Handled

It is easy to get busy and forget what we know to be true. Maybe we don’t really forget, but sometimes we lose sight of those things which form our basics or perhaps we build lives so high that our foundations can seem far away. (I’ve got to be honest: this started off better in my head! –grin)

This coming Sunday we will celebrate Easter. Even people who don’t practice regular religious observances will stop and acknowledge the day whether or not they acknowledge the reason for it.

We do that, too, those of us who will celebrate the Reason for the season. We will alter our normal Sunday observances and, for a time, we will focus on this powerful event which changes all of our destinies…and our destinations…and we will sing and pray and celebrate with new dresses and crosses draped in white, and lilies that bloom, chickens and bunnies, eggs filled with candy and baskets made of straw…

and on Monday we will forget…again. We will return to our regularly scheduled program of programs and we will simply observe our religious practices once more. Or…

We could choose to do it differently this time.

We could remember that God didn’t send His Son just for Christmas and Easter celebrations. We could remember that Jesus is more than a reason for a present or a cross around our necks or a pet given in the mood of the holiday to be inevitably set aside as we return to our other commitments or feel the need to change our appearances so that we can blend in again among those who may be powerful in this world and have no interest in the next one. (ouch)

Oh, the Son of God is so much more than that! He’s rough and tough and kind and gentle. He’s durable! That seems like such an unlikely word, but it is accurate nonetheless. He’s not something to be taken out and gently passed around on public holidays and then placed back on the shelf until it is convenient for us.

One of His closest friends put it this way:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”  1 John 1:1-4 (NKJV)

Did you catch that? Jesus the Christ is eternal. He was really here on earth in bodily form and He wasn’t some distant, untouchable icon. He was handled! I love that! He’s still like that. This eternal Being came down so we could touch Him–and be touched by Him! He isn’t just some fragile esoteric idea. He is REAL and He came for all of us!

Let’s make THAT the focus of our Easter…and beyond! He came to be handled. He came to be touched and grabbed onto, to be held closely and embraced fully. He came to be intimate with us and have fellowship with us on our good days and our hard ones. He is no fair-weather friend. Jesus the Eternal Son of God came to make sure that we could have the opportunity–not a predetermined enforced coercion!–but the opportunity to alter our eternity and spend it with Him. He came out of love so that we could be certain not to miss the Message that God wants to be part of our mundane as much as He wants to be part of our extraordinary. He came so that our mundane could BE extraordinary.

Let’s not lose sight of that on Monday…or today, either, for that matter.

Grace and Peace–and Happy Easter!

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!

Advertisements

For your weekend…

Words foretold in the Old Testament, lived out in the New Testament and remembered with gratitude today:

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no stately form nor splendor; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Thursday

John 13-17 records the words and activities of Jesus and His disciples as He faced the looming horror to come.  Even with that knowledge resounding throughout His very being,  this is the day of loving service, fellowship and last words of instruction.  This is the day of washing feet and Last Supper and “love one another” in this way…

 I worked on a clogged drain today and I thought about how gradual it all can be.  The clog doesn’t develop suddenly, but rather over time.  Little by little the build-up occurs until the slowing down becomes an all-out stop.  Then the bowl becomes a vessel for holding in the dirty things instead of a funnel to drain them all away.

 The same thing happened to dirty feet all those years ago.  Step by step on unpaved roads and through fields of labor the layers built until it was necessary for washing.  Maybe one day wasn’t so bad, but string enough of them together without the cleansing and you’d have a real mess…and an uncomfortable one, at that.

 The dirt and the clogs that keep us from fellowship and from relationship…our choices…our decisions.  Ours.  All ours.  The washing away of it all…that’s all Him. 

 It was that way then.  It is that way now. 

 “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”  Psalm 51:2

The Christmas Nail

I think it was our second Christmas together that we found ourselves in a local Christian bookstore standing in front of a display with lots of boxes.  They were all labeled the same:  “The Christmas Nail” and the package was long and slim and covered in shiny gold paper on the back.  We bought one.  We’ve hung it in our home every Christmas holiday season for the past 19 years…whether we decorated the rest of the house or not.  It’s become that important to us.

It is long and slender and it looks like what it is–a really long spiked nail.  The instructions said that we were to place the nail in a place where only the family from the house would know where it was…prominent enough for us to know about and be reminded throughout the holiday season, but not so much so that it became the focus for those who might come by to visit. 

The whole point of this particular “decoration” is to be a personal reminder that the Baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas came for a much larger purpose.  He came to save the world.  That didn’t happen in a beautifully wrapped and cozy atmosphere…any more than his birth did…in fact, it was far worse.

The saving of the world was no easy thing.  It was angry and brutal, fierce and devastating…and the most loving response of a Heavenly Father to a fallen world who so often chooses to ignore the gift it made possible.  If there was any other way than the cross that could have happened, don’t you think He would have taken it?

So I’ve been thinking about that Christmas nail today.  Maybe it should be on display at this time of year, too…not hidden, not secret…an open reminder that what we celebrate at this time of year truly isn’t about colored eggs and bunnies, Easter baskets full of candy or pretty new clothes to wear, but about a God who loves this world so much that He gave up His only Son…for you…and for me…so that we could spend eternity with Him…starting now.

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (HCSB, 2009)