This weekend marked Chris and I’s first Easter as a married couple.
Wednesday night we were with the Awana Cubbies (preschoolers) as usual. Our lesson was on the resurrection, and their memory verse was 1 Corinthians 15:4: “…and that he rose again, the third day, according to the Scriptures.” I told the kids that the lesson and verse were the most important lesson and verse of the entire year.
On Friday, Chris and I attended a Good Friday service at church. It turned out to be mostly a time of worship, and as such there was no childcare for the littler kids. Instead, they were in service with their parents. One of the Cubbies was sitting with his parents in the same pew as Chris and I. When a speaker giving a short message read the first part of 1 Corinthians 15, including verse 4, I leaned over to him and whispered “That was our verse from this week! I told you it was important!” After service, I saw a few other Cubbies and reinforced the importance of that week’s memory verse with them as well.
Saturday morning Chris and I got to help run a booth passing out gospel tracts at a city Easter Egg Hunt. Once that event finished, we headed over to my parents’ house. There we met with my sister and her husband, along with her husband’s parents and brother. Everybody brought snacks to share, and we watched the Peanuts movie. None of us had gotten to see it yet, and I thought it was really cute.
Sunday Chris and I were at church on Sunday morning. Then we headed over to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for Easter dinner. Pretty much all of my family on my Dad’s side was there, except for my brother who opted to stay on campus this weekend and do homework, and a cousin who has moved out of state. It was fun to get to spend time with family, especially extended family who I hadn’t gotten to see in a while.
Overall, it was a good week and I look forward to many Easter weeks to come for Chris and I.
Toward the end of last week, I was talking with a coworker about my plans for the weekend. My plans included helping paint the high school room at church. My coworker’s response was something about how he used to enjoy doing community service. It caught me off guard. Over my life, I have spent many hours of time doing what many people would consider “community service”. Yet somehow, I have never thought of it that way. As a believer, I think that what I do is so much more than community service.
Webster’s dictionary defines community service as “work that is done without pay to help people in a community.” For most people, their goal in “community service” is to serve the community by making it better.
For me as a Christian, though, there is a further goal. I want people to come to know, love, and serve my Lord. The service that I do is done to further that goal. If I am scorekeeping at an Awana event (as I will be doing this weekend), it is because I know that there will be a gospel presentation. I also know that there are parents and grandparents of the kids who are competing who might not ever set foot in a church, but who will come see their family member play games in a high school gym. Those people will hear a gospel presentation, and I get to be part of that.
This is not to say that Christians can not or should not do community service. However, for the Christian, the motivation still comes from Scripture and what Christ has done for us. Matthew 25: 37-40 says “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’”
Still, when a Christian does (or at least when I do) things that the world sees as “community service,” there is so more more to it. It is not just “community service.”
A week ago, Chris and I got to visit Washington D.C.!
Washington D.C. had been the top of my places-I-want-to-go-but-have-never-been list for something like 15 years. Chris’ brother Steven and his wife Bel live a short ways out of D.C., and they kindly let us stay with them for the week, and provided us with food and transportation back and forth everywhere. Staying with family also allowed Chris and I to meet our 3-1/2 month old niece for the first time. However, I think I need to work at this whole “aunt” thing, as I arrived home and realized that I did not take a single picture of her all week!
After an overnight flight, we arrived into the Baltimore at something like 6 am. Leaving from the airport, we went to breakfast and then straight to Arlington National Cemetery. Our visit there included getting to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was pretty cool to see. It was also very cold – the high on Sunday was something like 18 F. After that, we went back to Steven and Bel’s house and pretty much crashed for the rest of the day. Our day ended with a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner cooked by the guys for the gals.
We woke up Monday morning to find a coating of SNOW on the ground, and it continued to snow all day. We didn’t let that stop us. Steven joined us as we rode the Big Bus around town and were able to see several things, including the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. The Lincoln Memorial was really neat to get to see. There were a lot of memorial wreaths in front of it, which may or may not have had something to do with our visit occurring on President’s Day. Our day ended a little early, as we were concerned that the snow would keep us from being able to get back to the house.
On Tuesday we had a second day of use out of our Big Bus tour. We used it to get us to a wax museum (which we got for free with our Big Bus tickets). It wasn’t something I would pay to go see again, but for free it was a fun thing to see while we were waiting for our timed entry into the Ford Theater. Standing in that theater, just feet from where President Lincoln was shot, was surreal. I felt that way about several things over the week. History really seemed to come alive. Across the street we saw the Peterson House (where Lincoln was taken after he was shot). After that we went to the Holocaust museum. Then, Steven picked us up and drove us by the Iwa Jima memorial on the way back to the house.
On Wednesday morning we got to tour the east wing of the White House! It was really pretty. After that, we went to a museum called the Newseum. It had come highly recommended, but we didn’t fully know what to expect. It turned out to be a museum about American history, the news/media, and how they interact. For example, they had an exhibit on the Vietnam War, complete with artifacts and new articles, and explained the impact of the media on American perception of the war and ultimately the war itself. The most emotional part of the Newseum for me their exhibit on 9/11, which included a piece of the antenna which had been on the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Thursday was by far our longest day. We started with a little bit more time to finish up at the Newseum (our tickets allowed a second day of entry). Then we went to the National Gallery of Art. I wrote a paper about “A Little Girl in a Blue Armchair” by Mary Cassatt as a junior in high school, and a pre-trip internet search had revealed that the original was on display in Washington D.C. The docent at the desk when we walked in was very helpful, looking up and telling us which gallery in the museum we wanted to go to, and then providing a map to show how to get there. Then we went to the Air and Space Museum for the rest of the morning/afternoon.
In the evening, a friend of Steven’s had been able to get us in to tour the West Wing of the White House. For the most part, pictures were not allowed, but I can say that it is really pretty. Our tour included getting to see the Oval Office.
Friday had a simplest agenda of the week. We drove out to the Udvar Hazy Center, which is basically everything that the Air and Space Center has, that doesn’t fit in the Air and Space Museum. I think I would have enjoyed it more if we had not done it on back-to-back days with the Air and Space museum, but it was still interesting.
On Saturday the name of the game was catch-up. Go see the things we weren’t able to see earlier in the week for one reason or another. We started at the National Archives, where we got to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. From there we went to the Capitol building, where the tour we had scheduled for Monday had gotten cancelled due to the snow. Even without reservations, we were able to get in to a tour starting just a few minutes after our arrival. A tunnel allowed us to move directly to the Library of Congress even allowing us to bypass the security line (a small plus after walking through metal detectors to walk into nearly every building all week). However, the Library prooved to be somewhat underwhelming, as the set-up didn’t allow us to see much. After that, our attention turned to the get-there-if-we-can list, starting with the Natural History museum. We ended up finishing there quicker than expected, and with our last hour and a half before the Smithsonian museums closed for the day, we went to the American History museum. The highlight for me there was getting to see the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the Star Spangled Banner.
Overall, we had a fun week. There were things that we would have liked to have seen but weren’t able to. I guess those things will have to wait for another trip.