Growing up, Easter was a special time. My brother Doug and I would always get a new suit, haircut and shiny new shoes. We would get up early and rush around the house trying to locate our special Easter basket and Easter eggs. There would be a mad dash to finish our breakfast and off to Elmwood Presbyterian Church to listen to Reverend Rose bellow out his message of salvation.
Easter also meant a big afternoon dinner. My Mom would bake a large ham with scalloped potatoes and green beans. After finishing dinner we would jump in the car and visit family.
During most of my church life, God to me, was that God formulated during those early years of Elmwood Presbyterian Church. Reverend Rose was a very large and imposing figure in his black robes and booming voice. He talked of sin and hell. To be honest I was afraid of him. My vision of God was definitely of the Old Testament with his servant Saint Peter standing at the gates of Heaven checking off good vs bad deeds to see whether you were worthy to enter. God in my mind resembled the English king of old, authoritarian and unreachable. It wasn’t until I really started reading the Bible and studying the New Testament that I began to formulate a new vision of God. I began to realize that by looking at Jesus, I could see God.
Reverend Hudson helped me to understand how God came to each of us in the Spirit which then becomes the microphone to God’s ear. Reverend Ranney showed me that God wanted to be in a personal relationship with me. I now understand that St. Peter stands at the gates of Heaven welcoming all who believe in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross rather than what shows up on a ledger book.
Reverend Steve talks about sitting upon God’s lap and putting your arms around Him. My vision of God is now that of the loving Father not of the authoritarian King. I understand that He does want to be in relationship with me and to do that I need to talk to Him. I know He hears me through prayer and I know that He loves and cares about me.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Printed for St. Mark Presbyterian's 2015 Lenten Devotional with permission of B. Cranston