At the beginning of this year, Stephen and I were praying over James 4:13-15, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'” We created a “goals” list for 2016 which is on our bedroom wall under the title If the Lord wills we will live & do.
Honestly, we set relatively low goals. Most days we are just trying to maintain status quo and love well in this community. And as we watch our families’ lives march on, conquering multiple jobs, selling and buying and building houses, starting business, having (more!) babies…I’ve struggled with my list. It’s small. It’s just living and loving this little community that someday we’ll walk away from, unsure of what seeds have taken root from all the planting and watering.
Even so, we wanted to just vocalize the dreams we feel like God has put before us. And one of the simple goals we set is this: celebrate Easter well, as a couple & as a community.
Honestly, I feel like we’ve really fallen in love with Christmas here. And even fallen into a sync with it. We are able to share the Christmas story each year, we are able to get gifts for hundreds of our dear friends, we have a huge community meal, we have carolers from local churches coming night after night. We had a candlelit carols night and a worship night; we had a Christmas movie night. We had time as a couple. We walked through an Advent together. It felt meaningful, generous, & full.
But Easter–Easter still lacks some flair. I feel like it often gets overlooked somewhat by many of the communities around us. We build up the birth of Christ, but we miss his death and resurrection.
So this year, we set out to celebrate well: between the two of us; in this little neighborhood that surrounds us; and in the expat community of Mae Sot.
In House Church, we have been walking through the Gospels since Christmas, and just shared Jesus’ washing the disciples feet the week before Easter. For Easter week, we had church outside, where we could use a sound system and hopefully keep the kids’ attention & encourage additional ears to listen in. We adapted the idea of Resurrection Eggs into bags for the kids to help open. We had a cup & crackers for the Passover meal, money for the betrayal, flowers for the Garden of Gethsemane, a “whip” (a fake leather belt) and “crown of thorns” (thorny rose stems jumbled together), three nails, a white cloth, stones (pieces of concrete from the yard; we were thinking creatively!); and the last bag was empty, to represent the empty tomb. The kids really enjoyed opening the bags, and since they got to keep what was inside, the little girl who got the money was pretty excited!
We finished with a special snack of sausage & cucumbers for the whole community. After the arrest of Daw Ma Oo last week, her daughter-in-law, San Aye, was nervous to sell at her pork shop. Since she wouldn’t have any business for the week, we asked her to cook sausages for House Church. It was fun to see the community functioning holistically, and despite the fishy smell that filled our house that evening…It felt special, and that was the goal!
On Saturday night, we had our monthly OneHouse worship night for the expat community. We then woke up early Sunday morning and headed out to the local reservoir with a host of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and coffee. We had invited the expat community to join us for a “sunrise” service at 7:30.
Stephen did such a great job throughout the weekend leading everyone, and it was such a great way to celebrate Easter. We also had our friend John visiting from the US, and he was so kind to come along despite all that we had filled the weekend with!
So while I look at our list, the goals are simple. But I’m so thankful for the opportunity to see the Easter story resounding in our neighborhood.