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My Easter Blessings

It is now late the night of Easter Sunday as I count some blessings from this weekend:

Thursday evening, my wife and I were preparing to go to the Maundy Thursday service when I received a phone call from a family member of one of my Stephen Ministry Care Receivers (CR).  The Hospice Coordinator managing care for my CR urged his daughter to contact me.  Faced with no pressing concerns, we agreed to talk Friday morning.  After our call the next morning, I felt I should make time on Holy Saturday after Morning Prayer (a.k.a. "the high holy day of the Altar Guild") and before the Easter Vigil that night to visit my CR.  Before the Good Friday noon day Stations of the Cross, I asked both our priests for permission to carry communion out on Holy Saturday.  With their blessing, the Altar Guild prepared a pyx following The Liturgy of the Day for me to pick-up after Tenebrae that evening.  However when I called my CR Friday afternoon, he declined the offer for a visit because he was feeling poorly and was not up for having any company.   So I resigned myself instead to a day of house cleaning before the Easter Vigil.  Following Morning Prayer on Holy Saturday, I updated my Rector about my CR and said the pyx prepared for me was not needed.  However, when I returned home,  my CR's daughter had left a phone message saying her father had fallen, and that he was in the hospital.  After speaking with her briefly to say I would come to the hospital, I quickly called my priest.  He asked to go with me to the hospital.  At the church, we prepared another pyx, grabbed an oil stock and a knitted prayer blanket to take with us.  I was sorry about whisking the Rector away on such short notice, however I understood his 'I can go with you. Can I go with you? Come get me' was genuine, warm, comforting, and most gracious.  At the ER, I witnessed the "authority of the collar" as we were quickly escorted back to our parishioner's room.  I expected his family would already be there, but neither he or they were in the room.  So we waited for his return.  As the gurney was wheeled in and he first saw me and then our priest, his eyes opened wide and he smiled.  Right then I knew it was right to be there.  After we visited briefly, I covered him with the prayer blanket and read the prayer card affixed to it while laying hands on him,  Then our priest said communion for the three of us, and concluded by anointing him with oil.  At that moment, his wife, daughter and son arrived.  Again, I knew it was good and right to be there.  It was an honor and a blessing to be there with my priest for my CR and his family.  The Lord does indeed work in truly marvelous and amazing ways!

At the Easter Vigil Saturday night, I chanted the Exsultet.  I had practiced in the church with lights on and in the darkness, and I thought I was ready.  I had not, however, accounted for the cloud of incense I had to wade through from the blessing of the Paschal Candle light right before I sang.  With a quick prayer, and those from others for me, I managed to do the ancient hymn of praise well while enduring a mild case of nerves and flop sweat.  I had prayed my singing could serve as a Thanksgiving for my Father, a Prayer for my CR, and a Blessing for my newest goddaughter who would soon be baptized later in the service.  I felt my prayer was heard and answered.  Only through God's Grace.  It truly was an honor and a privilege to sing this night in this way.  I hope I might do it again sometime.  Later, as we said to Caroline Grace and the two adults baptized along with her, "We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his Resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood", God's presence was close and very real to me.

On Sunday morning, I again spoke with my CR's daughter.  She said her father received the partial blood transfusion the doctor had suggested and that he was being released from the hospital to celebrate Easter at home with his family.  Thank you, God!  She and I both understand the new blood does little more than help keep his major organs functioning to some degree.  But even while the prognosis is bleak, blessings were present.  He would be at home with the ones he loves, and those who love him.  I had hoped to see him this weekend, and it happened.  Not as I planned.  Certainly not as I wanted.   But he received Holy Communion and the sacramental rite of Unction of the Sick.  And through the smile and bright eyes of a sick, beaten up and weary man, I witnessed a thankful spirit.  That was a most special blessing. 

It is Easter.  Christ has broken through death and lives again!  And that heavenly mansion readies a room for my friend.