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Sunday grace

The gas logs burn in the dark of dawn, and I snuggle under the quilt, sitting in my rocker, sipping hot coffee. It’s spring they say. The cold chills me. And the bird song filters in through the closed window in the morning hours.

Maisie and I walk, me bundled in my corduroy coat and a scarf at my neck. Buds on the forsythias are peeking yellow. I cut some long branches, put them in a vase of water, hoping for spring to bloom in the house.

A redbud tree sustained wind damage a week ago, the multi-part trunk broken and a piece of it lies near the ground. I’ve done nothing with it yet. It makes me sad, this beloved tree I planted to commemorate the first grandchild’s birth almost 22 years ago.

While the geese move in pairs, one female already sits on her nest, like she’s trying to get a jump on the others. Her head is bent low and curled into her body as she tries to stay warm. Her mate swims and eats grass, always near but still living his goose life. She sits faithfully in the waiting.

The moon is full in the night sky. It will wane and wax as the season of Passover approaches. I observe its phases this time of year and remember the familiar story in Exodus.

The Israelite people, in Egyptian bondage, clothed in their slavery, crying out for deliverance, wondering when it would come. In their waiting, God was moving to bring his plan to fruition. A Passover night would symbolize their deliverance and point to their future.

We all wait for something. We do it patiently in hope or we live with frustration and anxiety. It’s my choice.

I wait for spring to fully form. I wait for prayers to be answered. I hope in the waiting, knowing that God is strong and God is good.

I choose to trust that He is moving while I wait.

Sunday grace.

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A Holy weekend

It is the last day of March, time for my March ending post, but the day seems too holy to be casual or frivolous about weather and a slow spring emerging.

Sweet William and I shared a Good Friday service last night with people of our congregation. It was solemn, quiet, thoughtful. We ate the bread and drank the cup, and I left the building with remembrance etched in my mind.

At home as we prepared for bed, I spied the Passover moon out the window, brilliant in a darkening sky. I’ve missed it during the grey days of March, it hiding behind layers of cloud. The moon beckoned me into a season of the holy.

This morning I searched for a hymnal with the song sung a capella at the end of the service. O Sacred Head Now Wounded is mournful, an appropriate ending to last night’s reverent gathering.

Two millennial ago, those who loved Jesus and watched Him die were been grief-striken on the Saturday following. Death in the most cruel and painful form was pressed upon One who’s only crime was doing good on the Sabbath and claiming equality with God.

Did they huddle in homes, no words spoken, for what could be said that would relieve their hearts, broken with the sadness of finality.

We call it Good Friday, not because of any earthly good that transpired but because an eternal good was at work, what would only be apparent in days to come.

There is hope today because of that Good Friday. Death is not the end of life. For those in Christ Jesus, it is only the beginning.

Take time to think of the reality of Jesus death and resurrection. It changed the world. It changed me. It can change you.

If you want to read a post about Good Friday from 2013, you may find it here.

See the source image

 

 

The Friday of Passover week

We call it Good Friday. Two days before Easter Sunday. It seems an odd description for the original day.

Researchers differ about the origin of the term Good Friday. The one that seems most reasonable is that “good” related to “holy.”

It was a Holy Friday.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, would not have thought it a good day as she watched her son suffer an agonizing death, this son proclaimed by an angel to be called the Son of God, an heir to the throne of David.

The disciples would not have called it good since by this time they had scattered like scared rabbits. They were disillusioned, disappointed, fearful, and confused.

How could the people of Jerusalem have thought the events of the day were good? The city was in an uproar. Barabbas, a proclaimed dangerous criminal had been turned loose. Pilate was under pressure from the Jewish leaders and was concerned about his political position.

There was a crucifixion occurring during the week of Passover, the festival of freedom. And the prince of darkness appeared to be on the winning side.

But there was something holy happening.

The plan of redemption was at work on a hill called Calvary.  A perfect spotless Lamb offered Himself as the once-and-for-all sacrifice. The sins of the world were being carried to the cross.

Trespasses were forgiven.  The debt we owed was paid in full. Spiritual dark rulers were disarmed.

Christ on the cross brought great anguish to those who watched Him suffer, knew Him intimately, had learned to loved Him, and hoped He was their Deliverer.

They could not see any good on a Friday when the sun was darkened.

But there was something holy happening that day, something that would change everything.

It was a good Friday for me.

the cross

 

Sunday grace

Entering the sanctuary I see the silvery containers at the front of the church and know they hold bread and juice. It is the day to partake in Holy Communion.

My church background did not provided this sacrament each Sunday as in some denominations. Different churches have different ways. Whatever the tradition, the observance is heavy with meaning. And the remembering.

Do this in remembrance. Remembering. Ann Voskamp calls it re-membering. Living in the chaos of this world sometimes pulls me apart. I feel stretched to the limit. I can get lost and undone.  When I come back to what is important, I am re-membered.

To pause within the fellowship of believers and remember Christ’s death, His sacrifice for my sins, somehow makes the pieces fit together again, let’s my soul catch up with my whirling mind and sets my heart on the path of truth again.

I am not my own. I have been bought with a high price. Through Jesus Christ I am His beloved. I have been chosen and adopted. In God’s sight I am holy and blameless. It is the gift of righteousness by grace. Lavish grace. Undeserved grace. Amazing grace.

