My dad does get out of the nursing home, on occasion. Once in awhile, my mom takes him out to lunch with friends. He really likes that.
On Sunday, after worship and after dinner, we brought Easter over to my dad. My brother brought him a piece of left-over pie. My mom had been there earlier, recounting the humorous and serious moments of the Easter sermon (at least some parts of the sermon had to do with the words "TA DA!") I brought my red hymnal and sang a verse of "Jesus Christ is Risen today." Then I switched over to "Living for Jesus", which he still knows better (and so does my mom, for that matter.)
There was a big crowd of us for awhile: My mom, my brother, my neice and nephew, and me. We were all talking, telling stories, my dad eating pie. I'm not sure he recognized us all the time. Besides the dementia, he also has macular degeneration, and his glasses went missing some time ago, so we're all kind of fuzzy.
After awhile, it got near to his dinner time, so we wheeled him down to the dining room, and said good-bye.
I didn't like to see the look on his face when we all said good-bye, all at once.
"You're going to have dinner soon. They'll take care of you," we reassured him. I'm not sure it helped.
"Jesus Christ is risen today!" was the song we sang at the beginning of worship on this last Sunday. People we don't see often were there, some visitors, some children and grandchildren. Others, like my dad, were absent. Some have died in the past year. Some live in wheelchairs, or can't remember.
"Jesus Christ is risen today! Alleluia!" But what does it matter? What's it about? Why is this such good news?
I can give you all the stock answers: the defeat of death, the triumph of love, the vindication of Jesus, and his way of living. But today, my answer is this:
Jesus Christ is risen so that all the barriers that keep us separate will come down. Jesus is risen so that someday, we will all be together, we will not have to eat ham in one place while my dad eats his dinner somewhere else. Jesus is risen so that we will not have to say good-bye. Jesus is risen and the kingdom of God will be wheelchair accessible, and poverty and wealth accessible, and color-accessible, even life and death accessible. Jesus is risen, and in the love of God, there will be no more barriers. There will be no "Keep Out" signs, no stairs to climb, no entrance fees that some can't pay.
That's what I think, at least today.
What about you?