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Archive for April, 2017

“We’re you there
When they crucified my Lord?”

I remember the first time I heard the lyrics to the song were you there, and tears fell onto my cheeks.

Over a hundred years it was a negro spiritual included in a book called Old Plantation Songs, and is a song of questions … from the past and for today.

Today marks the day before the day known as Good Friday.

For some it is called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. It is a day in the Holy Week when the Last Supper is remembered, and is the model of the ritual of Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist.

For me, this is the greatest day of contemplation of the entire Holy Week leading to Easter Sunday. On this day I wonder at the events on that day of calm before the storm, for Jesus.

A day of prophesying and preparing his followers for what was to come.

A day which, he knew, was his last chance to speak to his friends who would become his church.

A day when he knew what was to come.

A day when food and wine flowed liberally for his twelve, but the reference point that they were got stuck in his throat.

They lay on their sides enjoying the celebration and sustenance of that day, yet it was his impending death that would give them sustenance and celebration for the rest of their lives.

I often think of the questions of that song, on this day. I ask them of myself, as I prepare for the reality of their (affirmative) answers. We were all there … we are all there.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?)
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

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When my kids were young, I would sometimes hear their cries from the bedroom at night. When I would ask what is wrong their response would be, “I’m scared, Momma.” And so I would ask the reason for their fear. Sometimes it was a fear of someone dying, or that their favorite toy was lost, or the dark was too dark, or they just felt scared. I would then sit, or lay, on their bed and say soothing words, sing soft songs. Inevitably, they would soon drift off to sleep.

There was no magic potion that eased them into restful sleep. What my children needed was not so much resolution of their fears, but my presence with them through their fears.

Do you remember times when the presence of someone you loved was the best comfort in the face of fear?

Maybe it was walking home in the dark, as a teenager, after watching a scary movie. Or holding your dad’s arm while walking down the aisle at your wedding (or maybe you were his comfort?). Or that friend who sat with you during chemo treatments. Or the one who held you close as you walked through a great sadness or depression.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

This Friday, Christians all over the world will walk through the valley, as we remember the sacrifice of Christ for us.

As his body hung on that cross, he was so aware that he was alone. A loneliness that he was born to bare, a loneliness that his divinity did not deserve.

Yet, Jesus, though the fear of the loneliness of the dark overwhelming, showed that he chose the accompaniment of the name above all names.

According to Elicott’s Commentary:

“how it was possible for the Son of Man to feel for one moment that sense of abandonment, which is the last weapon of the Enemy. He tasted of despair as others had tasted, but in the very act of tasting, the words “My God” were as a protest against it, and by them He was delivered from it.”

He spoke the name of his father when he shouted, “”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), and in doing so he declared,

even though I am in pain

even though my heart is heavy

even though I have wrongly been declared guilty

even though I will die a lone being

I will not fear, for you are with me as long as I have breath left to say your name.

The presence of God is there for us all, we need only to call on his name.

 

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john-16-33

They took palm branches and went out to meet him,
shouting,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
John 12:13

The triumphal entry of Jesus the Christ into Jerusalem was a day of celebration, a day of joy and hope … but it preceded so many other events.

Hosanna preceded Jesus prediction of his coming death. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say?” (John 12:27).

Hosanna preceded Jesus announcement that one would betray him … sharing in the bread itself. “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” (John 13:21).

Hosanna preceded Peter vowing to lay his life down for Jesus, and Jesus declaration that before the light of day, he would deny him not once, but three times. “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (John 13:38).

Hosanna preceded his arrest, trial, torture, crucifixion and death.

Today, in Egypt, over fifty have been killed, over one hundred have been killed, in two attacks.

“The blasts appear to have been timed for maximum impact, as people gathered to mark Palm Sunday. It is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.” (BBC)

The people, the Christ-followers, arose to sing hosanna.

Hosanna preceded the trouble.

Before fulfilling his passion for us, Jesus reminded us of the reality of life, of a life of following him:

In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33

Hosanna precedes the trouble. But the trouble precedes the glory.

On the day of his triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, Jesus foretold his own fate, but also the fate of those who would follow him:

“Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
(John 12:23-28)

May God be with those in our world who are suffering troubles. May they, once again, sing Hosanna.

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“Dare to be a Daniel 
Dare to stand alone …”

I remember singing that Sunday School song as a child. I loved the story of Daniel, the Jewish prophetic prayer-warrior and his no-bending-to-the golden-calf buddies, who were sent to a furnace, where their Saviour met them in that hot spot. Some may say he was a dreamer (giggle …) in his Babylonian digs with the insomnia-suffering big guy, Nebuchadnezzar.

