Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Vigil

My Easter worship came last night.  This seems to be a year of liturgical firsts.  Last night my Easter worship came at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church.  It was a long Mass.  It was an interesting Mass.  I had a personal reason to be there.  My oldest daughter has decided to become part of the Roman Catholic church.  I watched her be baptized for the fourth time in her life.  I thought of her first baptism.

My husband was the first to spot her.  She stood by the side door of the church.  I looked.  I looked again, and again… I thought is that Bethany?  Her hair is now a subdued brown much like my natural hair color.  I looked several times.  Once again, it was looking in the mirror.  I thought that can’t be Bethany.  She’s a woman. 

I’ve known in my head that she’s a woman for a long time.  Yet, looking at her last night I saw myself.  I saw myself when I was that age.  I saw myself and realized I was a woman then.  I was no longer a girl.  It made me feel old for I often see myself as that age still. 

I wondered for a moment what happened to my beautiful blond haired little girl.  The one who wore pigtails.  The one who on Valentine’s Day in 1982 followed the Lord in Water Baptism along with her brother Jason. Oh the love, hopes, and prayers I had for them both that day.  I was so proud.  I prayed for the day they'd be adults serving the Lord and doing amazing things for the Kingdom.  Perhaps they'd be missionaries, or pastors.  

I’m not criticizing her decision.  It just made me wonder.  It made me sad.  It made me sad that she was rejecting the tradition of her generations.  Yet, I was also proud of her.  I was proud of her for following her heart and seeing this to completion, even though I'd prayed she wouldn't.  I was happy for her that she was happy.  I was thrilled she is seeking after God.  I prayed that she would find Him more real.

In spite of my sadness, I found the baptismal ceremony profound.  In some ways, like most things Catholic, it seemed so impersonal.  The priest didn’t know her name.  There was no joyousness as she bent her head. She was one of many.  It seemed so detached.  Yet the words were there, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  

She had renounced the devil.  She had affirmed their belief in the ancient Apostle’s Creed.  We all did.  The priest asked us all to renew our baptism.  He sealed our renewal with the sprinkling of holy water over us.  A drop hit my forehead.  My heart remembered my baptism.  My soul renewed my commitment to the faith of my mother and father.

As they anointed her for confirmation, I knew she already had the Holy Spirit residing in her.  I prayed that she would receive the gift in all its fullness.  I prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide her.

The Mass was beautiful and meaningful.  I will never know when to stand on cue or kneel.  The ritual is so ingrained in a lifelong Catholic.  Ritual is meaningful.  I’ve preached about that and you can listen to it here

I thought, I’ll probably be seeing a lot of the inside of a Catholic church now that she is Catholic.  I whispered to my husband that the next event would likely be Maria’s baptism.  I wondered if that negated her dedication to the Lord that I performed with a little water from the Jordan River when I was her Pastor Nana on Easter four years ago.

Like so many times, I went back to Bethany’s dedication.  Alone I stood.  Alone I stood and presented her to the Lord.  No husband.  He was gone.  He had beaten me while I carried her and deserted us.  My mother was there, but she was reluctant.  Her heart was not there. 

I presented her to the Lord.  Through the rebellion and chaos of her youth I would go back to that moment.  I would give her again to the Lord.  I would drive the streets of Hartford night after night, to the wee hours of the morning, looking, looking for her.  Praying that I would see a glimpse of her, that she was not dead, I would remind God of her dedication when I gave her back to Him. 

This woman who followed her heart last night is that same little girl.  I’ve given her to the Lord.  As I handed her the gift I had purchased, Rosary Beads from the Holy Land, I thought how odd it was.  For centuries no one in our generations had prayed the Rosary.  Yet, the card said it all, it said this is the beginning of great things in God.  I hope and pray that it is.  And if the Saints in Heaven do pray for us, her generations are joining in that prayer.  God's ways are not our ways, maybe this is where she'll find the risen Christ.


  1. Beautifully said, Joyce. Bless you & Latif for your willingness to see Christ's love even in the places that are foreign and unfamiliar to us. Prayers for Bethany that this will be a spiritual re-birth and an invitation to the Holy Spirit to fill her young life with serenity and peace.

  2. Jesus! That's all I know.

    Thanks, Joyce.

    My oldest daughter asked to go to church with me yesterday, the one that dance for 7 years on the streets preaching the Gospel with YWAM. She lay her head on my shoulder and we heard the message of the risen Christ. If she only know her Father like she does her daddy, life would be better for her.

    I cooked her breakfast this morning and I prayed for her.

    Kids are tough sometimes.

  3. I can understand both the struggle and the hope that you experienced. Having raised 3 kids through their teenage years as a single dad, and watch all 3 of them try to go their own way only to have the Lord draw them back "His way", which was not exactly my way, causes me to empathize with you.

    I love your blog!

    Pastor Duke Taber
    Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Pine Haven Wyoming.


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