A Life Changing Easter Sunday
Growing up in India as a Catholic I always looked forward to Easter. It came with celebrations, lots of food and drink. The season of Lent lasted forty days before Easter, which meant fasting from food and things we liked most. I was told at Sunday school that I had to give back to Jesus what did he did on the cross for me. The last three days before Easter was the worst: I had to walk around in a procession, carrying a big wooden cross. On Good Friday, we were allowed to eat one meal. On the midnight of Saturday I would go with my family to church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Finally, it was party time.
In 1994 Marina and I moved to North America and most of the tradition followed us. Each year during Lent I reflected on what I could give back to Jesus for what he did for me on the cross. I gave up parties, following the same routine each year. It was difficult, I felt lonely and sad, and I couldn’t wait for Easter Sunday so I could get back with my friends and party.
“There is a lady fallen on the floor in our breakfast room.”
Ash Wednesday of 1998 began with the usual plan: forty days of fasting and abstaining. I was working in a hotel near Toronto Airport as Food and Beverage Manager. One morning during the Lent season something unusual happened at the hotel. One of the waiting staff came running to my office saying, “There is a lady fallen on the floor in our breakfast room.” The hotel industry takes accidents very seriously to avoid lawsuits, so I rushed to the breakfast room where a lady was on the ground and a whole bunch of people circled around her. I swiftly made my way through the crowd to examine the situation, but they were laughing and seemed to enjoy what was happening.
Some days the lobby of the hotel would be full of groups laughing and falling on each other.
I asked what they were up to and to my surprise they said, “We were praying for her." I had never seen this kind of prayer, where a lady was lying on the floor while the rest of them where just laughing and giggling. The group convinced me the lady was fine and so I left, perplexed and puzzled.
Curiosity was building within me, I wanted to know more about this church and what led people to pray in such a manner. I found out that they were attending conferences at a church called Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (now called Catch The Fire Toronto). Some days the lobby of the hotel would be full of groups laughing and falling on each other and at times I wondered if they were drinking at a bar. I told my wife Marina everything that was happening at the hotel but I couldn’t put my mind to rest. We were so curious that eventually we agreed to visit the church.
On Easter Sunday 1998, Marina and I took our two little boys to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. We sat in the back seats and everything we saw was new to us. People dancing and swaying around the room, ladies dancing with flags. I remember saying “this is a party not a church!” and I began to like it. At the end of the meeting John Arnott gave an invitation to come forward to start a relationship with Jesus. Growing up as a Catholic I knew how to pray to Jesus, light candles, pray in front of statues, I always feared God and knew it was a conditional faith. I was never once told that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus. The invitation from John Arnott was so appealing to me that something within me leapt forward. As a family we walked down the aisle to receive Jesus in our hearts.
We were intoxicated with joy and laughter.
John Arnott said “You can never repay Jesus in your lifetime for what he did for us all, but fall in love with him and get to know him.” Marina and I began to be filled with a new drink from the Holy Spirit; we were intoxicated with joy and laughter. I had been in the hotel Industry for 21 years and had some of the best wines and age-old liqueurs in the world but nothing compared to what we were receiving, so we kept coming to church everyday. We came to church every evening, six days a week and on the weekends we would pack up our suitcases to stay at the hotel so we could spend the weekend at the church.
I don’t enjoy alcohol anymore; instead we have been drinking this new wine for the last 14 years, a new wine that fills our family with unspeakable joy. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit, who touched and transformed our family. Now we serve the Lord as Campus Pastors at Catch The Fire Toronto with passion, full of the Holy Spirit, our oldest son serves as a youth leader, our youngest serves in the worship team. He has given us a fresh hunger to fall in love with Jesus more and more.
"Whoever takes a drink of the water that I give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more."
God set me up to work in a hotel industry to taste some of the best wines and liquors in the world and then drew me to his flowing artesian well of life giving water at 272 Attwell Drive, the home of Catch the Fire Toronto, to taste the best wine that Jesus had saved for me. Jesus did his first miracle in me like the wedding at Cana of Galilee. John 2:10-11 so resonates in my spirit:
The Manager said to the Bridegroom “Everyone else serves his best wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then he serves that which is not so good; but you have kept back the good wine until now!
This, the first of His signs (miracles, wonder-works), Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory [by it He displayed His greatness and His power openly], and His disciples believed in Him [adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Him].” (AMP)
Friends, if you have never tasted this good wine and experienced it in your life, I highly recommend you to take the invitation of Jesus in John 4:14:
“But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life.” (AMP)