This Easter story began on a spring evening with a thundering crash that jolted me out of bed. It was 10:45 p.m., and I was sleepily watching TV. I hurried to the window and peered through the blinds. Was it a rumble of thunder? A sonic boom? Maybe the owner of the pickup parked across the street decided to fire up the engine and spew out 25 years' worth of carbon buildup in one uproarious rev?
My head clouded with sleep, I decided to go back to bed. I turned off the TV and lamp and closed my eyes. Less than a minute later, the doorbell rang. I don't know about you, but I'm not a welcoming host when visitors show up on my doorstep late at night.
Rushing to the front door, I cautiously looked through the peephole. I couldn't see anyone. On my way back to the bedroom, I looked toward the picture window in the living room. Staring back at me like a glowering Cyclops was a car's headlight. A car was pressed against our porch.
I hurriedly called 911 and waited. Outside I could hear voices. Was a carload of joy-riding, high-on-drugs juveniles on the other side of the door?
Within minutes a neighbor called. Those voices, she said, belonged to my neighbors. Opening the front door, I discovered a banged-up, beep-beep-beeping Chevy. Its keys were still in the ignition. The car had barreled up the bend of the street, jumped the curb, sideswiped one of my massive oak trees and ended up by our porch. Neighbors said two young men had jumped out and run away.
In the cool night air, my wife, our neighbors and I talked about the near misses. A bit farther to the left and the driver would have plowed head-on into the oak. To the right and he would have smashed into the garage. Either way would have resulted in serious injury or death. Thankfully, no one was hurt and our house sustained no major damage.
An hour later the car was removed by a wrecker, and the police finished their investigation.
The next day I called an arborist to examine our 40-year-old, 40-foot oak and the 2-by-4-foot section of bark that had been sheered off. His diagnosis stunned me: "It's a fatal wound." In the wild, an oak might live 250 years, he said. In an urban setting, maybe half that long. He thought my oak might only live another 20 years, maybe less, because the exposed wood would allow insects to get under the bark and finish it off.
In the following days I cleaned up broken car parts and planted grass seed to fill in the small holes and deep, nasty gashes. I repaired a downspout and gently replanted a holly bush that had all but been ripped from the ground. In time, God's good earth will heal most of the wounds and restore much of the beauty. But the damage has been done, and an oak tree awaits nature's ultimate fate.
Out of death comes life.
From destruction comes rebirth.
Our lives, with deep wounds and nasty scars, are damaged. We wonder whether they ever can be completely repaired. The recklessness of others, unforeseen disasters and our own wanton disregard for righteous living expose the raw core that will decay.
Then, One whose own wounds and scars are clearly visible stoops to help. With patient love and careful tending, he reshapes the ugly tears and eases the emotional pain that saps the life out of us. Even with such care, our wounds are still fatal. Death is inevitable. But something's different with this caretaker. He discloses his identity and offers hope that will not disappoint: "The acorn, buried in the Earth, has risen to life. Love is the Victor. Death is not the end."
Look closely. Can you see the signs of resurrection? This is the story of Easter and the promise of our rebirth.
A feast for all? Most readers say the trend toward lower communion age is a good thing. (Photo at right.)
'Jesus for the road': Ellie says she tucks half a communion wafer away to help her remember 'Jesus loves me.'
'I say commune them all!' Readers offer a variety of opinions on early-age communion.
In Slovakia, center rekindles faith: Lutherans serve with a school, summer programs and more.
Also: Sign of the times.
Also: The Exodus event.
Also: At the communion rail.
Join Jennifer Ollikainen (right), ELCA associate for worship resources, to discuss the trend toward early age communion.
Baxter on immigration:
Baxter, a student at Pacific Lutheran Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., is serving an internship at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Oakland, Calif. He's blogging about his internship experience for The Lutheran.
On our staff blog:
Kathleen Kastilahn (right) writes about leap day.
The March issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived:
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