Today is Easter Sunday. The whole Christian world rejoices in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I must confess, however, that the joy I would normally feel at recalling the Resurrection of the Lord is tempered by two things: the sad news that my dear friend Lauren passed away Thursday afternoon after a long and painful battle with cancer; and by my own medical problems that have made me a virtual shut-in for weeks now.
Yet my faith in that same Resurrection of the Lord gives me hope that one day, by the grace of God, I too may rise to the glory and beauty of eternal life with Christ in a new and glorified body free from pain, suffering, disability, or defect of any kind; and that Lauren will enjoy all eternity in communion and fellowship with the God she loved, sought, and served with all her heart. She was the kind of person who radiated the love and joy of Christ everywhere she went and in everything she did.
This was actually Lauren's second bout with cancer. She was first diagnosed several years ago, had extensive surgery and radiation, and made a recovery that was nothing short of miraculous, thanks to her own rock-solid faith in Christ and the love, support, and prayers of those around her. She seemed healthy for several years and resumed a normal life, but when this recurrence of cancer was diagnosed a few months ago, it was just too much for her to overcome, despite extensive treatment.
I recall one Sunday several years ago after Lauren was first diagnosed, or perhaps it was after the cancer had gone into remission--that Lauren, in her role as music director for our parish, stood up and sang the old Gospel hymn "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" as a post-Communion meditation. It was so beautiful that it sent shivers down my spine. I think it was her declaration that she was going to trust God no matter what the future held for her. I think of that song now as I think of Lauren. Here is a version of the song as performed by Ethel Waters as Berenice Sadie Brown in the 1952 film The Member of the Wedding with Julie Harris as Frankie Addams and Brandon De Wilde as John Henry:
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free
For His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.
The Resurrection of Christ sets us free. Let us not merely be happy, but joyful in the face of it. A joyful Easter to all of you!