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Well maybe not this afternoon, but certainly tomorrow. Interesting that this post is the one queued up and ready to go right before Easter.  Christ’s followers felt lost without him.  Their beloved teacher and brother had just died, hung upon the cross like a common criminal.  Imagine what they must have been feeling?

But they just didn’t get it.  Christ was coming back and he was coming back soon.

We are Christ’s Easter people.  How does this effect our lives?

We are free from the legalism that had overtaken so much of the people’s energy and lives.  Yes, we will make mistakes.  Yes, we will sin.  We are, after all, human.  But we don’t have to buy our way back into the temple.  There is no one waiting between us and God with their hand held out waiting for the coin needed to purify us.

No one is standing between us and God.  There is no longer a high priest.  We can approach God directly.  We can speak to Him and listen for his word.

We are his and he is ours and he is there for us all.  We just need to pray and to listen.

Have a Blessed Easter everyone!

–SueBE

Life is hard. There’s no denying it. But during this Easter season, we are reminded that there is proof of the resurrection all around us.

Fact:
Friends will betray you
they will dine beside you
then sell you out for silver.
The road will always be uphill
and the load will nearly break you.
(Others can ease it, briefly,
but they cannot die for you.)
You will taste sweat, blood, bitter
liquid; your body will snap, sag,
breach and be broken. You will die,
ultimately, alone.

Fortunately, friend,
One has gone before
holding hope in his hands like a loaf of bread.
Even as you close your eyes
to all of this, you will open them again.
Like an Easter lily, you will wear white.
Like Easter morning, you will be born.

Be glad and rejoice — it’s Lent!

I know that’s a tough sell. Lent has always been perceived as a trying time, a time for sacrifice and teeth gritting, fasting and selflessness. Not exactly joyous concepts. But my pastor has convinced me differently. He says that Lent is the most joyous season in the Church calendar, a time for transformation and salvation. And what could be happier than that?

We all start off the year with resolutions; few of us stick by them. One of the problems is time: A year is an awfully long time to commit to anything on a daily basis. Life gets in the way. But forty days? That’s hardly more than a month. If you use Lent as a time to change/better/renew your self and your soul, you have a real chance of succeeding. And that’s exactly what these forty days are for!

There’s long been a perception that Lent, in the Catholic Church, is about “giving up” something. That’s only partly true. If (as my pastor also explained), you give up chocolate for Lent, only to rip open a three-pound bag of M&Ms on Easter Sunday and gorge yourself, you’ve missed the point entirely. The idea is to improve yourself and your soul. Giving up cigarettes for forty days, if you can convert this trial into a long-term plan to salvage your health and live longer for those who love you — now there’s a proper challenge. Or if you can give up using plastic water bottles for Lent, then continue this small kindness to the planet in the days that follow Easter — that is what Lent is about.

Moreover, Lent is about addition, rather than subtraction. It is about adding forgiveness to your daily schedule. Or being kinder to others, more charitable, more positive in our interactions. It is about taking on new behaviors that will improve the state of your soul on a permanent basis. Lent is a step forward in a year — in a lifetime — that we seem to spend going in circles. It is spit-polish for the soul.

And we want to get our souls shined up. Because the other element of Lent is salvation, specifically the salvific act of Jesus, who died to save our souls. The promise of Heaven has been given; it is up to us to hold onto it. How are we doing that, if indeed we are doing it at all? Lent is a time for self-examination, a yearly check-up of sorts.

Most of all, Lent is about love, God’s love for us and our love for each other. Let us be loving this Lenten season. And rejoice! A “new you” has just begun.

Hosanna“What does hosanna mean?” This was the question that Pastor Sean asked during the children’s message.  My friend and I in our choir pew were certain we knew.  “Wow. Adoration. Praise.”

Fortunately, Pastor wasn’t asking us, because we were in for a surprise.  It actually means save us.

Wow.

It took some time for that to sink in.  The delay wasn’t because we were wrong.  We’re used to being wrong.  We’re the mothers of teen boys.  It comes with the territory.

It was the perfection of it.

Save us.

What a perfect way to greet the Savior whose grace opens the way and creates a path for all who would follow him. It’s perfection, because we can’t do it on our own.

Left to us, Easter focuses on candy and new clothes, Easter egg hunts and Pinterest worthy brunches.

Left to us, salvation becomes something we have to earn. Left to our own devices, we try to buy salvation with good works and to assure ourselves that we are more worthy than that guy over there.

Hosanna.

Save us.

Save us with your mercy.

Save us with your grace.

Save us from the foolishness

of thinking we can do it ourselves.

–SueBE

There’s something in the air. Easter is almost upon us. But before we get there, let’s take a moment. Let’s remember Christ crucified, Christ beaten and belittled and spat upon. Christ bleeding and gouged and broken. Let’s spend a moment with the deep terribleness of Good Friday.

