I recall a story passed on by Rev. Don Shelby about a Sunday School teacher making plans for her 4th grade class on Easter Sunday. She gathered enough empty plastic colored eggshells for every child in her class. One of her students, Tommy, was mentally challenge and a blessing to the class though occasionally requiring extra attention. Sometimes the children weren’t very tolerant when Tommy was slow to understand instructions. On Easter Sunday, the teacher arrived with her eggs and Tommy was the first to greet her. The teacher began by reading the Easter story and then provided directions to her class. “We are going outside with our Easter eggs, and I want each of you to put something inside your egg that reminds you of new life.”
After a period of searching the class came together, sat on the ground and shared the contents of their eggs. On girl had captured a butterfly which flew out when she opened her egg, and there were oo’s and ah’s. Another child pulled a fresh leaf from her egg and another a blooming flower. There was an audible affirmation after each revelation. Then Tommy’s turn came up. He opened his egg with a big smile …but there was nothing in it. Immediately the children began to complain, “He never understands,” “He didn’t do it right…” After several negative comments, Tommy burst out saying, “I did do it right. It was empty, It was empty. The tomb was empty.” The class fell silent. When the time for class came to an end, the plan was to have the children process their eggs and new life signs into worship and lay them on the alter. Instead, a silent class of 4th graders processed one empty egg to the communion table.
Signs of new life come in many forms. They come when we are open to wisdom from unexpected sources or when we emerge from difficult seasons and discover possibilities we had not imagined and support we had not anticipated. New life can surprise us like a shaft of light breaking through darkness or it can unfold around us as shadows fade and clarity comes. New life comes as we discover that power we attributed to tomb of our fears, our worst expectations and our broken hearts are empty. Death and illness, loss and violence do not have the last word. Life and love find a way.
May your Easter journey, bring wonder, renewal and joy.