Surrender and Gratitude

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries

"Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude."
St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897) Carmelite Nun

Eastertide has always been a season of activity for my family and me. The season always falls in the spring which means it holds both Sophie's and Eli's birthdays. Spring means the end of the school year and the busyness that brings. Sunday mornings in chapel and church school are full as we try to squeeze in those Bible lessons before everyone goes off to camp and vacation during the summer. In the adult forum we hear the spiritual journeys of our beloved Easter People, and we listen to our high school-aged parishioners share their experiences of past mission trips and the excitement of the one coming up just around the corner. Creation itself seems to join us (or lead us) into great activity as the earth moves out of sleepy, quiet winter and into life-giving, bright springtime. It is no wonder I find myself busier than ever this time of year.

However, when I read the Biblical passages of Jesus after his resurrection I do not hear a call to busyness at all. Jesus' greeting to his disciples and friends in each resurrection encounter is "Peace..." He does call us to go and make disciples of all people but not at first. At first he says, "Peace." What a wonderful gift he is giving us, peace.

As I try to live more and more each Easter season as an Easter Person, one who believes that nothing can separate us from Love, and as I try to raise my children with this same perspective, I am tempted, so tempted, to go into action. I must try and find an activity, a discipline, and event that will really make an impact. Our family will bring the risen Love of God into the world by DOING (fill in the blank) from now on!

Jesus says, "Peace..." or "Receive my peace."

Peace is exactly what we need to receive as the first sign of new life, as peace is oxygen to our souls. Without it we cannot function as healthy spiritual beings. We must take peace in regularly. For a "doer" like me that means being still at least once a day. In my stillness I let go, surrender. Once I am still I find I naturally give thanks. When I do this I notice that I feel stronger spiritually. My anxiety is less and my busy life does not feel heavy. All the activities spring brings are not tasks on my to-do list but are moments when I can give and receive love. I try to teach my children the same practice, for they live in an anxious time. At only 13 and 16 years old they and their friends use words like, "stressed out" or "over worked." I hear my younger friends too at only four, eight, or 11 years old say, "I just need to relax." I look at the world beyond my own daily life and see many other "doers" busy at work.

There is a good deal of work to do if we are to really spread the Good News that Christ is risen. The world is starved to taste and know the love of God, a love greater than anything else. However, we cannot do that work if we are exhausted. If we have learned anything during Lent, let it be the power and necessity of surrender. If we hear anything from our risen Lord let it be, "Peace." Once filled, let us give thanks. Maybe then we will be ready to spring into action.

Happy Easter!