Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ is Risen!

Another memorable Easter is coming to a close in Seoul. Today was early, to be sure, but enjoyable. My alarm rang at a rare 5:45, since I needed to catch the train that left at 6:45. I even arrived early for the 7:30 Sunrise Service, though the sun (blessedly) rose over an hour earlier. (I'm so thankful for the lengthening days. It's more cheerful to not wake up to darkness, and to enjoy the extended evenings.) Why, though, would I make the extra effort at least this one Sunday out of the year? I started thinking about it, and wanted to share what I realized...

Easters have always been special for me. As a girl growing up in a parsonage (or manse, as others call it), Sunday School, Morning Services, and Evening Services (Don't forget Wednesday night prayer meeting!) were the norm. Easter, however, we would be woken and ready to go in the dark to go to the Sunrise Service. Every other year, our church traded off with our sister church across town for Sunrise Services. This meant that not only did we get to be out of bed super early (which was fun, back then), but we also got to see people we sort of knew, but didn't see regularly, and certainly not every week, like the folks at our own church. There was also breakfast, far more substantial than the usual coffee and doughnuts, and the whole experience (kudos to Mom and Dad for making it so) was nearly magical. I don't know if we fully understood why, exactly, we met at sunrise on Easter until later, but it was special, nonetheless. One extra-memorable Easter Sunday, some in our family were devastated to learn that they couldn't go to the Sunrise Service - Mom found chicken pox. Those of us without were relieved that we'd escaped... Until the telltale signs appeared on us 2 weeks later.

I don't recall that we had Sunrise Services at our next church, but as I grew older, I was better able to understand and appreciate the significance of Easter, including sunrise at Easter, the time when Jesus returned to life, complete with an earthquake and a stone that angels rolled away. (There were also other dead people who left their graves at the earthquake and walked around the city. Bet you didn't notice that in Sunday School... I sure didn't notice that until later, but how crazy-awesome is that?!?!?)

Another memorable Easter was in my freshman year of college - I'd visited New York City with a school trip over Spring Break, and was fascinated by the place. It didn't take too much work to convince my older brother that we should go back at the next possible chance - Easter Break. That Easter, we were with a pastor's family that we knew by various ways and means. (Okay, my dad was friends with their dad, and we knew the family from summer camp.) We went to their 8:30ish chilly outdoor sunrise service, long after sunrise, and enjoyed breakfast afterward with a variety of New Yorkers. Other things happened that day, including spending time with good friends and making memories, but that was a trip to remember, for certain.

Easter in Paris was exceptional. My older sister and I escaped our unsatisfying tour group (with permission!) to meet up with missionary friends for their Easter services in the Parisian suburbs. (We didn't make it to their Sunrise Service, but 3 church plants were together for a joint service.) Worshiping and fellowshipping with the missionary family and with French brothers and sisters in Christ was thrilling. Couple the morning fellowship with an afternoon and evening of the Louvre, L'Arc de Triumphe, et Le Tour d'Eiffel, and it was one of the best days of my life. (Apart from that run-in with the weird older guy trying to proposition us... I'd rather forget that part.)

And that brings us to Korea. My first Easter here was spent at a Korean church where I was meeting up with the guest speaker, a pastor who knew my dad from England (Why, yes, pastors' kids do have pretty impressive networks, especially when their dad is as impressive as mine. ^_^). We had a nice time meeting and conversing about life in Korea, and other diverse and sundry subjects.

While I don't have particular memories about last Easter, this Easter was pretty neat. The Sunrise Service (my attendance, I realized, was inspired by memories of childhood Sunrise Services) was good, and the following breakfast was delicious and filling, with plenty of food and fellowship. I may have been drinking more coffee than usual today, but it's been a good day of fellowship, learning, and resting.

May your Easters also be filled with awareness of the great gift, sacrifice, and miracle that is Christ's death and resurrection.

He is risen, indeed.

-Miss Chatters

Friday, March 22, 2013

Life Imitating Art

If you have known me in the past 4 years, you likely know that I enjoy watching Korean (And Taiwanese, and Japanese) tv shows, often called 'dramas'. No, they're not soap operas, at least, not the ones I watch, and they sometimes have great stories. Now, while I enjoy watching somewhat dramatic things on my tv/computer screen, I don't enjoy when they happen to me in real life.

Two years ago, my brother came to visit me in Seoul. Now, sometimes you watch a drama and see people go through sooo many near misses that you scoff, saying "That never happens in real life." Nope. It really happens. And let me tell you, it's frustrating and irritating when it does happen. (It all worked out, so it was a comedy, not a tragedy, but it has gone down in the family annals.)

Now, if I tell you a story about a vital, lively widower who found a second chance for love with a widow who was his student many years past, you might sigh and smile at the sweetness of the story. But if I throw in a wrench and tell you that the widower tragically dies less than a year after their wedding, you might tell me that I'm being melodramatic and unrealistic or unfair and overly tragic. I wish. That vital, lively widower was a man I've known for nearly a decade as "Uncle Ed." I knew his first wife, and all who knew them were shocked when she died 3 years ago, within a week of contracting pneumonia. We were happy for him when he introduced a beautiful, gracious lady at church, and married her last June.

When we heard that he'd contracted pneumonia early this year, our hearts twinged, remembering the death of his first wife. It was a serious battle, but when I was home in February, he seemed to be on the mend. Just this week, I started to realize that he was not going to make it. He passed away only a few days ago. He had lived a full, productive life, but it still seemed unfair to him and his new bride, that their time together was cut off abruptly, that their happiness in their new love would be washed with the trial of a long, losing battle with death.

I know that I'll see Uncle Ed again. He was a staunch believer in Christ, and spent much of his life teaching others to know Him, too. Knowing this doesn't mean that I won't miss him, though, and, thousands of miles away, I deal with the pain of knowing that a man that I loved like a grandfather, who loved me and prayed for me regularly, is no longer in this world.