I grew up in a Christian home.
Oh, there weren’t daily family devotions and we didn’t all hold hands while reciting grace around the supper table. As I remember, grace was optional unless we had company; then it often fell upon me to impress the guests by reciting the Norwegian Table Prayer taught to me by my Aunt Esther.
“I Jesu navn gar vi til bords a spise, drikke pa ditt ord. Deg, Gud til aere, oss til gavn,
Sa far vi mat i Jesu navn. Amen.
No, we were not overtly religious but mom did make sure all of her boys went to church every week and was especially proud that her middle son, me, managed to attain 15 years perfect attendance and was recognized by the church big wigs for doing so. I received a certificate and everything. I know a few times when I was sick but went to Sunday School anyway to keep the record intact.
Mom also made sure that her boys wouldn’t be totally embarrassed when Easter morning arrived and none of us had put any money in the Lenten Coin Containers we’d been issued at the beginning of Lent to be filled with spare change for the poor. She always managed to make sure those cans weren’t empty when we marched up front with the rest of our Sunday School class to deposit them on the altar.
The Lunds lived with the image of Jesus in our living room It was a print of the famous painting by German artist, Heinrich Hofmann, “Christ in Gethsemane.” For years, I didn’t pay much attention to it because, you know, familiarity causes things to disappear into their surroundings. Mom, though, thought so much of it she insisted that it be the background for our first and only family Christmas card photo. “The Lord and the Lunds wish you a Merry Christmas.” No..it didn’t actually say that but images are important and I’m sure mom wanted all our friends and relatives to know that we weren’t heathens.
It was the same painting, on a much smaller scale of course, that graced the altar at First Lutheran. (Still does)
Sometimes while day dreaming in church..like on Stewardship Sunday..I’d stare at that image and think about the situation that inspired the artist. I’d wonder if Jesus knew the reason he was put on this earth ( To die for sinners) why did he beg the old man to be let off the hook; praying so fervently to have the cup removed that he sweat drops of blood. Looking at that picture made me see the human side of Jesus; how he was understandably afraid of what was expected and soon to befall him; betrayal, humiliation, torture and a lingering painful death hanging from a cross. I can certainly understand why the idea of being a savior didn’t seem all that appealing when it came time to actually follow through on the deal. He did what I would do, ask dad to protect him from injury and pain. Christ’s anxiety was short lived, though. In the same prayer, he soon accepted the responsibility of his existence saying, “Not my will but yours be done.” The Gospel writer, Luke, says God then sent down an angel to give his boy the strength to endure the hours ahead.
I can’t help but feel that, had I been there, I probably would have been like the Disciples; asleep in the background while all that was going on and later denying the Master in order to save my own skin. I’m like a lot of us, big on promises..short on proving up. But, he didn’t shirk his responsibility, and because of it.. we have the luxury of being irresponsible and unreliable and yet forgiven. As much as I hate the very thought of pain and suffering, I’m mighty glad that The Father allowed it to happen to his only son. But gladder still that in a short three days, the story would have a happy ending.
Wishing you all a Blessed Easter.