think about having a Tenebre service?" I was lost. He must have been speaking Greek. (I speak Geek and was sure that wasn't it.)

"Actually," he said, "Tenebre is a Latin word that means 'darkness.' The service is designed for Good Friday evening just after sunset."

Tom has earned my trust. He told me a little about what he wanted to accomplish and I turned him loose.

At the time, we had one small office building on our future campus. The property God blessed us will is on a hillside which slopes toward the West. We are moved by the many gorgeous sunsets we get to watch. Before our first buildings and lighted parking, it could get quite dark out there.

I will never forget that first Tenebre service. As the sky grew darker, Scriptures were read and descriptions were given of the crucifixion. We heard the clank of nails being driven into Christ's hands.

After a closing prayer, we were dismissed and saw the dim form of a man hanging from the cross. No one said a word as we walked back to our cars and left.

It took us about 20 minutes to drive back across town that night. We were silent for almost the whole trip.

I was never so ready for Sunday morning.

Do you have a Good Friday memory you can share?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Invisible Easter Hope

A part of my childhood Easter exists, for me anyway, only in my imagination. No, it's not the mental picture of a stone rolled away, an empty tomb or Mary mistaking Jesus for the gardener. Instead, I always imagined the Easter Egg Hunt at Hope Farms.

If, like me, you grew up in Socorro, New Mexico, the Hope Farms Easter Egg Hunt was a thing of legend. Hope Farms was about 4 miles south of our house in the country. I went there twice a day when I rode the bus to and from school. I knew the family that lived there. For a time, my family went there on Sundays and picked up some friends who needed a ride to church.

But, on Easter, Hope Farms was a place of mystery. It was the location of the big, community Easter Egg Hunt. If you read the comments on this blog yesterday, my daughter Becki remembered the egg hunts when she was young. I similarly remember ours on the farm. But, at least in my imagination, nothing could compare to the one at Hope Farms.

Why? I'm not really sure. I vaguely remember something about prize eggs with cash. When I was a kid, we bought candy bars for a nickel, cokes for a dime and comic books for twelve cents. Consequently, a dollar in a prize egg was A LOT of money.

Perhaps the reason was the potential haul of candy Easter Eggs (can't stomach the boiled ones -- never could). Perhaps it was the sheer enormity of the thing.

The Hope Farms Community Easter Egg Hunt was real. But Easter for us was a time for family, close friends, church and Easter Sunday afternoon at home. For me, the Hope Farms Hunt was alive only in my imagination.

I still smile when I pause to think about it.

What was in your imagination at Easter?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Easter On The Farm

Yesterday I described some of the routine of Easter as I was growing up. Something else is drilled into my memory...the smells.

The title of this blog refers back to growing up on the farm. We weren't "farmers" in the formal sense of the word. My dad had a regular job in town. My parents, though, knew they had to stretch their income to feed and care for themselves, four kids, grandparents that needed help. And others who crossed our paths.

It was my mom who knew how to work that farm. The little acre and a half was about an acre of orchard at the beginning. Apples of different varieties, various types of peaches, at least two kinds of plums, a few pears, occasional apricots (if the spring freeze didn't kill them) and crabapples. Oh, my!

The year they bought the land, mom helped pick and sell the fruit. The bounty was such that they paid for the land in one summer of fruit sales.

Now, let your imagination run with me for a minute. Easter is always near the first day of Spring, right? In our location, that meant that Easter often included a wide array of fruit trees in full bloom.

Inhale. Remember. Listen to the bees buzzing in the warm afternoon air.

That's what Easter smelled like to me.

What did your Easter (or Passover) smell like?

Monday, March 30, 2009

White Hats And Frilly Dresses

The church I pastor attracts a wide array of people from all ages and backgrounds. Among our Sunday worship services, it's not unusual to see great-grandparents, some walking with canes or being pushed in wheelchairs. It's also common to see young families arrive in their SUVs and unload diaper bags and carrying seats for their tiny ones.

Something that is unusual, though, is neckties. In fact, a man wearing a tie most frequently means a first-time guest. Slacks are common for both males and females and I don't really notice it when the heat breaks in like a tsunami, giving tacit permission to wear shorts. To church. (I'm sorry if your family member is reaching for the smelling salts.)

Dresses are still seen often. But frilly, Easter dresses? Rare. Easter hats? Endangered!

Which takes me back to the less complicated, more formal days of Easter as a kid. I remember those Easters when we all got dressed in our Easter clothes. Back then, jackets and ties were common even for young boys. Every female was in a dress, from the tiniest infant to the most senior matriarch. On Easter Sunday, those dresses were often new, normally frilly and often accompanied by a white hat and white gloves.

We packed into our little church house and excitedly watched as the ushers had to bring in extra folding chairs. Some of my favorite songs were reserved for that day and I always thrilled to the choir singing their most special of "special music."

After the pastor preached, we loaded up in the family car and headed back out to the little farm. We normally spent Easter Sunday afternoon surrounded by extended family. The food was great and plentiful, playing was fun and we stored up a lifetime's worth of memories.

There was more about Easter when I was growing up. However, I save some of it for later in the week. I know that the day we celebrate Easter is still almost two weeks away...but I'm planning something special for next week.

In the meantime, what were your family traditions for Easter Sunday? AND, my Jewish friends, what were your family traditions around Passover?

I look forward to this week.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Today's The Day

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear Zoodle!
Happy Birthday to you!

We love your smiles;
You're happy as a lark!
But it's been two months
Since we played in the park!
So, Chickie, please help us,
You cutie-pie, you!
Give Zoodle hugs from Grammy,
And from Sampa, too!