Reflections on Easter Weekend

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Two weekends before Easter, I stood with 500 others at a funeral for my friend’s husband. The death had been sudden. Totally unexpected. We gathered to mourn with his widow, children, and grandchildren, while celebrating his life and his Lord. So many lives had been touched during the last third of his life he had lived following Jesus.

The weekend before Easter, my family celebrated together at the marriage of my niece and her groom. Love beamed from the couple, surrounded by their friends and family with much good food, laughter, dancing, and reminiscing. The joy of that day will long be in our memories.

Sadness. Grief. Tears. Laughter. Celebration. Hope for the future. I was exhausted from this range of emotions as Holy Week began. Slowly I began to see how Easter had been mirrored in these recent events, helping to prepare my heart to worship.

Our church offered a new service to observe Good Friday this year. Songs and scripture focused on Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, followed by an opportunity to take communion, creating a meaningful, but sober, time of personal reflection.

Easter Sunday we sang loudly with a crowd of other believers of our resurrected Christ, many bursting into spontaneous applause for God as His plan of salvation, His plan to defeat death and provide life eternal were praised in the lyrics. Such love! Such grace! Such joy! Someday our Groom will return for His Bride, the Church, and that celebration will be beyond our imagination.

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Forgive?

I see the world through Christian glasses.

Part of what that means to me, after several years of sifting the rules and traditions learned in childhood through what I read and learn from the Gospel, is that evil exists. So why does it still surprise me when evil makes a stunningly ugly appearance?

I believe that a Good and Holy God allows us to choose to follow Him or to follow our own inclinations, and provides a Savior and Comforter to make the choice to follow Him possible.  That He allows those who choose evil, to do evil.  But He never condones evil.

I believe Christians are to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, but that seeking justice is also part of God’s plan.  We can seek justice in seeing that those who choose to do evil receive just punishment.  But we are to leave vengeance to Him.

I don’t often think about a need to forgive outside of those who hurt me personally.  The snub, the insult, the untruth told.  Those are hard enough for me to forgive, even though I know it benefits my own emotional health more than the person I forgive.

So when senseless evil strikes and limbs and life are lost, my prayers go out for the injured and those who love them. And I am thankful I do not need to forgive the people behind the evil act that cost my eight year old son his life,  my grown son his leg, or any of the other stories of trauma and loss that are now associated with the Boston marathon. I can rant and rave about the evil choices all over our country, our world, that bring darkness, despair, and fear.  And I can hate those who choose to do evil…

Except for these crazy Christian glasses that focus on the One I follow. The One who teaches us to forgive our enemies.  To lay down hate and leave the vengeance to God.

I believe we all have a choice.  And the path that follows Jesus is not an easy one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope Springs

The yard is more mud than snow, though some stubborn piles of white have not completely disappeared.  The daffodils that budded hopefully before the last snowstorm finally burst into full bloom today.  And despite predictions of yet another snowfall in the next few days, it is beginning to look like our hope in Spring was not misplaced.  Today is Good Friday.

And hope is an important part of this Holy Week.

On Palm Sunday, our pastor reminded us of misplaced hope as a crowd cheered the Jesus they hoped would release them from Roman rule.  Quickly turning against Him when they saw He was not the kind of King to fulfill that hope.  Missing that He was to bring more Hope than they had ever imagined.

The disciples missed it, too.  While He had much to teach them as they shared their last meal together, they were distracted by their own hopes of being great in His Kingdom.

Good Friday is the day of the rejected King.  And when He cried “It is finished” after long hours of agony, it seemed all hope had died with Him.  Those few who had not rejected Him fearfully went into hiding.

All eyes on self, they missed that this was a moment of unimaginable hope.  All their sins had been forgiven, their relationship with God repaired and restored through a perfect sacrifice.  They would suffer fear and hopelessness for two more days before knowing this True Hope.

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!  Those words have been part of many powerful sermons, and rightly so, because True Hope was revealed in the resurrected Christ.  Beyond our wildest hopes, He covered our sins with one righteous sacrifice and conquered death so that nothing can separate us from our God and King again.  No wonder the disciples were overwhelmed with the Good News of Easter Sunday.  Their lives were never the same.

I know these things. BUT.  I still struggle like the crowd with letting Jesus be King of my little life instead of ME.  I struggle like the disciples with eyes on self when I need to focus on my Hope.  I hide in fear though the One with power over sin and death has called me His Own.

I have needed to hear again the message of Hope this Holy Week.

And oh, King Jesus, may my life never be the same.