Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ Alone

Happy Easter!  Christ is risen!  May this truth resound throughout your life!

Tonight at the Easter Vigil, Christ and His resurrection were proclaimed in every imaginable way, in every imaginable medium, through every word and action and song, as it should be.  From the gold and white of the vestments and the drapes on the altar and the tapestries to the white lilies all over the sanctuary to the Exsultet to the Scriptures read in darkness to the candles to the Psalms we sang to the beaming radiance on Father Michael's (and Father Wade's and Deacon Dave's) face as he placed his hands on my head and silently prayed for the Holy Spirit for me and made the sign of the cross in sweet-smelling Chrism oil on my forehead, to the hope and reverence as he held up the body of Christ and placed it in my hands, to the joy on each face as he dismissed us, to the final blessing, to walking out of the sanctuary as the Hallelujah Chorus played behind us to the glory of God, every moment proclaimed the resurrection.

I cannot fully describe everything that happened tonight.  I cried at least five separate times. Watching my new friends being baptized was one of the best parts.

I have imagined what the "laying on of hands" would feel like.  The reality was better than I ever imagined.  The oil is still on my forehead, and it smells so beautiful.  I'm laughing at myself as I scheme how I can get away with never washing my forehead again.
When Father prayed and asked that the Holy Spirit would come on me, the old, beautiful voice I've come to know seemed to smile, and said simply, "I have accepted you."

As I was waiting in my pew for the Eucharist to be given, I noticed suddenly how incredibly hungry I was.  But it was the strangest hunger I have ever had; the need and longing rose from my very soul.  I realized with a start that I wasn't physically hungry.  My soul was hungry for the Eucharist.  I must have looked so strange sitting there with this befuddled look on my face as I figured it out and as I then forced myself to sit still and wait.  I've waited nine months, and longed for the Eucharist nearly every day.  But I had never before needed it like I did.

My hands shook a bit when I finally approached Father Michael.  I cannot remember ever seeing anyone look so deeply, genuinely full of joy as he held up the bread for me and said, "The body of Christ."

I held out my hands and replied, "Amen."  Then he placed the body of Christ in my hands.  I'm glad I've watched so many people take Communion; otherwise it would not have been beyond me to just stand there and stare at the body of Christ in my hands, speechless.  As it was, instinct took over, and I put the wafer in my mouth.

Eric asked me later to describe how I felt, admonishing me with a smile, "You're an English minor.  Use your words."  But for Eucharist...

... there are no words.  No words.  There are no words.

The mind just waits in silence when the soul leaps in glorious joy.   Maybe that's why we simply say, "Amen."

The joy is overwhelming.  I do not have the resources to handle the magnitude of the beauty, the glory, the magnificent depth and width and height of the gift God has provided.  Maybe that's why we have a word: Alleluia.

As a mathematics major, I offer the following summary of the night:

Lord, Your glory is overwhelming; Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.  Thank You, thank You, thank You, thank You.

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