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Pictures on God’s Refrigerator: Easter Message Reprised

by Mary Domb Mikkelson

MaryDombMikkelson3Easter, 2017, was going to be different.  That much I knew.  I was, after all, a couple of hundred miles from home with neither brunch nor dinner to prepare.  Nor did church  have to be wedged between setting a festive table and hiding plastic eggs!  Alleluia!

We – son Andy, daughter-in-law Stacy and I, visitors all – arrived early for the 10:00am service at the Church of the Foothills (UCC) in Ventura, CA.  The “welcomes”  – an enticing breakfast spread, a visitor bag (with a luscious lemon cake!), friendly greetings and good conversation commenced immediately:  the UCC’s tradition of extravagant welcome embodied.

Settling into the sanctuary brought more discoveries and pleasures, among them a few surprises – for example,  the pastor, Kris Bergstrom, had twenty-four years earlier been the Principal at Stacy’s school.  Other friends and co-workers were among the worshipers as well.  What’s that bit about six degrees of separation?

It’s a lovely sanctuary – soaring, light-filled, conducive to worship.  There is about it a sense of openness and flow.  Then, on a strictly secular level, there were the envy-inducing chairs.  Out came the cell phone and off went a photo to the man in charge of planning the revamp of my home church’s sanctuary.  “These!  Please!”

Filled to overflowing – and blessed with an organist, a string quartet and a 33-member  choir (or was it 34?) which spawned two ensembles (Trinity and Double Forte), the sanctuary resonated with the music of the season.  For openers, of course, the classic:

Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Beautiful.  For me, especially as caroled by a young girl – 11?  12? – across the aisle.  She had no need of a hymnal.

We were blessed, too, with the melodic beauty of “O Praise the Lord with Heart and Voice” from Haydn’s masterpiece, The Creation, “The Gift of Love,” “Christ is Risen” and “Rejoice, the Lord is King.”

Beautiful, too, the Invocation which “proclaimed the good news this Easter morning that You are still speaking” and the Response, the Millers’ “Let there be peace on earth,”  with its vow, “…to live each moment with peace eternally.”

The assurance of  love and connection  – with one and all and with God – filled the room, flowing – there’s that word again! – freely through music, prayer and sermon.  Perhaps nowhere more meaningfully than in the Children’s Message.  Did you know that God has a refrigerator?  And that on it God has pictures of you and you and you?  Why?  Because God loves you, that’s why!   God’s love for us is the story, the message of Easter – and not just for the kids!

A message we carried gladly out into the world with us.  Along with memories of other special moments, many child related – such as the joyful sounds of the egg hunt just outside midway through worship, the delight of the little guy who barreled down the aisle shouting, “Happy Easter Bunny Day!”

May we, too, “barrel” forward as we continue forth “to take each moment and live each moment with peace eternally.”

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