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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A year without Easter

Easter didn't come for me that year. For the second consecutive year we had buried a day-old son, a child for whom we had ardently prayed.

My lips formed the words of the Easter hymns. But there was no song in my heart, so cold and numb it was. I spoke the words of the Apostles' Creed. But my faith in God's goodness and the promise of resurrection was
faltering.

"Take comfort that your child is with God," one well-meaning friend said. But I found no comfort when all I wanted was to hold my baby. "How wonderful that your little one could go to be with God right at Easter," another said. But I saw nothing wonderful in that.

The jubilant hymns, the cross bedecked with flowers--these only left me feeling colder and more desolate, this second Easter of grief.

Our baby girl cuddled in my arms the next year. And although my heart sang because I held her, the Easter message still didn't come to me. And it didn't for a long time. I can't remember the hour or day, or even the year, when Easter dawned again. I know only that it was a long, searching and painful journey.

But I'm grateful for the journey. It made me aware of the many others in our pews on Easter for whom Easter has not come. And I'm conscious of the need to speak to them in their need--to give them words of reassurance. To tell them that Easter will come, in time. That God does love them although they find it hard to believe in this love. That there is hope for them although they despair. That it's all right if they don't feel like rejoicing because doubt, sorrow, grief, anger and depression--and other unwelcome emotions--are all part of the journey that leads to Easter.

Tears from the faltering, the perplexed, the grieving can be just as appropriate as alleluias. And when Easter finally does come to them, it may be more truly Easter for them than for those who don't know that a year may come when Easter will not.


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