Nancy and I were honored to share Easter worship service with Judson. It was a special Sunday morning, because it was Judson’s first Easter.
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Two months old, Judson was a living reminder of new life and new energies. I spent much of the service smiling and watching and smiling and watching. But not every moment was a scene from a Hallmark movie.
Judson became a little restless, although I don’t recall a single tear or moment of distress. What I do remember with great emotion are the moments he became weary of his surroundings and began to doze off. Something peaceful settled on me as I watched this little one fade into slumber.
But it took a while for sleep to come. Even though a nap was what he needed, Judson fought it off as long as he could. His mother’s gentle rocking, the pacifier, and the touch of his blanket were worthy foes to his wakefulness. He was a gallant little soldier, yet sleep won out.
Judson’s efforts remind me of our own. Coming out of the difficulties and meaning of a Friday when our Savior is torn from us and the mourning of Saturday when our world is upside down, Sunday morning finds us reunited and hopeful and resolute to live life anew. Then, when things seem to be going well, God calls a timeout and places a needed rest — a Sabbath — in our way. And we fight it. We push it away despite its call to calmness and restoration. After all, this new life has lots of nooks and crannies to explore. How can we afford to lean back into His arms and rest?
How can we not?
The next time you are weary, leave it to God. Close your eyes and let Him take control. Your life will only be better. After all, it’s Sunday morning.
Death is a natural consequence of life We all have been touched by the loss of someone close to us. The initial shock of that loss begins at the moment the last breath was taken — a shock that can last for days, months, and even years. And then there are those milestone moments when, at a given day or time, we realize that we are facing those markers alone — without our loved one. After the crucifixion and death of Jesus on Friday, his family, friends, and followers awoke to a Saturday they weren’t prepared for. In this Saturday mourning, they found themselves with questions, wanting to believe in resurrection but faced with the harsh reality of a silent grave.
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This was a Saturday and a day of Sabbath for Christ’s followers that brought no rest. It was a day of doubts and fears. And, oh, such incredible sadness.
But Saturday mourning brought something else. A stirring experienced by even the strongest believers that plans should be made and new courses charted. The bits of uncertainty begin to clump together and the inner voices began to assert, “It’s all up to me. I am in control. Take charge and put aside all else.”
Yet, the message of Jesus’ life is one that says, “I am enough . . . Leave your burdens to me.” In the dark recesses of Saturday mourning, our earthly clinging causes us to desperately claw at what’s around us, demanding to understand, demanding to make things right, and sincerely pleading for all the broken pieces to be put back together again. And a stubborn determination to do it all ourselves.
Saturday mourning is a necessary part of the walk through the valley of death. For when we finally throw ourselves, exhausted, on the bed of our human frailty, we begin to see the outlines of sunrise on a new horizon. And in the waning moments of Saturday mourning, we begin to hear God’s voice, “It’s all up to me. I am in control. I am in charge and you need nothing else.”
Never in the history of the world have so many people called out to God as they do today. The problem is that they do it, in the language of my faith heritage, “in vain.” Our Creator is called on to damn things on one end of the spectrum and to observe the cuteness of puppies on the other. But today is a day that is fitting to tweet and to post OMG! It’s Good Friday!
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This is the day that the universe slows down as it remembers a day of prayer, betrayal, trial, injustice, torture, anguish, prayer, death, and loss. Today is the day that angels hold their breath and theologians shove their hands in their cloaks to cross their fingers. Today is the day we wait to see if the foundations of Heaven will be shaken. Oh, my God! It’s Good Friday!
This Friday is the heart-stopping crest of the roller coaster of Holy Week. Today is that moment the Ferris Wheel chair shudders and swings limply in the wind . . . and you can hear the clear groan of steel under stress. This Friday is the day that hearts hurt so much that we call out for relief. Oh, my God! It’s Good Friday!
This day is bearable now, after centuries of history, because we know of the days to follow. We know the mourning of Saturday and the morning of Sunday. For many, this day is a holiday with weight placed other places . . . with projects to do and people to see. For others, it’s only another day. And for those who see no difference, we pray. Oh, my God! It’s Good Friday!
We have a Savior. He is Christ, the Lord. Whether you carry His story with you or continue to look for the Answer, I hope just for a moment, you’ll pause and say, “Oh, my God! It’s Good Friday!”
Rarely a day goes by that I don’t find myself in a conversation with someone who has no idea of what I’m talking about. It’s all about context, you see. OK. Sometimes it’s about my inability to communicate clearly. But most of the time it’s about context. Our phases of life just don’t match up.
It’s disheartening sometimes to mention a song, or a movie, or a book — or a President! — and have the other person look back at you with a puzzled expression. I sometimes inwardly groan as I anticipate how hard it will be to bring this person to my level of experience.
But then I think “I don’t have to.” Each of these good folks have their own phases of life to look forward to. Looking back at mine is not something they need to invest in. And, to a large extent, it’s really not something I need to invest in.
We all have a chance to live our phases. We can only imagine what those times will bring.
A brand new year!
It is always my hope that I will do better in a new year. Better diet, more exercise, less sin, more friends, and a lot more family.
Yet, I never seem to get there.
Pounds cling to my body, chances to stretch and to strengthen are too often left by the wayside, I do what I want — even when I don’t really want it, I sit alone and I think about me too much.
I’m excited about a brand new year. Despite my failings to improve in my 60+ years, I still have hope. In fact, in many ways I have done better year after year at many of these resolutions. It’s just that I have had such a long way to travel — and the path stretches out in front of me for quite a ways.
As I age, I’m becoming more and more aware of the danger of emphasizing SELF-improvement over a joyous, focused effort to walk closely with God.
Better times are often less a product of what we avoid and more the result of what we actively pursue.
That’s where we should be headed this year. No doubt, we may veer from that course from time to time. But with eyes trained on Him, we can’t help but do better.
Happy New Year!