For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18
On this Good Friday, it is important to remember: one tragic, ill-advised and cruel event changed everything. Despite all the ways God’s loved people have misconstrued it all, despite the multiple religions that claim to know it all, despite every doubting Thomas, Christ’s act of sacrifice rings through the ages. The people at the foot of the Cross did not know that in three days Resurrection would happen. They only knew their friend and teacher was dead at the hands of jealous and fearful men. The first Tenebrae service I ever attended was shatteringly emotional. I’d never seen the altar striped, the Cross draped in black, the light extinguished. The worshipers leaving in silence and reflection. Even knowing the outcome would be Resurrection Day – Up From the Grave He Arose – it brought home what was done to Christ the Savior. It brought home what He did for me.
We are beginning the season of Lent and will soon celebrate Easter. Every year about this time television (mostly cable) runs programming about the “truth” of the resurrection, how much of the Bible is verifiable, whether Judas was a betrayer or following the will of the Most High God. Did Jesus really die and then come to life again, or was his body taken by the disciples and everything else a myth? The questions are limitless.
It intrigues me that in the quest for truth in these programs, the messages from Christ are lost along the way. Did he walk on water? Does it matter? Did he feed 5,000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread? In what way do these miracles make Christ more or less believable? Were you there? Did you see?
These programs often miss the message of both the Old and New Testaments: love one another. What does that mean? It means to serve others, and that takes many forms. Not everyone can be a preacher or a teacher, a rabbi or a priest, but everyone can serve where she or he is.
These are one-word descriptions of what service might look like. The Easter story is about transformation. We are transformed and made better every time we reach out to others. We arise each morning to new life and new opportunities. What we do with that is up to us.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
How? That’s the one word question we ask when a crisis arises. How am I going to get through this? How can God possibly fix this? How will I face tomorrow when today is so painful? How will other people think of me when they find out the messy lives my loved ones lead? How will my loved ones get through this? How? How? How? The question isn’t how, but Who? Who will get me through this? Who is at work in the lives of all? Who has promised to be with those who call upon his name? Who will pray for and with me when I have no words of my own because I don’t even know what to ask for? Who? God, whose love is profound and indescribable; God, who knows the hearts of all; God, whose very Spirit breathes through us and renews us and guides us.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
Did you hear about the four-year-old who loaded up her Barbie car with toys and took them to a family whose house had burned down? It happened, and her gesture inspired others to send cards of encouragement, money, and yes, more toys for the family’s three children who lost everything in the fire. We never know when the opportunity will come to reach out and help someone. We don’t need to be a global company with the power and the financial wherewithal of Bill and Linda Gates to make a difference. We aren’t required to change the world. We are asked to love one another by our acts and by our choices, one person, one gift, one smile at a time.
The perfect Advent Calendar! 25 Days of Christmas, An Advent Journey rejoices in the birth of Christ through poetry. Words and phrases that evoke Advent, a time of expectant waiting for the Child of Wonder, inspired each poem. The accompanying scripture reflects on the promises of old, when prophets spoke of a Son, a King, a birthplace, a promise. These brief verses will bring joy to readers who want to take a moment out of busy holiday preparations to remember who we claim as our Redeemer King, and why we celebrate His birth. Add your thoughts and prayers, perhaps your own poems, in the white space entitled “Your Thoughts.”
25 Days of Christmas, Poetry of the Season contains poems in the acrostic style with the first letter of each sentence based on the title. The poems were shared on the author’s One Roof Publishing blog (www.oneroofpublish.com) in December. A friend asked if the poems would be available in printed format. The seed was planted and has grown to be this small offering of celebration. Merry Christmas, Christ is born!
25 Days of Christmas, An Advent Journey is available through this site using Paypal, or at online stores including Amazon.
Through Christmas, 10 percent of all donations and sales will go to a Las Vegas, N.M. chapter of an international organization that supports educational opportunities for women. Donors of $10 or more will receive a complimentary copy of Lines or 25 Days.