In our garage sits a new occupant, temporarily there; another project awaiting good intentions and a bit of loving care. Given to us by my daddy a year and a half ago, all we had to do was drive down, load it up and haul it home. It’s an old bench, a pew from the church of daddy’s youth, one left after the building was gone, the members too few. Would we like to have it, was his question one day, and we figured, sure, we could use it somewhere, some way. Going to get the pew was a thought from time to time but it wasn’t something we’d put to plan and so it slipped my mind. This morning was a rare time with us both available and so, when the thought of that pew on our porch popped to mind, I said “Lets just go”. Now Dad had warned us that we’d be needing help, but of strong body and stubborn mind, we headed off to do it ourselves.
We all know that in the days of little convenience and less demand, things were made stronger, heavier, investing more time, and often by hand. Did I mention HEAVIER? as in solid wood; 12 feet long, 2 feet wide, and waist-high the old girl stood. Partly dragging and partly lifting, taking two steps and then a stop, we maneuvered her onto the trailer, eased her down on her back, and strapped across the top. My mind filled with questions I’d like to ask that pew, and my husband even expressed that he had a question or two. Did I ever sit on that very same seat, visiting with Aunt Kathryne which was always a treat. Did my grandmother sit there, or my cousin Jan with her friends; how many times did she hear an ‘amen’. How many sweethearts’ vows were heard, and who came to obedience from that very seat at hearing the Word? How many burdens were dropped right there as heavy hearts listened to a righteous man’s prayer? The weight of the pew itself lent to me, the thought that burdens are expected, when gifts are free. We are told we must each bear our own cross, as the Savior did first, and paid a great cost for the gift He gave of eternal life, passing to each of us the will to live and love with true sacrifice.
“And he bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha; where they crucified Him, …” (John 19:17-18)
And so, after a thought-filled ride back home, we unloaded the heavy burden, set her upright with a groan; there I saw four little reminders of the lives she had seen – objects fallen from the songbook racks on the back of the seat. Two small soft white ponytail bands, a penny and a red pencil trimmed down to two inches I held in my hand. How fitting I thought, that for all that time, the pew had held tokens of childhood like a sign. As the Christ had spoken centuries ago “Allow the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) The penny as well, so fitting, because religion is not about how much we have, but how much we are giving. That little red pencil was still sharp, but the eraser had hardened over time, and spoke to me of talents and then age came to mind. Although time does take its toll, there are many talents yet to use, love to give, miles to go. Unable to erase, if you’ll pardon the pun, the marks of time and the deeds that were done, that pencil stayed sharp,ready for command, to do whatever directed by some master’s hand.
And at the end of the day, it came to me how neat that we’d thought about going to get that church pew a few days before Easter. At a time when much of the world will be focused on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the gift of eternal life He gave us, we brought home another free gift. I’ve heard it said that with freedom comes responsibility. Likewise, with freedom from the burden of carrying our own sins, comes the responsibility of obedience to the One who made it so. These words of Christ after the resurrection are recorded in Matthew: “Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28: 19-20) The pew from my dad carried with it the burden of moving it, and later that of cleaning and painting perhaps, but also was a gift of love, memories, and a great place to sit and ponder all the treasures from our heavenly Father. So, heavy is subject to interpretation it seems, as it is all relative; some burdens we bear for the joys that they bring.
“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” Luke 24:26 “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:5-6
In my faith, we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ every first day of the week. I enjoy however, seeing so much more of the world taking time this week to remember the burden He bore for us, and acknowledging His great love. Happy Easter. Hey, do they make coffee flavored easter eggs? Yum.