Hallelujah

hallelujah-music

Easter is my favorite day of the year. For me, it is better than Christmas…as it should be.

Yesterday, my church closed out the glorious Easter service with Handel’s Hallelujah chorus from his fantastic oratorio “Messiah”. What is interesting about this musical piece is Handel’s unrelenting fervor in composing this masterpiece. Handel was nearly broke, old, a stroke survivor and out of favor with the musical community. This did not discourage him. Handel assembled something wonderful which became a classic that lives on in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. It is quite simple magnificent.

It is said that after Handel completed the Hallelujah chorus, his assistant found him in tears saying “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God”. (http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/bibleandculture/author/bwitherington/) Handel’s wild hair flying about his face and the tears in his eyes were the foreshadowing of a song that would make even King’s stand in awe.

That’s Easter. It’s beyond our ability to put into words really. It’s so outrageous and so divine that to reduce down to mere words is almost impossible.

Music lifts the soul and is a promised part of heaven. Something tells me that the Hallelujah chorus is just the beginning.

He is Risen.

He is Risen Indeed…Hallelujah.

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: Revelation 14:2,3

Quiet Please – Lent 5

Lent Letterpress

I crave silence. I crave a peace-filled moment.

Sometimes when I visit my parents’ graves, I sit on the bench and I am still. I sit and do nothing other than glory in the quiet and peacefulness. The occasional birdcall is welcome as is the gentle breeze on my face. But for the most part, I just sit. It is glorious.

Pretty soon we will celebrate Maundy Thursday watch. This is a time when we sit in prayerful silence in the sanctuary. It is a time to reflect upon the night that Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane; the night His disciples could not watch with him for just one hour without falling asleep. It was a night that Jesus spent alone in prayer with the Father.

I haven’t missed a night watch in over 20 years. Next to Christmas Eve Mass and Easter Sunday, it is my favorite day on the church calendar.

There is something so holy about sitting quietly and pausing from this busy life to seek the face of God. If you sit quietly enough, you hear the creak of the church, the scurry of feet, the groan of the building as it sways with the earth. And sometimes, just sometimes, you hear a still small voice in your soul saying it will all be right with the world. Jesus has overcome the world.

Somehow we are reminded that without a moment of silence, words can lose their meaning. That is the moment when silence really is golden.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:36-46 (NIV)

Palm Sunday in September?

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Retailers have discovered the benefits of having a Christmas in July marketing promotion so count me as pleased when the Dean of our Cathedral decided to study Palm Sunday in September. What a great idea.

I love Palm Sunday where we remember Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It allows us to forget, for a moment, that this joy leads to sorrow. But, and pardon the expression, it is also the ultimate comeback story.

This particular Sunday in the church calendar sometimes seems like a warmup for Easter. Palm Sunday is an important day. It is shared in all four gospels but it is also significant for the mere fact that Jesus allows people to recognize His fulfillment of prophecy.

Sadly, these same people will be calling for His crucifixion in a few short days. It all went very wrong but in the end it was so right…for us.

What a sacrifice. What a King.

Hosannah in September and forever!

When life gives you lemons

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…make lemonade

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?

 

Are you ready?

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I’m finishing up my list of things “to do”. New outfit? Check. New shoes? Check. Fresh hair cut? Check. It’s almost Easter and I’m ready.

 

Growing up some of my best memories of Easter are the pageantry, the new clothes and shoes and the delicious celebration meal after Sunday services complete with bunny cake.

 

Dying eggs for the Easter hunt, putting up colorful ribbons and listening to the choral practice were all a small part of the Easter preparation. The anticipation was astounding. As a child, I knew it was a special season of worship and I was never disappointed.

 

I’m jumping ahead for this one day as I prepare for the difficult days of remembrance. Today, I want to remember the preparation for the celebration. After this, I HAVE to remember the time of reflection and grief. I am going to walk through the tough times to get to the good news.

 

As an adult, I still get excited at Easter. It now ranks as my favorite time of the year. This is as it should be. It is a never-ending reminder that I worship a risen Savior. The beautiful flowers, streamers and colors of Easter Sunday herald us all into a time of great joy. So, put on your bonnet, put on your new shoes and worship Jesus. Look your best for the King.

 

He is Risen…He is Risen indeed.

100% Guarantee

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As a real estate agent, I am often asked by my clients for a 100% guarantee that a sale is going to occur once we have gone to contract. I love my clients and I love closings, but I can’t guarantee a perfect closing.

