Yesterday I attended a baptism of a young woman. The elder who was going to baptize her was dressed in white. The video prepared to play this year’s Easter Message was ready to be shown. Ward members quietly waited, but the young woman getting baptized did not show. Finally the bishop came to the podium and announced that they had an unusual situation and the young woman would not be getting baptized today. He announced that Elder _______ would introduce the video they had planned to play. The bishop would then pray, and we would be dismissed.
Elder ______, as part of his short message, shared that the Lord leads us line upon line. As we watched the Easter video, Hallelujah, my heart felt great gratitude to the Savior for his role in bearing my burdens. I have the promise of being with my parents and Andrea again. I experienced gratitude for the relief I have felt at being able to start again. To feel good again; to put behind me mistakes and misunderstandings; to heal relationships; to say, “I’m sorry” and have the feelings of guilt be gone.
After watching the video the Bishop took a few minutes and then prayed. I felt his wisdom as he invited the congregation to continue to reach out to this good sister. It was not a new call. It was one that has been offered by Jesus himself, "Feed my sheep." He then petitioned the Lord that we might know how to effectively reach this sister, to calm her fears and keep her from letting embarrassment of this one instance keep her from continuing on her journey.
What I witnessed after the prayer was faith in action. A good Sister immediately reached out - searching for where she was, as she texted friends and contacts of the young-adult sister. As the missionaries were leaving, a member of the ward’s Elders quorum approached them with great concern asking if they knew where she was. I watched an older high priest speak of the instance with a sadness and compassion that I would imagine a grandfather would have for a young granddaughter. I thought of the scripture that talked about getting baptized and how we becomw fellow citizens. Oh how I wished she was there to see the love and concern manifest in her behalf. But she was not.
Fast forward to late that same night. I am texting the family I had extended an invitation for Easter Dinner – 5 pm – earlier they had accepted. Long story short they were not planning on coming.
As I thought of these two moments I was reminded of another experience the Lord shared some 2000 plus years ago in the New Testament. The Lord of a house prepared a great feast. He then called his friends and family to the feast, but they do not come. However, the feast is prepared. And so he tells his servants to go and invite other people – strangers - into the feast. They come and partake.
As I knelt this morning I asked the Lord to make me aware of someone else that might need to be invited to Easter dinner to whom I had not extended the invitation. In the same thought process, I wonder if sometimes the Lord has a feast prepared for me and I do not come so he calls another. Into my mind comes the phrase. Like a chick gathering her hens, my arm is extended still. I feel relief at the assurance that I can come to him. I have an idea that from now on in my life the Easter decorations will include chicks as the great reminder that the Lord’s hand is stretched out still.
I feel somewhat weary as I write, and so I take off my glasses and close my eyes – after all, it is still night – well really it is early morning. My body is tired, but the Spirit is not done with me. I am compelled to action . And so I put back on my glasses write this brief paragraph and then raise up. There is an Easter feast to prepare.