For each of the last 9 years during Holy Week, I read and reflect on something I wrote on Good Friday the Easter after God turned our eyes toward this new chapter of life…
Good Friday – 2011
Thank You for today, Father.
Thank You for what you did for us today.
Thank You for the [Maundy-Thursday] service last night…
Thank You for working in my heart last night.
I have always had a hard time accepting your love and forgiveness…
thinking that I didn’t deserve it.
I still know that I don’t deserve it,
but I understood last night,
how much you really do love me.
I’ve talked it before.
I even preached it at Camp J last summer.
But, now I am learning to accept it for myself.
Every year for Easter, we are running…
and the whole week is a little crazy.
Every year I lose sight of You.
Saturday comes and I had forgotten
about the sacrifice You made the day before.
I never want to take that for granted.
I’m sorry for the weight of my sins You had to bear on the cross.
Thank You for bearing them.
Thank You for freeing me from the bondage of my sin.
Thank You for saving me from who I might have become.
Thank You for choosing me to walk this path that we are on…
Help me to be a vessel so others can know your redeeming and refining love.
Thank You for working on me…
renovating me from the inside out.
Come inside and clear me out…
all my closets…
remove all the crud and make me new.
I invite You in.
Make me who You designed me to be.
Thank You for all You did this Easter season.
Thank You for all You continue to do.
Maybe I’m unique…Maybe I’m the only one who has a habit of forgetting the significance of the whole week until it is near the end.
If I am, I’m glad that you all do not forget (or take for granted) the incredible significance of this week and the sacrifice made for each of us.
He didn’t HAVE to…He CHOSE to.
Last year during the Easter season, I read a quote that “struck” me…
“The Church is the anvil which has worn out many hammers.” – Theodore de Beze
Jesus came…He lived, died, and rose again to establish, lead, equip, and empower The Church to be the living embodiment of His character and mission.
Last night, “Zoom-ing” our Maundy-Thursday communion service, I was humbled seeing my church family and hearing an update from each family that was able to join with us. The old cliche of, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone” is a real thing! (or is it just an old Cinderella, the 80’s hair band, song?)
I really miss my church family!
In just three-and-a-half years, we have been through a lot together. Some great things…some terrible things. I’ve missed seeing your faces, gathering together to encourage and equip each other, hearing how you all are doing!
It gave me a new appreciation for some of Jesus’ final words to His disciples during the Last Supper,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
We have been called to LOVE each other. There are no stipulations on “each other”…it means everyone! Even those we don’t really like! And, Jesus said that it is through THAT LOVE that EVERYONE will come to know Him.
This is the kind of LOVE that the centurion saw in Jesus until His final breath on the cross that made him a believer!
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” (Luke 23:47).
Jesus came to establish the anvil that is designed to be the base upon which the unfinished, damaged, marred steel is placed to be formed, perfected, restored to it’s designed purpose.
The hammer is suffering, persecution, trials, tribulations…those hard things in life that seem to be pounding us…beating us. The pounding hurts. It sometimes feels like we are being broken down. In the midst of the suffering it is hard to see, feel, or know that anything good can be happening.
However, in time we begin to see that the pounding and beating is changing us. It is making us different. If we have lain ourselves upon the anvil of Christ and His Church (The living embodiment of His love), over time, we begin to see that the pounding and beating is actually removing the nicks, dings, the imperfections.
It is molding us, forming us, perfecting us, restoring us.
In this time we are currently living in, we are all on the anvil, being pounded. As Max Lucado has written, if you find yourself on the anvil “be thankful. It means God believes you’re still worth renewing, restoring, and perfecting” (paraphrased from On the Anvil).
The great reminder is that,
Over time, the hammer wears out.
Over time, the anvil remains unchanged…enduring.
Over time, the damaged, marred, imperfect, unfinished instrument has been reformed, renewed, restored into the image and the design the Master intended.
There is hope because our redeemer lives and has promised NEVER to leave us or forsake us!
On Maundy-Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed three times to His Father that, “this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39,42,44). Each time though, He followed with, “not my will, but Your will be done.
Just before His arrest (& Peter’s miserable attempt to protect Him), Jesus, in Matthew 26:52-54, says,“’Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?'”
Jesus had a way out of His brutal torture, but He did not take the easy way out.
He knew WE had no other hope or option.
He had every possible option but He chose us…
and that meant the most brutal, humiliating, degrading, and painful path so that we could be redeemed…Find hope…Be forgiven.
For Jesus, it was all about us and, for that reason, we should, forever and always, make it ALL ABOUT HIM.
He chose us.
And, for Him, it meant the worst imaginable journey, so that when we choose Him, it can mean that our journey can be greater than we could ever imagine.
The stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb not so He could get out, but so that we could see that He has risen and He has opened the way for us to enter into His tomb, His death, into New Life!
He chose us.
Every year, I re-read what I wrote in 2011 to remind myself not to let this week pass as if it is a normal week. This one is special. I crucified my Lord this week. I hung my sins on Him while He hung on the cross…He willingly took them.
However, the greatest part of this story is that He loves me so much that He willingly took my sins and my punishment upon Himself – only to rise again to bring me new life so that I do not have to live with that burden of guilt and shame.
He has given each of us the opportunity to live into the life for which He designed us.
I am thankful for that and I celebrate that this week.
I never want to take that for granted.
No “official” questions this time. Just the encouragement to never take this day, Good Friday, for granted…(or, for that matter, any day!)
I miss you! Easter doesn’t seem right if we cannot be together.
Not gonna lie…I’m a bit sad about that!
At the same time, I know that God is up to something incredible in us, around us, and through us and our community! Let’s take this time and be deliberate about listening & paying attention to HOW He is inviting us to join Him in that great work!
Happy Easter everyone!