Tag: Easter (page 1 of 2)

Time Out at Easter

Two weeks ago I stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum where Jesus did most of His ministry.

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And I listened.

The breeze ruffled the water and ironically, a rooster crowed in the distance.

Was the Lord reminding me of my “Peter-ness”? My tendencies to run fast and crash hard and get so excited that I don’t make wise choices? Continue reading

Soul Food For Easter and Broken Hallelujahs

A couple of weeks ago this book showed up in my mail.

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I flipped through it, but didn’t read closely til a few days later when I was looking out at the bare space and pile of stump chips where our beautiful maple tree used to be, reflecting on the losses in my life this past year. (and yes, that is snow coming down in the picture, making this all the more depressing!)

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I picked up Broken Hallelujahs again, and found such relevance, especially for this Holy Week. Continue reading

What to Do on Your Thursday & Friday When You Can’t See Sunday

It’s Thursday morning as I write this. I’m sitting at “my” table at Starbucks, greeting regulars in this coffee community between reading the account of Jesus’ last Thursday before the cross.

As I am sitting here, a friend stops by my table. A friend going through a dark, dark, time.

Her own cross. Her own death, waiting for resurrection.

She made a brave choice, but the pain on this side seems worse than ever. Betrayal from people near her, loss of community, questions of God. It’s her “good” Friday and she can’t see to Easter Sunday yet.

I think of her as I learn from Jesus walking through His Thursday and Friday before Sunday. We focus so often on how Jesus is God and perfect, and we aspire to be transformed into people who look more like Him, that we sometimes miss the ways He looked like us.  He had friends who let Him down, and desires for an easier way, but in His most Thursday and Friday moments maybe we can learn from Him.

  • On Jesus’ darkest days He gathers with His people. He leans into community. He speaks truth and He asks for help. (Mt. 26:17-46).
  • He gives thanks.(Mt. 26:27, 30) Not a fakey “Praise the Lord I’m dying here!”, but a genuine gratitude for patches of God-light in the midst of darkness. A sunrise, a loaf of bread, a hug, fresh spring breeze. There is power in thanksgiving in the midst of hard circumstances.
  • But Jesus leans into His Father more than His community. He prays, because He knows as important as the company of friends is, the company of God is the only sure thing. (Mt.26:39)
  • There is a rhythm of engaging and withdrawing. Going into Jerusalem and going out to Bethany to stay with friends. Sitting with his home team around a meal, and sitting alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, a short distance away. (21:1, 10, 17, 18; 26:6, 30, 36) Time for processing, and preparation, silence and solitude.
  • He’s doesn’t hold back. He pours out His heart. (Mt. 26:39)

“My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”

  • He submits to His Father’s will because He trusts His good plans. He trusts His Father’s ability to bring redemption and resurrection. New life out of painful death. (Mt. 26:39)

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As I think of my friend right here at Starbucks, I also think of many of you who are reading this in offices and homes and dorm rooms around the world.  Is it Thursday or Friday for you today?  As you look at this hard time are there choices Jesus made that might be helpful to you?

 We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 14:15-16 MSG

**Just a quick note…I’ve changed the commenting system. The good news is it is easier to comment. The bad news is that the first couple of times you comment the system requires me to “release” or “approve” your remarks before they show up. I try to stay on top of it, but don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up immediately! 🙂

Failing Lent

How’s Lent been going for you?  Me? I’m really terrible at it.  My husband majored in Lent, growing up Catholic, but not me. It was never part of our faith tradition, and now it always seems to sneak up on me and all of a sudden it’s Ash Wednesday and I’m stressed about what I should or shouldn’t be doing or giving up, and what the meaning is supposed to be.

Am I supposed to identify with Jesus’ sacrifice or am I supposed to fast from worldly stuff that is sucking the life of Jesus out of me, or am I supposed to pull back to reflect on All Of The Deep Things?

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Those words “should” and “supposed to” float through the air in slow motion like a hand grenade or a heat seeking missile looking for where it can do the most damage. I end up feeling muddled and guilty that I haven’t done it “right”, whatever “right” is.

I can’t find the word “Lent” in my concordance, and certainly not “Thou shalt prepare for Easter by…” But I do think intentional preparation for Easter is a good thing.

I think the idea of Lent is to help us pay attention to God and life and death and resurrection the way it would be good to pay attention to Him all the time – like at 5 o’clock on a July evening when we’re sitting on the patio eating burgers, or on October 3rd in line at the grocery store.

So I’ve muddled through Lent again this year, unlike a young friend I mentor who has fasted from pop (but only brown pop), and sweets (but not on on her birthday or during the week she was in Italy, and chocolate covered almonds don’t count).  I laugh at her, but she says even this has really helped her pay attention and turn to Jesus in the moments she wants things she is sacrificing.

You cannot have resurrection without death.

Continue reading

After Easter

Good morning!  So many of you are new to this blog that I decided to re-post an offering from last year about this time.  I pray it is encouraging to you today!

