Mrs. Astors Plush Horse

Easter Sunday I dressed up fancy-like. I felt like Mrs. Astor’s plush horse.

Who on earth is Mrs. Astor, and what is a plush horse? I can recall my mom verbalizing this idiom. Seeking to find the history behind it, I learned Mrs. Astor was a New York socialite. A monied one; her husband, William Backhouse Jr was a successful horse breeder.

The Mrs. was known for her extravagant dinner parties; formal dress always a prerequisite. From there, the story gets a little wild. Rumor has it that she put on a dinner party for animals and they all came adorned in the fancy dress of the day. Needless to say, she looked like a fool.

Since COVID has entered our lives, I have been living on the casual side. On Sunday I felt overdressed. Upon entering the church, I encounter a friend, “Oh my goodness, you have knees!”

I felt like a fool.

But why? I know folks who think church-going is unnecessary. Foolish even, given the whole joint is full of imperfect people. Why not look the part? Put on some fancy clothes so others will think we have life all figured out.

That is where my story takes on a wild side. Imperfection is the very reason church-goers go. We know we don’t have life figured out, but we also know who does. Jesus doesn’t care what clothes we wear; he cares about where our heart is.

Back up.

Maybe he does somewhat care about our wardrobe; knowing some attire draws unsavory people to our circle. Unlike Mrs. Astors dinner parties, there is no mandatory attire in church attendance. Jesus prefers those who don’t put themselves on display. From what I have read in the Good Book, he is especially drawn to  those who don’t have high self-esteem.

One of Jesus’ specialties is transforming a nobody into a person of influence. Nothing can impact others like witnessing a changed life. Better yet, is experiencing a changed life. Rarely do I take sermon notes, but this one hit me between the eyes. The pastor shared, “Sometimes the best way to believe the impossible is to experience the impossible.”

Hmmm, there is food for thought. Easter commemorates the impossible that happened. At the ripe old age of thirty-three, Jesus died for something he had no part of. By the reports I’ve read in the Good Book, he arrived on earth in a supernatural way. He was God’s son, but referred himself as the Son of Man; he chose to be identified as both. Perfect, but human.

There is an oxymoron for you. Not everyone buys into the ‘God is love’ story; a  choice only you can make. Regardless of your stance, Jesus did the impossible and rose from the dead. A change of heart can give you the same experience, rising to a new eternal life. If a perfect living sounds good to you, it’s a heart turned to Jesus that is a prerequisite.

It’s a come as you are party, but I recommend adding a seatbelt to your wardrobe. The places God takes you will be an adventure!

An Easter to Remember

20200411_190602                                                                                           © jb katke 

Considering we are still in lockdown because of the coronavirus, this year will be remembered.

We fondly look back at previous years, when new clothes were purchased to wear to church. Eggs were hardboiled and ready to dye. Festive baskets came out filled with chocolate and marshmallow bunnies. Some families hid the eggs for children to hunt down.

But this year? Our new outfit consists of a face mask. Churches are closed but providing services online for us to watch at home. No doubt many things will be traced back to ‘the year of the lockdown.’

I’m certain too, that in nine months or so we will witness another baby boom. The country will be ready for new life.

Spring time reeks new life. Our lawns come back from dormancy, the flower bulbs start to make their presence known. Gardeners are poring over their seed catalog, designing their new flower beds. After a long cold winter, the greenery of new life is always a welcome sight.

I heard a speaker recently. While gardening was not the subject matter but an analogy was used of a simple seed. We walked through the growth of a seed. When put in the ground, providing the seed has been properly nourished, will grow. But looks radically different. The seed breaks and dies in order to be transformed into a new and different life.

The message was timely. At Easter thoughts turn to Jesus. His life of helping and encouraging others is spoken of with admiration. We hear about a solid week of false accusations, imprisonment, mockery, an unjust court trial, and beating. All leading to his brutal death on a cross.

I’ve heard this story on many Easters. What I find astounding is he intentionally left heaven to make certain these events would take place. Why?

Because he also knew what would happen afterward.  Jesus didn’t stay on the cross. He didn’t even stay in his tomb. His earthly body was broken and dead. But he rose again to a new life.

He wants us to have that same opportunity.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by belieiving in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point his finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted…                     John 3:16 The Message

Jesus returned to heaven to be at his dads’ side. Because of him you and I have the same opportunity. If we consider Jesus our friend,  we try to follow his direction on how to live. After he left, Jesus even sent a helper for mankind to make it easier for us.

In your remembering today, I hope you remember Jesus and what he did with us in mind.

That gives us reason to celebrate wherever we are, even in this pandemic crisis. Will this be the year your life is transformed to a new and better life?

Happy Resurrection day!