The day began with my alarm going off at 4.30 a.m. stirring me from my sleep. I resisted my usual habit of hitting the snooze button. I didn't want to risk a second snooze this morning--I haven't missed an Easter morning sunrise service for the past ten years.
There's something about this yearly gathering with other believers from all of the churches in town that draws me. I love the opportunity to meet with our friends from other denominations and worship together, declaring, we small crowd, huddled on the hillside, that "Christ is risen!"
Breakfast afterwards is always especially good too, rotating around the churches--old fashioned bacon, sausages, eggs, pancakes and home made preserves.This morning the half moon hung in the gray sky of morning as we left the house, dressed warmly against the frosty cold that nipped at our cheeks.
As we drove along still deserted roads, past silent, sleeping households it felt, as it always does, like we were headed to a secret meeting--reminiscent of the time I stole out of the house as a child, past sleeping parents--on a secret quest for adventure very early one morning.
When we finally get to our eleven o'clock Easter morning church service--we committed die hards--comparisons can be overheard about what time people got up that morning in order to be there--just as I wrote at the start of this story.
Gatherings of Canadians on cold hillsides in early morning in the name of God--these are declarations of faith worthy of note in an increasingly secularized society--but this afternoon I opened an old journal and found a story even more worthy--and today it seems fitting to tell it.
A few years ago, a friend, Sumitra, came from her native India to visit relatives in Toronto. Her mother had come with her, and before they returned home, we managed one visit. We had met years ago through our work, but remained friends after our work paths parted, bound together by our common faith.Sumi's mother was 87 then--a dear, gracious lady, so elegant in her gold jewelry and silk sari. She was so obviously a woman of deep faith in God and I asked her to tell me her story; how had their family come to faith in Christ?
The story begins in what I would estimate was the eighteen eighties--nearly 130 years ago, during the British Raj. Sumi's great grandfather, was known to be an excellent linguist and was engaged as a translator at just twenty years old by the District Collector. One of the tasks he was given was translating the Bible into Tamil. As he translated he became convinced that it was God's Word and gradually came to the realization that he had a decision to make that would cost him everything. He had only one brother and he knew that becoming a Christian meant that he would be disgraced, disowned and disinherited. He finally told his parents, who persuaded him to wait a year and think it through carefully. He did so, but at the end of the year he decided that though it would mean the loss of wealth, position and family, his faith in God meant even more.
Sumi's mother continued the story of her grandfather's decision. The houses in India had verandahs. The young man was told to leave the house and go out onto the verandah. Then they threw out water after him, to wash away "the dirt." Although he did return later to visit his mother, he was never again allowed into the house, but could only come as far as the verandah.
He prospered in spite of starting out with nothing and married one of the seven daughters of another Christian man, having a family of several sons who also became prosperous--one of whom was the father of Sumi's mother.
Today on a day we remember costly grace, I celebrate a man of costly faith.