At Easter, how can you tell the difference between a male chocolate bunny and a female chocolate bunny?

The male bunnies have hollow heads.

Tony Piantine from Camp Daniel says:

 I had heard a follow up joke to that one…


If the head has already been bitten off a chocolate easter bunny, how can you tell if its male or female?

If its female it is still talking!

After Special Gathering chapel service on Sunday morning , James, whose disability is within the autism spectrum, came up to shake my hand.  Because it was Resurrection Day, we had abandoned our usual worship format.  The chairs were arranged in a circle.  We sang,

Celebrate, Jesus, celebrate.

He is risen. He is risen.

Come on and celebrate

The resurrection of our Lord.

I had shared a devotion retelling the amazing story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Then we dismissed to take part in the pancake breakfast given by the youth department of First United Methodist Church of Melbourne.

It was obvious that James was overwhelmed with emotion this morning.  He grabbed my hand, gently pulled me toward him.  Then in a clumsy, lovely and awkward way, he kissed me on the cheek.  Then he did it again and again and again.  Four times James kissed me.

Unless you know James and unless you are familiar with the symptoms of autism, you cannot understand what a gift and miracle those four kisses are for me and for James. In the ten years, I’ve known him, neither his staff nor I can recall anyone that James has kissed.

The autism spectrum is a wide range of symptoms that span a wide variety of anti-social, personality disorders.  For James as with many people whose disability is within the spectrum, personal contact is extremely difficult.  Yes, they have deep, stirring emotions; but their ability to express those emotions with personal contact can be vastly limited.

When and if they instigate contact with another person, it is fine.  However, they can be repulsed and may even be terrified by contact with someone, if they do not initiate the touch.

After James kissed me, he left to join the other members standing in line for pancakes.  Erik, a good friend of James’ who had been his staff person in the group home where James lives, came up to me.  “What was that all about?” he asked in a protective and concerned tone.

“He kissed me.  Four times, he kissed me on the cheek.”

Immediately, his anxious look turned to a broad smile.  “He did what?”

“He kissed me.  Four times,” I held up four fingers, adding emphasis to my claim.  “He kissed me four times on the cheek.”

Erik grinned and turned to other duties.  “I have my resurrection miracle,” I said as he began to turn away.

Again, Erik’ smile overcame his face, as he turned back to me.  “I’ll say you did.”

I remember the day James reached out and touched my extended finger in a sacred, quick touch.  A miracle of tender care occurred that morning.  Some months later, James came up to me.  He took one finger out of his ear, stopped humming for a split second.  Then he extended his hand to shake mine.  Again, I knew a miracle of love had happened joining James’ heart to mine.

Within the disability Christian community, mighty miracles happen almost every day.  They come in the form of a touch, a handshake.  But the resurrection miracles often become a kiss on the cheek.  Indeed, Jesus has come that we might have life and that life comes in abundant love.

Larry wasn’t at our He Is Alive! Party the Saturday before Resurrection Day.  I wondered because Larry never misses Special Gathering of Vero.  However, our supervisor told me that she had been told that Larry wouldn’t be at the party.  Larry’s mom had been in the hospital for a small speck that had been found on her brain. Yet, I’d been told that things were good and that she left the hospital without surgery.

When I received a voice message yesterday from his mother, Jackie, I was sad because I knew that this wasn’t a good sign.  In honesty, I waited for an hour to respond; because I wanted to prepare myself for what I would hear from her.

Neither of us planned on developing a friendship.  But Saturday after Saturday, Jackie and I exchanged pleasant information about family and Larry and we have become friends.  She appreciates how much Larry loves the Lord because of his faithfulness to Special Gathering.  I love her willingness to bring him each week, on time.  She’s never late to pick him up after the chapel services.  As we have gotten to know each other, a genuine love has developed that goes beyond our mutual relationship with Larry.

In short, in the week between appointments with the local doctor and the Orlando specialist, the tumor’s size has doubled.  They believe that it is cancerous and the growth is alarming.  We talked for a few minutes; and she filled me in with all the details.

Then I asked her about her relationship with the Lord.  I felt that she was a Christian but I wanted to be sure.  “Yes,” she assured me.  “I know the Lord.  He is my Savior.”

For a few minutes, we cried together.  I’m sure that she could not tell that I was crying and I know that I’m supposed to maintain a more ministerial aura.  However, there are some people who worm their way into your heart and eat that veneer with their love.  Jackie is one of those people.  After our conversation, I was thankful that she had called on Resurrection Day because the joy and hope of new life was burning in my spirit.

The assurance of life eternal is the result of Christ’s resurrection.  The Bible tells us in Roman 8:11, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”  No matter what the outcome, Jackie is in the Lord’s hands.

What are some of the good things you have had happen on Resurrection Day?

Each Sunday morning, I rise early.  Almost no one who is mentally challenged drives.  Providing transportation for our members is vital for the success of a special needs ministry.  Therefore, I must pick up people for our chapel programs, check on and verify bus rides. Then I set up the chairs and tables for the chapel worship services.  I leave our house at 7AM.

Because we live two blocks from the ocean, Resurrection morning is a time of great joy for me.  Around 6:30AM, the singing begins because the Christian community gathers at the beachside park near our home, for the Easter sunrise service.  From the stillness of the morning, Christ the Lord is risen today.  Alleluia!  wafts through the atmosphere.  I allow time each Easter to step outside in our garden to hear the music of the saints.

As I leave the house, the music stops and the sermon begins.  Last year, when I passed the park, I saw a man on the second story balcony of the bar that is adjacent to the park.  He was leaning into the sound of the sermon.  From his body’s position, you could tell that he was receiving the good news of the resurrection of Jesus.

My imagination whirled around different scenarios that could be his story.

  • Was he a clean-up person who stopped wiping tables and emptying beer glasses to listen to the music which brought back joyful childhood memories?
  • Was he a widower experiencing his first Easter without his wife, who had annually dragged her husband to a sunrise service?   Now he regretted all the years he fought her and desperately wanted to tell her.
  • Was he remembering his godly parents or a saintly grandfather?
  • Was he a man who never missed church; but he was pulled into the bar to clean the building after college revelers had spent a long night of spring-break partying?

I had no answers to any of these question, of course.  However, what I saw was the wonderful attraction of the good news of the resurrection.  For a few moments, we forget the Easter eggs and the chocolate candy and the new clothes.  

Jesus is risen from the dead.  He has brought to the world new life.  Resurrection life has been birthed into the lives of all who will come and receive God’s priceless gift of love and redemption.

Happy Resurrection Day!