As I write this column, we are almost three weeks into the Easter season. When I was a child, I didn’t know that there was an Easter season; in the church I attended, Easter was a single day. But in the larger Church, Easter is a seven-week season that lasts from Easter Sunday until Pentecost (which this year is May 31). It is the perfect time to reflect on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus — and to ask what they mean for our lives.
Perhaps more than anything else, what God has done in Christ is an invitation to grace. The God Jesus revealed is a God of grace. In word and deed, Jesus invited people to ground our lives in the grace and mercy and love of God. To say the same thing another way, we are invited to be children of God and heirs of the kingdom. There are many things which would distract us from this life which God wants for us: greed, ego, self-centeredness, sickness, quarantine, isolation, fear — the list is virtually endless. But if we will close out those distractions long enough to listen, God constantly invites us to grace.
Max Lucado has written a little book whose subtitle is, “Thoughts on God’s Great Grace” (the book is “The Gift for All People”). He tells about a friend who took his family to Disney World. It was very hot, so they took refuge from the heat in Cinderella’s castle, only to discover that seemingly everyone else in the park had had the same idea. Suddenly all of the children rushed to one side. Max said that had it been a boat, it would have tipped over. Cinderella had entered. The children pressed in on the princess, wanting to be greeted or to be touched on the head.
The only child not among the throng was a boy who looked to be 7 or 8 years old. He had apparent developmental disabilities, which manifested in his face and his body; among other things, he was in a wheelchair. You could see in his eyes his longing to be among the other children, his longing to be touched by the princess. You could also see that Cinderella had spotted him. With all the children around her, she had to move slowly, in baby steps, but she started making her way toward that boy. She never stopped speaking to the other children; she kept greeting them and making them feel special and touching them on the head or shoulder. But slowly, resolutely, she kept moving toward that boy. When she finally arrived, she knelt so that she could look into his eyes. As she spoke to him, he beamed; when she kissed him on the cheek, he could have floated away like a helium-filled Mickey Mouse balloon.
That is a parable about God. God speaks to every child of God. God touches the life every child of God. I was so fortunate to grow up in the arms of the church, which taught me to move toward God to receive this touch and this blessing and this word. But maybe that wasn’t your experience. Maybe because of circumstances or maybe because of choices (or some of both), you have been unable or unwilling to move toward God. The Easter season is a reminder, a warning, a sign, that God has spotted you; and resolutely, determinedly, caringly, God is coming to you. Because there is this conviction deep in the heart of God that the kingdom would not be complete without you.