In this life, we have too many variables to guarantee much of anything. Love can’t be guaranteed, happiness can’t be guaranteed, jobs can’t be guaranteed and anything worth having is probably going to take hard work and effort.

But there is ONE thing I can 100% guarantee.

Jesus loves you!

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the joy-filled shouts, cheers and waiving of palms…He knew His future. But he rode right into the bitterness of those who would seek to bring Him to death. He rode in majesty. He rode for you and for me. 

 

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!

 

In lowly pomp ride on to die.

 

Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain.

 

Then take, 0 Christ, Thy power and reign.

 

O Come Let Us Adore Him

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I love the late medieval and Renaissance paintings depicting the life of Christ. But my favorites are always the paintings that show the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus in her arms.

These depictions are the Christmas cards that I save and frame or hang on my inspiration board. The way Mary holds her precious child and relishes the moment is forever captured by an artist who is inspired to depict this significant time in history.

In the original church, art was used to teach people about Jesus who were unable to read. In essence, art was like a history book that shared Christ’s life on earth. What a moving and lovely way to learn about Jesus. Paintings draw us into the subject matter and allow us, for a moment, to think about Jesus in a way that words cannot accomplish. The paintings reach to the very core of a person who studies the painter’s canvas. Some works of art are too beautiful for words.

I know this may seem an odd post for the Saturday before Palm Sunday but these lovely cards that I look at daily remind me of a happy time. Even knowing the end at the beginning we can appreciate the precious moments of celebration and glory. And so it goes with Palm Sunday.

We sing each Christmas “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and that is what happened that special Palm Sunday as people came to herald the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Almost thirty-three years after His birth, we get one more happy moment of His earthly life to celebrate the Son of God.

O come all ye faithful, come let us adore him…

“O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore him

O come let us adore Him

Christ the Lord”

In my Easter bonnet…

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I attended an estate sale today was surprised to hear one lady walking around asking “Did someone die”, Oh, how sad!” – she couldn’t seem to get past the fact that yes, someone passed away and their belongings were now for sale.

I see things differently. I looked around at the sweet lady’s hats, gloves and costume jewelry. She had a lot of jewelry…but I thought to myself that this lady must have lived large and enjoyed her time on this earth. I also saw that she was a church member who left a well-read Bible. All in all, you can tell a lot about a person by their “things” and she must have liked going to church looking her best.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with owning pretty things and enjoying life. I also don’t find it sad that she couldn’t take all her “things” with her into the next life. I think she knew that this world is only temporary but while she was here – she was going to wear a hat and dress up for the Lord.

I didn’t find the estate sale sad. In fact, I bought one of her hats. I’ll be wearing it to church on Easter Sunday and I’ll think of the precious soul who wore it before me. I’m sure she would be pleased.

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down — when we die and leave these bodies — we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.  We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Everything is New Again!

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I enjoy Christmas cards and still send them out each year. I no longer write long family epistles of our adventures and mishaps but I do try to personalize them so that the receiver knows I put some thought and prayer behind each card.

Christmas cards are a loving tradition that reminds those we love of the birth of Jesus Christ. Somehow sending an e-card or Facebook post just doesn’t seem personal enough for me and I would miss the connection that can only come from a beautiful card featuring the nativity scene, sheep (of course), THE star, or wise men. I like to see what a friend has selected and it makes me wonder what they were thinking or what drew them to that specific card. I often keep cards that I find particularly lovely.

This year I kept just one. It’s an odd choice but I keep it in my Bible and look at it almost daily. All it says is “And just like that, Everything is New Again” – no pictures, no Christmas theme even. I just liked the thought behind the message.

Christmas is easy to celebrate because the birth of a baby is a joyous event and especially the birth of Jesus Christ. The season of Lent leading to Good Friday is a little harder to walk through as a Christian because to do so we have to remember a difficult time of pain and suffering. Who wants to celebrate that? Who wants to see Jesus crucified? It’s painful to even think about this tragic just prophesized turn of events.

As I grow older I learn that the Easter season is truly a beautiful time of worship for Christians. We go through the hard memories to cross over to the good ones. We have a chance to reflect, remember and celebrate. We celebrate a life well lived, a Savior who loves us so much that he would die on a cross for us and the final resurrection on Easter Sunday. Now that is something we should be writing about. That is something for which we should send out glorious cards of celebration and hope. That is a time when Everything is New Again!