Easter Dawn and the Pastor Was Tapping Her Feet

The pastor was tapping her feet. Nervously. I knew the words she was speaking meant something to her. I knew they meant more to me because of that.

It was Easter dawn and about thirty of us had woken early and driven to Elmwood Cemetery. I myself had listened to the weather forecast the night before to see how much of a struggle it would be. But the eastern sky from the kitchen window of our farmhouse was glory itself. Like the first morning—God’s recreation of the first sky. That soft glow of glory followed me to the cemetery.

Somebody has to be last. It was me, and it seemed that the pastor and people were waiting just for me.

I took my place at the rear or the company gathered in the open gazebo.
We confessed our sins. Then the empty tomb story was proclaimed from the Gospel of John: Women were there first—faithful as always. Peter and John running there, trying to catch up with history in the making. Peter just peeping. Both of them in over their heads–believing without understanding. They will not understand, but when Jesus breathes upon them they will have peace in not understanding.

Then the pastor led us in thoughts of our own little faith. Looking at graves, hoping for something we are too small to understand.

And when she spoke of a death and burial and wishing and hoping of her own – out of her own real experience and memory, she tapped her foot. I knew that tapping. I knew how I tap and breathe deeply and fidget with my papers and look about without seeing when I am coping with a tsunami of feeling. When I am taken somewhere I am not prepared to handle. When I am walking around a corner in the jungle and catch something out of the corner of my eye and I know it is something alive, but I know not what.

I got the message. This is all way beyond us. This is personal. This is why we are here at such an unusual time and at such an unusual place. This is calling us.

The 30 or so people in the gazebo all had carefully prepared words and music to follow. When you are up that early you need to have something prepared. But in the very center of all of that there was something none of us are prepared for. It makes us fidget and sigh and breath in more deeply. It makes us uncomfortable.

Thank you Pastor for tapping your foot.

About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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