Day 45: it is finished (Good Friday)

24 04 2011

it is finished

It is finished. The day is finished, and there are many ways to recognize that the day is over–we’re in our pj’s, Kajsa is asleep, my teeth are brushed, the lights in the rest of the house are turned out, I’ve closed my laptop… and, Abby’s collar. For many years now, Jim has removed Abby’s collar every night, to give her neck a break. Don’t worry–we don’t keep the collar on super tight, but it has to be frustrating to wear a collar all the time. So every night, Abby’s collar is removed, and placed by the door, ready for tomorrow. The day is finished.

Jesus said those words, “It is finished”, in John 19:30, part of the two chapters (John 18 & 19.) read at the Good Friday service. Then he died. “It is finished” referred to more than the day. In fact, the day wasn’t finished. But for those who loved Jesus, the hope was finished, the ministry was finished, their friend and Lord was finished… and, they probably feared, they were finished.

In fact, it was fulfilled–the scriptural prophecies, the mission Jesus had from God to bring love and forgiveness. Fulfilled, but not gone. Finished, as in fulfilled and accomplished. But not gone. Far from gone…

Day 43: the crosses I wear

20 04 2011

John 12:27-36.


I love the crosses I wear. Many were gifts from people I care about, several were crosses I bought while visiting somewhere special, others were simply something I liked in a store with no special significance—just a cross I like. There are some days when I have a hard time deciding what cross to wear, because I like them all so much.

Now that I’m in Holy Week, and the remembrance of THE cross is getting closer, I’m realizing something embarrassing: when I put on various crosses, I rarely think about the cross Jesus died on. Rather, I think about where the cross is from, who gave it to me, and what situation or event it reminds me of in my own life.

I’ll set aside my guilt for a moment–the guilt over not focusing on THE cross when I wear my crosses. And I’ll do a bit more reflecting over the rest of this week. The cross that Jesus carried and died upon, was from the Holy Land. It was given to him by religious leaders, soldiers, ordinary people. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was a gift to Jesus.

The cross was, and is, a gift from Jesus. To us. Though he probably had moments of concern (12:27), this time—the cross—was the reason he came. To glorify God by saving the world.

Day 42: seeing Jesus

19 04 2011

seeing Jesus

“We want to see Jesus.”

This is what some Greeks said to Philip, in today’s scripture passage. (John 12:20-26) These “Greeks” weren’t necessarily from Greece—the word Greek was sometimes used to refer to non-Jews. Gentiles. Whoever they were, “Greeks” approach Philip and say, “We want to see Jesus.” Philip, not finding his copy of “How to talk to ‘Greeks’ about Jesus”, turns to Philip. And they both turn to Jesus.

Instead of giving simple advice, Jesus talks about his hour of glorification. In other words, it’s time for Jesus to die, and to rise, and to be exalted and return to God. It’s time for the cross. It’s Holy Week. Only they didn’t know it as that, yet.

Fast forward many centuries—it’s Holy Week 2011. And this afternoon, I saw Jesus. I was actually invited to church for Easter–a different church.  A friend and I, and our kids, were at a coffee shop housed in this local church. We were packing up to go, and a little boy—maybe six or seven years old—approached us. He had played a bit with the kids, so I didn’t think anything of it. Then he showed me a post card, and said, “you can come back here on Sunday.” I looked at the card, and saw the worship service times listed for Easter Sunday, and smiled. Thank you, I said.. that’s so nice of you to invite me. I already have a church that I’ll be going to on Sunday.

“But you can see this service…” he said, pointing to the card again. Thank you, I said again. I’m a pastor at a different church, so I’ll be going to that one on Easter Sunday. But thanks again for the invitation. He moved on to my friend.

Who knows what this kid was really thinking. Maybe he was being coached by adults, maybe he just picked up the postcard and thought we seemed like nice people. Or maybe he loves his church and loves his Jesus. He seemed quite earnest and excited to invite us to church on Sunday.

Are we this bold, earnest, and excited to share the faith and worship that we participate in? And, if non-Christians were to approach us and say “I want to see Jesus”, how would we respond? How would we explain and show the meaning of Jesus’ glorification on the cross, as we walk through this Holy Week?

