I remember it like yesterday. 5 years old, walking into the old stone chapel, staring at the stained glass windows, in awe. There was something about the man in all those pictures, something about him captivated my 5-year old heart. It was an Episcopal school and I was just starting kindergarten. I had never been to church before so this was all new to me - this Jesus loves the little children stuff. Whoever he was, I liked him. Fast forward a few years. I transferred to a Catholic school for fourth grade. I was given a bible - my first one - and a rosary. I learned new songs, new prayers, and new stories. It all intrigued me. I told my mom I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: a nun. Yup, the fascination lasted several years. I mean, how cool are they. They got to wear cute little outfits, sing, pray, help people, oh, and they didn't have to ever get married. I thought it was a great gig. It wasn't until about 5 years later, as a freshman in high school, that I really heard the gospel for the first time. When the speaker asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus into their heart I was a little confused. I sort of thought he was in my heart since I first saw him on that stained glass window back in kindergarten. But whatever, I raised my hand and made it "official".
It has been 20 years. Twenty years of walking beside Him, trusting Him, believing Him, questioning Him, crying out to Him, thanking Him. There were seasons of plenty, of rejoicing and of hope. But there have also been seasons of pain, heartache and doubt. Whatever the season, He has remained faithful and has proven over and over again that His love conquers all things.
Even as a Christian, I have often wrestled and found myself at odds with religion and the church. We get caught up in red and blue states, right or left, conservative or liberal, and forget to love our neighbor like ourselves. I once heard a very well-respected kahu (pastor) say that he often felt like he was "too much of an activist for the Christians, and too much of a Christian for the activists." If you ask me, Jesus was pretty radical. He healed the sick, fed the hungry and loved the unlovable. What an incredible example.
My 3 year old is not quite ready for the story 0f Jesus' death, let alone resurrection, so when talking to her about Easter I simply explained that Easter is about Jesus loving us. It's as simple as that. And what does He ask of us? Just that we love Him back and love others as much as we love ourselves.
This Easter, I am thankful. Thankful that I have been loved and can love in return. Thankful for childlike faith and stained glass windows.