Giving thanks…

On Easter, I challenged myself and the congregation of Graceview, to give thanks. That might sound like a message more suited to a time of year when the leaves are changing and the harvest is being reaped. But the message and the challenge came from a conversation with a colleague in which we both felt that everything – absolutely everything – we have to be thankful about, comes from the resurrection. That moment when the tomb is empty, when life has triumphed over death, when we are reconciled to God, that moment when the world is made new.

Worship was wonderful on Easter Sunday, and then I got some time off to rest and recuperate (Easter takes a lot out of us clergy folk!). And as the week progressed, I realized over and over again how much I had to be grateful for – how many moments in which and for which I could give thanks.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Driving to my folks’ place for Easter dinner with my dear friends, Luke and Naiel (and Koski, of course!):

Easter dinner with family and friends:

Walks with Koski and Gambler and Luke and Naiel:

Singing with Dad:

Celebrating a friend’s birthday:

Worshipping at The Meeting House Uptown Toronto:

And the unexpected gift of spending an afternoon singing with friends:

These really are just the highlights. There were also wonderful naps (rest!), movies enjoyed with friends, some hard workouts at the gym (getting stronger!), Starbucks runs, time to veg on the couch at home, and time to prepare healthy food for the week ahead.

My cup runneth over with good things.

And I find myself back to more normal routines and ready to serve God with energy and joy that only comes from having some down-time.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So, quite simply, I say: thank you, Lord.

Risen, indeed…

So here’s the thing: I’m not a morning person. I’ve seen a number of sunrises in my life, but given the option I’d prefer a sunset any day. I admire people who rise early and get a start on the day, but I’m not one of them.

And yet, my alarm went off at 5:30am today. I got dressed, got breakfast into my dog and headed out the door with the things I needed to make it through the morning. I arrived at the church by 6:20am and was climbing the hill in Centennial Park by 6:30am. The moon was still up, and bright, though the eastern sky was glowing with pre-dawn light.

It was cold, and there was a bitter wind that made it colder. But as we gathered and as we began to read the story, as we sung the Easter hymns and the sun shone on the faces of those in attendance – it was worth it. It was not only beautiful, it was holy.

To be there. To be together. To be proclaiming what the followers of Jesus have been proclaiming since that very first resurrection morning more than two thousand years ago: Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

And that was just the beginning of day.

A wonderful (much warmer and also holy) service took place at Graceview at 10:30am. Complete with a flower cross and a presentation by the children. The music was beautiful, the fellowship warm, and thinking on it many hours later – I just cannot stop smiling.

Once the service was over, my friends and I stopped by my condo to pick up my dog and my luggage. Then we road-tripped out to my parents’ place where we shared a glorious turkey dinner, lots of laughs, and time spent with family (chosen and blood).

I am blessed. This entire day has been blessed. All because He is risen!

The Lenten season has come to a close, the Easter season (50 days after Resurrection Sunday) has begun!