Day 41: out of control

18 04 2011

out of control

Out of control. No, I’m not talking about the dandelions. I’m not even going to try to get rid of dandelions. I’m talking about the child’s clothing choices for the day. It was a battle I was prepared to fight over early on in the morning… then I realized, I didn’t need to fight it. As long as she didn’t go out in public like this. Ok, some of you might be thinking, what’s the harm? so the kid insisted on wearing her tie-dyed leggings and other-color-toned-striped shirt…. big deal. Then add the cow gloves. Big deal, right? You’re probably right. (Maybe you can’t see the outfit well enough.. try going here for a better view.) And there are plenty of times when she goes out in outfits I cringe at, because they don’t quite match as much as I’d like… but, oh well. I managed to survive morning.

That aside… what does this have to do with Holy Week? This: the Pharisees said that it was all out of control. Their tactics were getting them nowhere. The crowds, the world, “everybody” was following Jesus. (This week I’m photographing/blogging about a different passage each day. Today’s is: John 12:9-19.) Try as they may, they, the Pharisees, just couldn’t seem to get things under control. This Jesus fellow was too charismatic… he raised that Lazarus guy from the dead, and now, everyone was giving Jesus a parade. What could they do?

As we know, they tried. They tried to get it under control. And they thought they had succeeded. The joke was on them, however. And by “them”, I don’t just mean the Pharisess. I mean anybody and everybody who thought that Jesus was mere mortal, only a celebrity of the weirdest, though most compassionate, kind…

Out of control? Definitely.

The Pharisees had less control over Jesus than I have over Kajsa’s outfit matching tomorrow morning… or of dandelions not coming up in our yard next week.

(p.s. for those who think I should let Kajsa wear whatever she wants, however poorly it matches: don’t worry… some days I will. And for those who think I should do a better job of setting out matching choices before she gets to her clothing drawers: don’t sorry… some days I will.)

Day 31: listening ears

8 04 2011

listening ears

Kajsa started in a dance class a couple of weeks ago at the YMCA. She loves it, of course. And she’s thrilled that her teacher is someone she already knows. It’s so fun to watch her dancing around the house now, trying out new moves that she wasn’t so much trying a few weeks ago.

Each week after dance class, the kids get a sticker on their card, if they brought their “listening ears”. Great idea, Miss Amie! Kajsa’s 2 for 2, now, thankfully!

In the John 11 passage, Jesus has this slightly strange prayer to God, before he called Lazarus out of the tomb: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42)

Jesus is clearly talking to God about God listening. And though the prayer seems a bit strange, it’s also comforting that Jesus talked to God like this. But let’s think, for a moment, about our own communication.

How good are we at bringing our “listening ears” along in our daily routines?

Where is there room for improvement?

And if we aren’t taking time to listen to God on a regular basis, what needs to change in order for that to happen?

Day 30: bound and unbound

8 04 2011

unbound, let go

In John 11, Jesus finally gets to where Mary and Martha were–a place called Bethany. Their brother Lazarus had been dead in the tomb for four days, and Jesus told some people there to remove the stone from the tomb. (Can you imagine that scene?) Then he said, “Lazarus, come out!” and out comes dead Lazarus, wrapped up in strips of cloth. Jesus then told the people, “take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (TNIV and NIV) Or, as the NRSV phrases is, “unbind him and let him go.”

Jesus not only displayed his power in raising the dead Lazarus to life, but he also gave the loved ones power and authority to unbind Lazarus, to let him go, to unwrap him and let him loose. (The Message) I have read various articles and commentaries over the years that suggest Jesus is calling us to unbind ourselves from personal tombs. Jesus calls us to let go of the things that are holding onto us, and we to them.

The amount of physical stuff we hold onto—at least in this country—is shocking. I am guilty of this, too. I’m making progress, I’m happy to say, but have a long way to go. This weekend is our church’s rummage sale, and so it’s a very visible reminder of how much we have that we don’t need.

But we hold onto more than the physical stuff. We hold onto a lot of emotional, spiritual, and psychological stuff as well. It isn’t as simple as dropping off a few boxes at the rummage sale. Letting go of our non-physical stuff, letting Jesus unbind us from our personal tombs of baggage… it seems hard. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe we actually make it harder than it needs to be?

Whatever we are holding onto, whatever is standing in the way of us and living freely in Christ, may the same Christ who loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus also be present to us, helping us to become unbound and let go.