It seems appropriate, as Easter is upon us, that I add this entry from my grandfather’s WW 2 diaries, written in the jungles of New Guinea during the height of the war. The date was April 9, 1944. There were numerous Protestant chaplains, rabbis and Catholic priests within the religious ranks of the service . My grandfather worked with those assigned to his battalion, which could at times cause some confusion as to who was doing what and when.
April 9, 1944 (From the diaries of Chaplain Marvin E. Maris
Easter: 1. A.M. worship service; 83rd QM at Base A – 40 present. 2. P.M. worship service at 4th Depot Chapel with Chaplain Walters McCracken – attended 30.
The Base chaplain and the Depot chaplains had the Easter services in an awful muddle between them. On instant notice, I was called to take the service with the 83rd Quarter Master and last night, I didn’t know whether the Depot chaplain would be there or not, (I) prepared the whole service only to find him there with one which he had planned. It was embarrassing to him as he had not made it clear to me as to just what I was to do. But he didn’t need to speak of the mix-up in the service and tell all the soldiers about it! The chaplain should have its little secrets when administration is concerned.
My Personal Easter Additions from Illinois: April 4, 2021
Today’s Easter services at Marshall First UMC were definitely nothing like that of Marvin’s 75 years ago, or of last year’s where we had no open worship at all. With our bishop announcing higher numbers accepted in the sanctuary, our Easter saw quite a few in the pews for both services.
We did have a connect with my grandfather who was definitely remembered in today’s services. My mother added an “in memory of/ in honor of” potted lily for her parents, Marvin and Connie, as well as my dad, Bill. Our two were among the other 60 plants, including daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, which added so much to the beauty of the church.
Our Choir Returns
After a full year of no choir, we choir members finally were able to add our voices to the service for both Palm Sunday and today, Easter Sunday. If you are interested in hearing us on Facebook, I add it here. My mom and I are in the front, with me on the right and my mom on the left. If you want to fast-forward to the choir numbers, be looking for four anthems for each.
Before Closing: A bit of Worship Anxiety
I will share that the above Easter live-stream recording had me in a panic due to my cell phone. I have the habit of bringing my phone with me everywhere I go to take pictures and immediately post for my Chinese friends to enjoy. This includes the Luzhou choir members. These entries I place in my WeChat moments. “Moments” are short blogs, which include pictures and short write-ups of what is happening. My Moments are known to get many hits since I have so many Chinese followers.
This morning, I couldn’t help myself but immediately post my church photos and my write-up in between our services. I left my phone tucked under the pulpit, in front of me, and forgot to turn it off for that second service. Since the time difference was 14 hours ahead of Illinois time, I figured no one would be up so late at midnight or 1 a.m. to even bother looking at my Easter news offerings.
As Pastor Bob began his message at 10:45 a.m., my phone continued to buzz over and over and over again as choir members, friends and my students began commenting on what I had posted. It was too conspicuous for me to reach for the phone, two feet away, to turn it off so I had to just pray that it couldn’t be heard over Pastor Bob’s sermon.
How many remarks and comments was I getting? A lot!
When worship finally did end, I was able to check and see that 21 messages (meaning 21 “Zzz!”s) were waiting for me, including a large number from my Chinese choir members who exclaimed, “Christ is Risen!”, “Hallelujah!”, “Happy Easter!” and my all-time favorite, which was: “Hurry home, Sister Connie. We miss you.”
What a lovely feeling, to know even if I’m physically absent, I’m still in everyone’s thoughts. Let’s hope that next year at this time, I’ll be back in China, leading Easter egg hunts and egg coloring sessions with my students, and singing joyfully along with my Chinese church choir.
Hurry home, indeed.
On Easter Sunday, here’s wishing you 平安 (ping an, peace) for your day.