I walked into church on Ash Wednesday with my left arm attached low to my little toddler, like normal. She had her little excited blessing bag skip, but her fast pace stopped short as her head cocked back and she pointed her little finger up. “Ooh . . . tree,” she said.
The beautiful wooden tree stopped me too. My walk was less of an excited skip and more of a fast-paced trudge as I blew in with to-do lists on my mind and the day’s cares on my back. Somehow the tree showed both of us that tonight was special. As the service closed and we started shaking neighbor’s hands, she posed the question, “Mama, doughnuts?” I leaned down to her level and said, “No honey, no doughnuts tonight.”
I might as well have said I was going to burn all the toys in the world . . . “NOOOO! Doughnuts! Doughnuts!” she wailed while throwing her head back over a body that was instantly full of Jell-O bones.
Yes, normally we enjoy a donut after church, but my little tantrum-thrower had to learn that evening worship services are different. As we finish up lent and move into the Easter season, we might have a bit of an anticipation hangover ourselves. This was all building, building, building, and the flowers and the music and everything of Easter Sunday was full of life . . . but, following that celebration we might feel a little like asking, “Where are the donuts?” It’s normal Monday, and normal life lines up. Good Friday and Easter teach us in a visceral way that nothing is required–Christ did it, and from that freedom is born our deepest sense of calling. If I even begin to–even slightly–wrap the tiniest corner of my mind around the cost of that freedom, it leaves me spinning.
The cost of grace could–if we don’t sit with it for awhile–scare us into “off the hook” thinking. But, if we wait, let it simmer, sense the deep that the word “grace” points to, the only response is to humbly, gladly, realize we aren’t here for the donuts–the music, the lacy dresses, even the Easter eggs–we are here to be changed and empowered by a God who even today has hands and feet in this world. Ours.
How does this normal Monday look different in response to a love like that?