Every Sunday, I sit and worship and wait patiently to hear these words “May the peace of the Lord be always with you!”
I know these words by heart and I can say them to myself at any time. But, I like hearing them repeated in the glorious and peaceful Cathedral sanctuary. I am focused, obsessed and desiring to obtain that peace from God.
This is my favorite season of worship as I relive the long, torturous, and dusty road to Calvary. A horrific journey for Jesus who wishes to grant us grace and peace. A journey that is both tragic and triumphant.
This Lenten season I am writing for myself. I am writing for anyone who cares to read. I am writing for God. I am writing.
I know this sounds like a really sketchy concept for my Easter Sunday blog. But stick with me for a minute.
This is the ultimate bad day turns out great day in history. If we are to believe that Jesus really did rise from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion, then it is absolutely life changing. This is not fiction, it’s not a fable, it’s not just a great story. In fact, if you believe, then you can never go back to normal.
With Jesus – normal is not an option.
If you believe, then you have to believe without reservation or restrictions. It’s time to redirect your course. You can’t just fit Jesus into your life when convenient. Jesus IS your life now. You are a changed person.
Your life may have been lemons before you found Jesus but once you let him into your heart…it’s time to make lemonade. This story, this life of Christ is too big for one day. It’s for all eternity.
Are you all in?
What is your favorite Bible verse? It is always interesting to hear the choices people make. In reality, this is not a test. No one fails. There is no wrong answer – only good ones.
I love so many but one pulls at my heart every time. It means something to me…something that confirms that the grace of God flows freely to the righteous and those that may be deemed unworthy. It flows to sinners.
In Jesus final hours on this earth and as He nears death on the cross, he has two criminals to each side of Him enduring the same fate in death. These two criminals are just like us. They are unworthy, lowly, and reeking of sin. Even in His final moments, Jesus is partnered with two very unlovable sinners.
One criminal choose this time to berate and deny Jesus. He mocks Him even as he is dying.
The other criminal does something astonishing. He believes. I don’t know the depth of his sins but in this one incredible moment of faith, he turns to Jesus and says “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42
Jesus response with my favorite verse “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
What beautiful words of comfort. What a gift to that sinner. What a relief to a weary soul.
There are many verses to hang your faith upon but this one sentence means the world to me. It reminds me that while I tread this earthly path, it is not my permanent home…I belong to and believe in a Savior who guarantees that I will, one day, live with Him in paradise.
On this Good Friday, I look to my precious Lord and I say…
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46
Hands are such a personal thing. Hands reach out to hold the ones we love, to hold the ones we are losing and to serve those who needs us. Hands are a touch, a blessing, a remarkable way of physically showing we care…we are secure.
I remember sitting in church with my father and holding his hand. My Dad had large hands and they were tanned and strong. Even as a small child, I knew his hands were special because they belonged to my Dad. They belonged to me. I felt safe and protected and loved.
It was my Dad’s hands that picked me up when I fell, his hands that taught me to swim, his hands that walked me down the aisle on my wedding day and held my babies. I remember every inch of his hands and I remember the joy they brought to me.
When my Dad was dying, I held his hand. I don’t think he knew I was there but it didn’t matter. The touch of a loved one transcends so many things – even the power of death. I held his hand and kissed it after he passed. It was a personal goodbye and seemed so perfect as I turned my Dad over to a Father who waited for him. I am certain the first thing my Dad touched was the loving hands of his savior and that comforts me.
To imagine nail scarred hands reaching out for my Dad is beyond my wildest dreams and yet I am certain it was so. What a day of rejoicing that must have been.
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
As I sat at church on Wednesday night for Ash Wednesday my eyes were drawn to the large crucifix hanging from the Cathedral ceiling of our Episcopal church. It’s an ugly Jesus. No doubt about it. I have seen a lot of Jesus depictions in paintings, crosses and stained glass windows but this Jesus is just not pretty. I wondered how such a magnificent Cathedral could have such an unflattering image of our Lord. But the more I thought about it – the more I realized that this Jesus wasn’t pretty and that is as it should be. Jesus on the cross was most certainly worse than any of us could even imagine. It was horrific. It was painful and it wasn’t attractive. Jesus died a horrible death for our sins. In this world where we expect all things good – it is truly good to remember the one who loved us so much that he would experience the painful death on a cross. I love Him.