But there was a part that, as a child, I missed.

“Your Majesty, we will not try to defend ourselves. If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

As I drove down the road this week, alone, I heard those words in a song … but even if you don’t, and the faces of people … real-life Daniels, came to mind …

that friend who lives with daily physical pain (and more), yet she intercedes for others in prayer.

that teen whose parents divorced, and yet her faith seems to grow every day.

that man who suffers from a brain injury after being hit by a distracted driver, and yet his laughter is his daily gift to many.

that parent who is aching from rejections from his kids, and yet he is available to them when they come to him.

that woman who is lonely for her husband, yet she knows that God is with her.

Despite pain, loneliness, rejection and other anxiety-prompting circumstances, they hope in the One who can change their situations … but who doesn’t always do that.

I think that the purest form of humility is worshipping one who can, but doesn’t always. He is able, he can … but even if he doesn’t, our hope is still in him … alone.

Even If is a song by Mercy Me. Maybe, today, you need the encouragement that such Daniel songs taught us in childhood.

“Give me the strength
To be able to sing
It is well with my soul”

 

 

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A couple of weeks ago, driving down a Vancouver street a vision of delicate pink hues caught my eye and took me twenty years into the past.

It was an early Pacific West Coast spring. The air warming the Earth, the air and the hearts of the locals.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 9.38.18 AMAs I looked outside my window the sky was the brightest blue, and the street lined with so many pink blossoms that I felt I could almost smell their scent through the window.

The magnolia is the picture of delicate fragility, yet their petals are dense, slow to open, long lasting yet never long enough. Theirs is the scent of spring itself, floral and fresh and sweet.

In my arms lay a bundle of pink, wrapped in a white blanket.

Twenty years ago!

This copper-haired, pink bundle was a miraculous answer to prayers too numerous to count.

I sat on the hospital bed, feeling the awesome presence of the most creative being, who was revealing his nature to me, from the vision in my arms to the one blowing gently at the street.

“Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.” (Genesis 33:5)

The miracle in my arms … she was always mine … she was never mine.

It is hard to find the words to adequately express my love and hopes for you (imagine, me being without words).

I will use the words of the apostle Paul to do that:

“I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and all that he has done for you. I pray that your heart will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future he has called you to share. I want you to realize that God has been made rich because we who are Christ’s have been given to him! I pray that you will understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him.
Ephesians 1:16-19

As we celebrate twenty years of life and breath today, I want you to know that wherever you may go, whatever you may do, you are still in the creative and loving arms of your creator … who loves you more than anyone else.

Love,
Mom

 

 

 

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Come-Alive-–-The-Moving-Forward-Series-–-Part-4-Pocket-Fuel-on-Jeremiah-1-5-longWith each day, each assignment and event our youngest son (and our family) is moving closer to the end of his high school years.

This weekend was such for him, as he worked to complete what is known as a Transition Plan (T Plan). It is a presentation which he does for a a group of family and friends, as well as a school staffer.

Though I, as a mom, and a school staffer, love to hear and view these presentations and to learn about the past, present and future of the lives of the students, I have not loved the pressure that this puts on the students (my own as well as the others).

Perhaps it is because it occurs in the final year of high school, when there is already so much pressure on the students to have their futures figured out.

Of our own three kids, this T Plan assignment has been much work, with little joy.

Our oldest, a perfectionist (kinda goes with being oldest) worked for weeks ensuring it fulfilled all the intended goals, and was amazing in every way. The evening of her presentation she ended up with technical difficulties, resulting in great stress and little joy as the presentation had to be viewed from her computer screen.

Our youngest daughter simply did what needed to be done. It was just another assignment to her … she did it and crossed that hoop off her list.

Our youngest son … he, well … this assignment was a constant reminder that he doesn’t know what his future plans are yet, and so it has just been a reminder and pressure to get it all figured out.

Finally, yesterday, I sat him down, and communicated more clearly to him that it is okay to not know what the future holds, for the heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9) anyway. I assured him that many of the plans of his peers will change, even in the next year.

Then I encouraged him to tell the truth about his future plans …

that he does not know what they will be,

that he simply cannot imagine next year without the community he has spent the last thirteen years with.

Then I reminded him that God has plans for his life, for next September, for his future. There is a plan, there is a hope, and when he is ready, it will be revealed.

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