My cousin died last week.  And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her.  And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness.  And another is deeply discouraged.  I imagine each of you could add something to the list.

And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty.  It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER!  Been there, celebrated that.  Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).

I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May.  Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up

I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary.  Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused... Continue reading

To All Those Who Didn’t Show

I wrote yesterday about the waiting on the Fool’s Bench at Easter.

As it turned out, I didn’t sit.  I stood near the door to church in the Great Room, craning my neck, looking over the shoulder of anyone I was talking to, hoping to see the shaved bald head of my next-door-neighbor and his blond wife walk in.

I prayed and prayed.  I saved seats at two (count ’em, two!) services, which did NOT endear me to those who did come and were tackling others for a spot, practically paying hard cash money so they could sit inside the sanctuary instead of in the overflow rooms.

It didn’t happen.  Yes, the other friend did show at an earlier service and I pray that she felt totally hogswaggled by the enormity of God’s love for her, but it’s hard not to focus on the ones who didn’t come.  photo-109

I’ve been thinking about them…All the friends and neighbors and co-workers and prodigal family members you invited to church this Sunday.  Or last.  Or any one of a bazillion times. Continue reading

The Fool’s Bench at Easter

It’s early Easter morning as I write this at Starbucks.  Husband John has already come and gone to church to proclaim, “He is risen!” at the second of six services (The first was last night.  Weird, but I guess it was already Easter somewhere in the world)

 

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As I sit here, some come in dressed in their Easter best – pastel and fancy.  All patent leathery.  Others wander in their scruffy Sunday morning grunge – either clueless or apathetic or defiant.  I wonder which as I watch them.

Last night John got an email from some friends who have had no use for church.  It started, “You probably hate those ‘dicks’ who just show up at Christmas and Easter, but ___________(his wife) has had a rough month.  Her dad died and she may show up at your church tomorrow.” Continue reading

Doing Easter Better

This weekend I had the privilege of guest posting on the Willow Creek Association blog.  If you’re a ministry leader you may want to check it out here, and take a look at their other resources!

As I write this it’s Easter morning.  Gray, and ugly as most Easters are in Minneapolis. At least it’s not snowing like it has many years.

It’s a little hard to exuberantly declare “He is risen!” when the depressing surroundings aren’t in sync with the joy of the resurrection.  Like Minneapolis didn’t get the memo to put on its Easter finery with bright spring tulips and sunshine and green grass.  Instead we’re still in the death shroud of dirty snow.

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We kiddingly say “Jesus may rise, but in Minneapolis He’s probably like the groundhog – tempted to go back in the grave for six more weeks and come out when the snow has finally melted.”  I know. We probably shouldn’t joke about something as sacred as the resurrection.  But it’s been a very long winter, so give us a little grace please.

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Saving a Place on Fearless (Good) Friday

This morning I sat down at Starbucks at my table next to the fireplace with Phillip.  He’s like Norm of Cheers, friendly and fun.  Except that he’s tall and he’s from England.  He’s here every morning at 5:00.  He knows everyone and chats with all.

Today he wanted to talk about God and church and how he didn’t think God could love him.  And I wanted to listen.

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Underneath the jovial facade, what I heard was fear.  A fear that all of us have if we’re honest.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of not having a place in community where he would be loved and accepted.

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What do you do with Easter after Easter?

My cousin died last week.  And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her.  And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness.  And another is deeply discouraged.  I imagine each of you could add something to the list.

And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty.  It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER!  Been there, celebrated that.  Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).

I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May.  Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up

I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary.  Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused...

She’s so wrapped up in her own despair she doesn’t recognize Jesus.  And He’s RIGHT THERE! With her.  But at first her grief is larger than her God.  It’s all she can see.

“I will never leave or forsake you.”

And Jesus asks her “Why are you crying?

I imagine a gentle tone and understanding in His eyes.  And I think, “What would Mary have answered?”

“I’m wrecked.  I’m disillusioned.  I’m lonely.  I’m afraid.  I don’t know what to do.”?

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

And then Jesus says her name.  “Mary.”  And I imagine it like a parent would softly say the name of a distraught toddler as they tried to soothe away their tears.

In that one word it seems Jesus is telling Mary, and us, so many things.

I’m here.  And it will be ok because I’m here.  I see you.  I understand your pain.  I hurt with you. Just a few days ago I was the one saying “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  So I get it.  Really.

“Do not fear for I have redeemed you.  I have summoned you by name.  You are mine.”

So for Joyce and Katie and Sue and Nikki, and so many others I pray that you might sense Jesus turning to you and asking “Why are you crying?”  That you might sense Him truly enter into your pain and gently say your name.

Sometimes I guess I just need to be reminded that Easter isn’t just about Easter.  It’s about all those days after Easter when we cry or feel desperate or disappointed or alone and it seems like Jesus has left the building.  But He hasn’t.  So maybe I’ll leave the Easter decorations up another week.

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