Why? Because we can’t fully appreciate the joy of Easter without acknowledging the horror of what came before. And because it is a timely reminder of Jesus’ love and understanding for us. We all suffer. We all feel broken and forsaken. It is good to remember that Jesus felt this way too, and that he continues to feel for us in our most hurting moments. Jesus understands pain. He feels it with us, even though we are the ones who caused his pain to begin with. That’s a huge revelation. It is a portrait of forgiveness and love that points the way for our own lives.

I recently watched a video wherein homeless people read mean tweets written about homelessness and homeless people. I watched them sob as they read the cruel, dismissive observations of those more fortunate. This is why we must remember the crucifixion: Because the moment we lose our connection with our fellow human beings, and with their suffering, we become less than human. Jesus sides, and will always side, with those on the fringes, those who have less, those who are ridiculed and dismissed. Before we judge another human being, it would do us well to remember that.

Keep the cross in mind. Watch for the invisible crosses that those around you carry. Allow yourself to feel empathy for them. Help them if you can.

There is no resurrection without the crucifixion. If you can’t embrace the beaten Christ — and the beaten Christ in other people — you cannot, and will not, embrace resurrection. Amid the good tidings of Easter, let’s keep this in mind.

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Recent studies have shown that, from here on out, each individual person of faith must now earn God’s favor.

According to specious research, new data has determined that previous intel on faith has been disproved. So here’s the new way of doing things.

If you don’t belong to the right:

□Denomination

□Political Party

□Bible Study Group

□Clique

□Country Club

□Gym

God will no longer shine his face upon you and give you peace!

From now on, all believers must be in the world AND of it. They have been informed to keep their minds only on lowly matters, tests and trials, and all manner of minutiae, such as gossip, backbiting, and throwing stones.

Aw, heck. I can’t keep this up.

April fool!

You saw that coming, didn’t you? The facts of faith will never change.

Grace is a gift.

God is love.

You are never alone.

Keeping our minds on things that slow us down, jam us up… they’re only speed bumps on a winding road. No need to set down roots in the potholes. Or build a condo on that dead end street. The path to peace has already been paved. All we need to do is drive on home.

But hey, you’re reading this blog; you must be one of the faithful already. So I’m just telling you what you already know. In other news, night follows day. Film at eleven.

Easter Blessings to All!

Lent is nearly over. Holy Week is finally coming into view over the crest of the hill. Our slogging days are almost done.

Most of us think of Lent as a trying time. By the time you get to the end of it, you ought to feel pretty beat up — rent in two by anguish for your sinfulness; exhausted — spent — by self-denial. Not me. I’m flying high these days.

The watchwords of Lent (notably, wait and watch) can place us in a state of cautious anxiety. But let’s look at them another way. Wait and watch! A miracle is about to happen! Jesus is about to defeat death with a spectacular roundhouse punch. And then, guess what? We all win. (Say it like Oprah:) You get a resurrection! And you get a resurrection!

It’s as if a complete stranger won the lottery, then offered you a huge cut for no particular reason. We don’t deserve life after death. Nothing we can do in life can make up for our sinfulness. And yet, in the end, we don’t have to do anything. Life eternal is handed to us. All we need do is follow Christ. He is the ultimate generous lottery winner, only he didn’t do it through luck — he did it through humiliation, suffering, blood and death. He did it so we don’t have to.

Let us spend the last remaining days of Lent basking in a love so big, death could not contain it. As the line goes in one of my favorite movies, “I’ve got wings and I’m going to heaven…baby!” Won’t you join me in celebrating?

The winter of Ash Wednesday
becomes the spring of Easter.
And we like, like lilies,
turn our heads
Godward
inexplicably saved
from our greatest foe.
We shall not be cut down,
but grow ceaselessly
in heaven’s green forever.

Not gonna lie; I’m kind of falling apart right now. I’m beset with a host of physical complaints — too small to dignify by naming, but taken together, quite wearying. And I’m mourning four deaths in seven months, with another looming. I’m tired and sore in spirit and flesh. The up side? I’m ripe for a resurrection, just in time for Easter.

In her book A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary, Marcrina Wiederkehr writes about the voids in our beings, and how they provide God space to work within us. In other words, I may be at my shabbiest now, full of holes, but those very holes give God space to fill me, heal me, work God’s grace within me.

Sure, it would be nice to be wholly holy. But that doesn’t give God any room to maneuver, to effect change. God not only accepts us as ragged and full of holes, God loves us this way. As long as we are open to God’s presence in us, filling and patching and making us new, we have the opportunity for real greatness. And real grace.

So as holey as I feel right now, I know I’m in a good place. In fact, I couldn’t be in a better one. I’m ready for God to enter the voids and to make me whole. There couldn’t be a better time for it. Happy Easter, everyone!

This is one of the pieces that we are singing on Easter Sunday.  No, it isn’t us but it is a lovely anthem.

–SueBE

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