Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
In between my freshman and sophomore year in college, I worked for the Denver Tech Center doing everything from planting flowers to mowing medians. On one fateful day I lost a good part of my left big toe in a mowing accident. I remember the first thing I said to my dad when he arrived at the hospital was, “I’m never going to be able to wear sandals again!”
Of course these days, I wear sandals anyway. But the scars of that day are still there—that’s the nature of being human.
The homilist today at church reminded me in a real way how sometimes we skip to the end. At Easter we recognize the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we tend to forget his Passion and the effort it took to get to the “good part.” Our Lord was scourged, beaten, plucked of his beard, and spit on. Then, he dragged a heavy cross full of splinters to hill where he was nailed to it.
We tend to forget the suffering and pain is the true zeal, the true love and sacrifice that comprise his Passion for us. Every step to Calvary was to bear our sins and redeem all of us so we could join him for eternity. “Jesus accepted the world for its brokenness,” the homilist said, “and he came into it anyway.”
In the Luke 24:36-38, the scene is set for Jesus to appear to the disciples. When he does he asks them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?” Then he says to them, “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.”
In a special moment, Jesus shows them that he is present with them. He reminds them that in an authentic way that his scars are not gone. Those scars prove his love. He paid the ultimate price of “laying down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13), and he wants to remind us we are worth it.
Sometimes in our daily lives we see ourselves as worthless, as unloved, and unsalvageable. But Jesus reminds us of the truth with his wounds.
See! I did this for you! “Do not persist in your unbelieving, but believe.” (Jn 20:27). We tend to think Jesus was talking about the fact that he was alive, but I think it was something greater.
Every day we feel we fail at something, some days we feel we’ve lost a piece of us. Jesus knew this. It is why he asks, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?”
Jesus understands our feelings being adrift and useless. “We’ve failed too many times,” we tell ourselves, and we believe the lie that we can’t come back. But in those words “troubled” and “questions”, Jesus is there to remind us that no matter what we do, we are salvageable. Why do questions arise in your hearts? You are worth these scars. You are mine.
Sometimes as Christians we tend to focus solely on the resurrection and also lament about the lack of peace in our lives.
But you cannot tear one from the other. Just as Jesus told the disciples to look at his hands and feet and see his passion, his zeal for us, he also said to them, “Peace be with you.”
In that moment Jesus communicated that with his redemptive act we can be at peace knowing that we are loved, valued and cherished.
That even in his glorified body he carries us with him in those scars. His sacrifice continues…for us. That, is the nature of being human and Divine.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Nature is an amazing thing. Every day new flowers bloom after their predecessors die, new saplings spout after their tall ancestors are chopped down, and new life is born as old life withers.
We are given night and day. What a gift! Each day offers a new perspective on old problems after a night of sleep. Even sleep is a gift.
In the Old Testament, Adam and Eve turned the gift of a full and flourishing nature into a dying hardship. But God promised hope. In covenant after covenant, He promised love. And when the creature of Time was fulfilled, He gave Love.
The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross cannot be forgotten. In a popular Christian song, the words, “Living he loved me, dying he saved me, buried he carried my sins far away” are prophetic. Jesus had to die.
It was not a pretty death that was quick and painless. Scourging is painful. The leather tassels at the end of the whip are designed to inflict excruciating pain.
Crucifixion is designed to slowly suffocate its victim while mentally imposing as much humiliation as possible. Nails are different than ropes. Nails affix the victim to the splintered wood, tearing the shoulders out of their sockets.
Why do I describe a horror that we’d all like to forget? Because without the SACRIFICE, there could be no REDEMPTION. The hard part came first.
And yet, WE are spared. We sin, we ask for forgiveness and it is granted.
Jesus took the weight of our sins upon himself. How often do we thank him for that sacrifice? That is what these next couple of days are about. Remembering the sacrifice that led to everlasting hope.
Easter is not only a time to celebrate the Resurrection that makes our eternal life possible, but a time to reflect on what came first.
Just as at the end of each day our hearts are heavy with regret and disappointment, the promise of the next day gives our thirsty souls hope. We are not abandoned! Nature reminds us that as the old dies, the new lives. The Casting Crowns' song continues to say that "Rising He justified freely forever..."
Thank God for that reminder! Treasure the gift that gives us hope. And be forever grateful for the sacrifice.