Another Year, Another Hour
As I sit here writing this, it’s 5:40AM, and I’m sitting at an IHOP in Rockwall Texas. I had my laptop with me as I was taking it to work later this morning, and I turned it on, and discovered that the IHOP here offers free wirless internet. So you know I had to jump all over that. :)
I’m here after spending some time at church for the annual Easter vigil. I did this at my church last year as well. My wife and I started attending our church here in Garland in November of 2004, and this is the second Easter since then. It’s by far not the only times I’ve done this. I’ve participated in my church’s annual Easter vigil for as long as I can remember.
My “hour” was from 4AM to 5AM. So after downing a bunch of coffee in my truck before it was my time, I went in. My church really does a great job at making different rooms on the campus look beautiful for various reasons. This was no different. The room is made up to look like the Garden of Gasthemene (sp?) – the idea being will you honor Jesus’ request to spend an hour with him? Sure, that’s no problem. Given all the blessings I have in this life, it’s a very small price to pay. I always pick times like 3AM and 4AM, as they’re not convienient. THat’s a strong belief I have, that the time I pick to spend with Jesus is not “easy time” for me.
So I went in, I prayed, I sat, I read my Bible that I had brought with me. I wished I had done that last year, but didn’t, so I made sure I had one with me this time. As usual, it was very moving. Not that I really needed affirmation of this, but my choice to participate, and participate specifically HERE was shown to me by the others in the room with me. You the reader woudln’t know most of them, but three of them are significant. One is a fellow within the last year who was saved by Jesus after a life of drugs and I found out when leaving by looking at the schedule that he was going to be there the whole night! Now that is a committment. One of the other folks was one of the church elders, but the most important one was the Rector Emeritus for our church. Having him in there with me sharing his soul and his prayers and time with me told me I was in the right place.
Last year I felt God spoke his love to me while in prayer directly. This year, I feel that he showed me his love through the presence of Fr Ralph. I was scheduled to be there, he was not. I’m sure folks who don’t believe in God might see this as nothing, but I see it differently. God loves me, and I’m not ashamed to say it. If you’re reading this and don’t believe or love God, know he loves you too.
God bless Fr Ralph, God bless my church, God bless my wife and daughter, and God bless the folks who invented the computer systems that allow me to bring this message to you.
Join the Conversation
Joe, I think this is a really neat thing your church does to spend an hour with Jesus. I went to Good Friday Tenebrae Service tonight at our church, and The Passion Story was told through scripture readings followed by anthems sung by the choir. At the end of each scripture reading, one of the candles was extinguished and lights got dimmer in the church. When it reached time for The Burial, the Christ Candle was extinguished and the church made completely dark. Complete silence and then a men’s trio began a beautiful a capella hymn in total darkness. There was a drum that made a loud sound to signify the earth trembling when Jesus died upon the cross. It was so moving, I was brought to tears, and I only wished Ed had not had to work and could have attended with me. It was even more moving to me than the Christmas Eve service. Our handbell choir also played a hymn following The Crucifixion part of the Passion Story. All just so beautiful, so I know where’ you’re coming from. Our church does not do a vigil, but you are welcome to participate in a fast following Maundy Thursday service until Saturday morning when you can meet the pastor for breakfast at a local restaurant to “break the fast.” Anyway, I kind of rambled, but want you to know I was moved at the service tonight and was moved when I read your blog about the vigil. God bless all of you in TX and we wish we could be there to celebrate Easter and Samantha’s birthday with y’all. Miss you lots and love you all.