I hold a very specific picture of Easter services in my mind. So many memories of being seated with my family, light streaming into our church, and the congregation rising to sing one of the most joyous hymns of the faith:
Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
One can feel the excitement and wonder building in the congregation. Hands raise here and there, heads thrown back as if to see what lies above.
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Even before the pastor begins to preach, even before the first passage of Scripture is read to the waiting worshippers, we celebrate one of the great miracles of our faith.
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!
I love Christmas for its promise, but I love Easter for its radiant joy. Christ is indeed alive, and on Resurrection Sunday, it feels as though the very stones will cry out from the vastness of the wonder and celebration. Christ has resurrected from the dead, we who were dead in our sins can live!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Triumphant indeed. Christ has conquered sin and death. We are alive. We are alive in Him. Now let us go forth and celebrate!
The word “silence” often has negative connotations. When we speak of keeping silent, there’s an implied thought that the person of whom we speak lacks the courage to say something, or that we are forcing someone to stifle themselves.
Not always so. If we are to truly think something over, we need to have some silence. All the noise in our lives and the clamor of our own thoughts can drown out that still small voice. And frankly, if we don’t allow ourselves some quiet for reflection, it can be hard to learn or to appreciate the wisdom of others. Some of my days fly so rapidly by that I worry I don’t always even see others properly.
And then there’s the silence of awe. Sometimes a piece of music reaches so deeply that I am awed into reverent silence. Likewise when I find myself marveling over some amazing piece of creation for the first time.
Reverence, wisdom, awe, and wonder – all manner of amazing things grow and flourish in the silence.
And here is a modern, but very simple version of a song that makes me stop and wonder almost every time I hear it:
Written in five minutes as part of 31 Days
When I saw the prompt to kick of this month of writing, my first thought on seeing the word “calling” was of the classic hymn “Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling.”
This beautiful song was a favorite of my grandmother and her sisters, and I remember hearing them sing it while working in the kitchen with them as a child. So often when we speak of callings, we speak of what we as people are being called to do.
As I listen to the old hymn, I feel reminded that God has indeed “tenderly called” us. Being called by God crafts all that we are and being mindful of that calling should direct our steps. I’m not that old yet, but as I look at life so far, I can see that the paths I have taken have led me places I never thought I’d go and allowed me to find joy in places that the secular world has taught me not to look. I can’t pretend that I always know the plan, but the older I get, the more I want to seek after the One who called me.
And yes, I have had some tough times, but in Him, I always seem to find rest. I value rest more now than I did in, say, my teen years. And mercy, too. Praise be to God for all of these!
And since I referenced the hymn, here is a good performance of it by Alan Jackson:
As regular readers here likely know, I often join up with a special community of bloggers on for Five Minute Fridays. This month of October, I’m joining in for 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes. I’ll still be posting book reviews, but I’ll be interspersing them with the 31 Days posts. Hope you enjoy! And if you want to join in, you’ll find the whole group here!