It had been a rough year. My parents were separating after 25+ years of marriage and I was surprised at how much that affected me. I was an adult who lived hours away from home for years by that point, but the fact still left a dull ache in my heart. With my parents, it wasn’t that they fell out of love. It was more like their love hurt too much to stay together. Their marriage union had stopped being a healthy place for either one of them.
Maybe that’s partly why I was excited for the Resurrection Sunday service. Even when life is hard and you’re dealing with a bunch of crap, it feels good to have something to celebrate. The church of my youth was holding its worship service in the high school auditorium. I looked forward to the praise and worship but also the opportunity to reconnect with friends I hadn’t seen in a while.
As we got out of our car, I noticed an old black truck turn into the parking lot. For the first time in my life, my dad showed up for church.
Mom and I both realized it was a last-ditch effort to win her back. He’d been trying different things off an on for a few months. Now he’d gone and done the ultimate, broken down the walls he’d erected to avoid religion in order to show her how lost he’d be without her.
He went inside with us and I sat between them. Right before the service started, a family friend came in and slid into a seat in front of us. She was not a regular church attendee either. Her jaw dropped when she turned around and saw my dad. Nothing much is secret in a small town. Through tears - of what - joy, confusion, sorrow - I sang the praise and worship songs.
My dad stayed the whole service. You know how we’re always taught that we shouldn’t listen to a sermon hoping the person next to us was internalizing the lessons? I didn’t do so hot in this area that day. Ever since I could remember, I’d prayed that my dad would be sitting right where he was. Next to me in church on a Sunday. I wanted it to mean everything to him because it meant everything to me.
I don’t know if it did. After the service, he made a beeline for the door, lit up a cigarette and drove away. He never darkened a church door on a Sunday morning again.
But I have my Easter miracle. Every time I gather with the body of believers to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, I remember my daddy attending a worship service with me. I look around the room and note my brothers and sisters who have non-church-going family with them that day. I pray for an Easter miracle in their life too.
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ makes miracles like this possible. It’s what makes Resurrection Sunday my favorite holiday of the whole year. What a reason to celebrate!