We eat the bread, we drink the cup. We taste it and remember the Lord’s death. We remember His life, His resurrection, and His promise of abundant living for us His children.

This is the season to remember.

Sunday grace.passover

Moon signs

I stepped out to the deck, it all sparkles with frost on the railing ledges in the cold pre-dawn. The moon sends light in the clear dark sky.

The moon draws me this time of year. In its waning cycle now, it will take its time toward full round in less than a month. And then it will be Passover.

With fascination and memory, I watch the progress of the moon this time of year as it grows small, disappears and then starts to grow large again. Science books would explain its rotation and the shadows that block my view, but let me simply enjoy the beauty and mystery of it.

I watch the night sky with anticipation, the moon cycle signaling the Passover season which falls close to the holiday of Easter.

The first day of Passover is always a full moon. And my mind wanders back thousands of years to the first Passover when the Israelites prepared lambs for supper and brushed blood on their doorposts, following instructions they didn’t fully understand yet.

A scene from the classic movie, The Ten Commandments staring Charlton Heston as Moses, comes to mind. It is the night of Passover and the moon glows full and bright. What appears to be the shadow of death begins to move slowly toward Egypt. In this particular scene, the shadow blocks the moon for a few seconds as it pushes forward.

passover moon

 

I wonder what it was like that fateful night, the people of God shut in their humble slave dwellings, covered by the blood, eating lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread while they waited for something. Did they know this was the night of their deliverance?

Passover was God’s object lesson of what was coming. It was the shadow of the real and tangible Savior of the world, Jesus. The people would wait long for the promised Messiah, and He would come.

The anticipation of Passover carries me toward the season of remembrance.  Remembering the promise of a Lamb that God alone would provide for the redemption of the world.

This perfect Lamb would provide our freedom. Do we know this? Do we recognize it? Do we remember it? Have we accepted Him as our own Deliverer?

“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”

                — 1 Corinthians 5:7

Observe the moon set in its orbit by our creator God. He is the One who promises, and He is faithful to do what He says.

 

Full moon rising

Tomorrow is the full moon.  It reminds me that the celebration of Passover is a month away.

Passover blood on the door

I know.  It’s confusing.  Why is Easter this next Sunday and Passover is four weeks later?

For some reason I have not been able to wrap my mind around the holiday of Easter this year.  Perhaps it is because the Passover Feast has become such an integral part of my celebration of Jesus death, burial and resurrection.  And to find out that they are so far apart this year has left me a little unsettled.

The two cannot be separated no matter who decides what to put on the calendar.

Passover was instituted by God as He drew a picture of the coming promise.  Abraham prophesied that God would provide for Himself a lamb.  And it was through the yearly celebration of the Passover that Jewish families remembered how God delivered them from slavery through the blood of a lamb.

Clearly God was trying to show them something, something to come, Someone to come.

The world plans for Easter with bunnies and colored eggs and spring fashions.  Candy selections catch the eye at the grocery stores, reminding us to fill those baskets.  I have nothing against rabbits or eggs, and I sure do like candy.

But please, let us remember what really happened and the reason for our celebration.

The last supper Jesus ate with His disciples was the Passover meal.  It was there He instituted what we call the Lord’s Supper where we commemorate His body and His blood.

He told us to remember.

The day called Easter and the Feast of Passover go together.  One comes before the other.  One tells the story.  One fulfills the promise.

Let’s remember what it is about.

Last Supper

 

 

 

Holy week

The Christian community calls it Holy Week, the days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.  

The days ahead will be holy because they have been consecrated by God for His eternal purpose.  The purpose is redemption.

poured-out

The final days before Jesus’ death were eventful, and the gospel writers pay careful attention to the details.

As I read the chapters marking this time, I see a sequence of events occurring one after the other, events that are bringing us to the climax of the story.

  • Passover draws near and the city of Jerusalem fills with people.
  • Jesus tells His disciples plainly that He is about to be killed.
  • He is anointed with precious ointment and acknowledges it is for His burial.
  • The Pharisees plot Jesus’ arrest.
  • Judas falls right into their hands and suggests he can help, for a price.
  • Jesus says He will be lifted up, and he clearly means he will be crucified.

The stage is set.  The will of the Lord is written in heavenly stone and it will come to pass.

Yet some still do not believe.

Matthew and Mark give us a peek into the private conversations of the Pharisees and elders who want Jesus dead.  “But not during the feast [Passover] or the people might riot,” they say to one another.

The reason is because Jerusalem will be teeming with those coming for Passover.  By this time, Jesus had a following, those who had seen or heard of the miracles and  believed He was the promised Messiah.  The crowds had just hailed Him as the One who would come and deliver them.

This was not the right time for an uprising, not the time to confront and arrest and crucify.

But it was the time, the fullness of time.  It was God’s time.

 All things pointed to Jesus’ death.  And it would come to pass.  Jesus was appointed as the Passover sacrifice.

Just like the ointment poured on His feet, He would be poured out for the sins of the world, the precious blood of a Lamb without blemish.  It would be a fountain flowing to cleanse from the dreadful stain of sin. And nothing was going to stop the promise of God from being fulfilled.

For Jesus it would be a week of activity, of final words, of sharing a meal and showing the depth of His love.  For His followers it would be confusing, disappointing, heartbreaking, and yet revolutionary. 

It was a Holy week.

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Revised and reposted from March 2015