Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter: The Day In Between

There is Good Friday.  There is Easter.  The day in between, Saturday, is almost a forgotten day.  I imagine today what it must have been like for the friends of Jesus.  I imagine the searing pain of loss that his mother Mary must have felt.  I can identify with his siblings for sure.  Luke's Gospel tells us that his remaining friends on the hill watched as they took Jesus' body down from the Cross and hastily prepared it for the grave.  This man was dead.  Many of them walked back to Jerusalem beating their chest as as show of grief.  The great Jesus was now a corpse.  There was no hope to come for any of them.  They were living the day in between Good Friday and Easter.

I remember when my life between Good Friday and Easter began.  It was July 7, 1993.  On the night before, at 11pm, my 16 year old brother was killed in a horrific car accident.  I remember what it was like to wake up in a fog of grief that morning.  It was hot like hell.  The temperatures would rise to over 100 degrees before lunch.  I remember walking outside into our back yard and leaning over the fence and staring at an empty volleyball court where the net I had bought with my brother sagged a bit.  The ball still rested there in the middle of the court from a game we had played a night ago.  I walked downstairs into our practice space.  His drum sticks were hanging in his new leather stick bag attached to his brand new 12 piece drum set.  He had just purchased the set a few weeks prior.  His dog Pebbles moped around.  The neighbors told us that the dog had been wailing throughout the night while we were at the hospital.  Tuesday was death but so was Wednesday.  I and my family and friends were now living the days in between Good Friday and Easter.

Many of you know what this is like.  Those of you who have been through a tragic death, a tragic piece of news, or a tragic brokenness know what it is like to live in between days.  Every time that anniversary comes around, the air smells and feels the same, you are reminded that you are living in between days.

Saturday was the in between day for the friends, family and disciples of Jesus.  They would feel the reverberations of Saturday throughout the rest of their lives.  The time of year that we have come to know as Easter was not a pretty time for the church and especially painful for Mary the mother of Jesus.  Did you know that Jesus' brother James was taken captive by Herod during Passover just a few years after Jesus had been killed on a Cross?  James was ultimately thrown off of the temple wall to his death.  Can you imagine what Mary felt each year as Passover approached?  James would not be the only one to die for the Gospel.  Each time another friend died they were reminded that they were living in between days.

The good news is that in order to be in between days there must be two bookends.  Good Friday sits on the left of Saturday.  But Sunday sits on the right.  The resurrection is the game changer.  The resurrection is the only reason why we can say that we are living in between days and not just living out our days in hopeless grief.  When Jesus comes again there will be no more Saturdays like the one after Good Friday. There will be no more July 7, 1993 Wednesdays.  There will be no more days like the one you experienced after the shock lifted and the reality of the road you have had to travel became all too clear.

Your road of grief is ultimately leading to the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.  We all live in between the grief of Good Friday and the victory of Easter Sunday.  We live with a grief in the past and a hope in the future.  Take heart, a day is coming when tears will no longer be mixed with laughter.  There will be no more bittersweet but only sweet.  Jesus is coming to remove all that is bad and restore all that is good.  Live in between the days.  Mourn when you must, but mourn with hope.  Jesus didn't stay in the grave.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good Friday Invitation

Some 30 years ago I came to know Jesus as Savior.  It was on Palm Sunday when I told my mom that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart.  Later that week, we attended Maundy Thursday service and Good Friday.  My life was changed as the weight of my confession of Jesus began to make sense.  I was overwhelmed as a 6 year old.  I cried as the little choir sang the old hymn, "Were You There."  There were no special effects.  There were no fog machines.  There were no church people dressed up in bath robes, no actor's portraying Jesus on a cross.  There was no trickery.  Just the Holy Spirit taking hold of my little heart.  I wasn't afraid of hell. I wasn't trying to be like my parents.  I just knew I wanted to know this Jesus that died for me.  
This Friday I am hoping that some of your children will be sitting with you.  We're going to come together to reflect on the Cross of Jesus.  The night will be full of music both celebratory and dark.  Between each song we will ask a question from the Cross.  We will move through the Scriptural account of Jesus betrayal, trial, death and burial.  This Good Friday is appropriate for all people of all ages.  
I hope, as a church, that we approach the Cross in awe, thanksgiving, confession, repentance, tears, joy, and that we are confronted with the questions God asks of us as his Son hangs on a tree.
There are other things you could be doing on Friday night.  I don't mean to Jesus Juke you.  There are movies to see, people to hang with, dinner dates to keep.  But as a pastor, I want to encourage you to be there.  When like minds and hearts join together to make much about Jesus, something special happens.  We moved the service to 7:15pm so that families could have plenty of time to prepare themsleves and their hearts to join with the rest of their family this Friday. 
I also want to encourage you to invite your friends and family.  Go out to dinner with them before or afterward.  Take them out for dessert.  Meet them at the doors.  Introduce them to the grace that you have experienced because Jesus went to the depths.  He embraced the Cross so that you could embrace God.  This is worth the step in faith it might take to be missional.  
See you on Friday.  
Pastor Dan