April 11, 2017

Easter Includes Promises

Easter is often associated with promises. I concur that Easter shows a completed circle. Deferred requests leading to specific answers. The end of pain and the beginning of healing. Brokenness replaced with wholeness. Death first. . . then newness of life.

The end of the God story reveals this: And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” - Revelation 21:5
But do we take God at His Word on this? How do we handle the gap in time between a spoken promise of God and the actual receiving of the promise? Yes, attitude matters. Yes, patience matters. But I never want to lose sight of the prize. God is planning bigger and better than we realize. His plan has two parts: His Word of Promise and the Receiving of that Promise. Let's not miss either part. We lean in to hear him speak.

We pray things like this:
Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.  -Psalm 4:6

His Spirit confirms that we are on the right path.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. -Proverbs 16:9
We will not boast about our great wait-itude or feign humility and possibly miss seeing God do something great for us and through us. 

Read this power promise found in 2 Corinthians 2:9-10:
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived"___
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

I am so glad that Easter includes promises. I am so glad that we are not being tested and teased by our Father simply to prop up our faith. The process definitely includes patience, but God is not sending us through a spiritual obstacle course. The Resurrection is real. His answers and provision are real. His promises are real. They really become reality in our everyday real life when He speaks them over us.

Abandoned titles for this post include:
Easter Includes Patience  
Stop quoting Jeremiah 29:11 when I am hurting
Jesus died, and now the disciples are really confused.

April 10, 2017

Easter Involves Foot Washing

The celebration of Easter is too short. It is not given the time that Christmas is given. It is a low budget film shoot with a hurried production schedule and scaled down sets. But as we know from some beloved independent films, this holiday has the potential for the most heart. Other than the secular traditions that we (hurriedly) keep at Easter time, the celebrations of The Resurrection can seem shallow. How does a repetitious family activity hold the substance of this powerful event? This holy-day involves the discussion of execution and fear and grief. Those are not fun. They are hard to celebrate.

Yes, Easter also involves the defeat of death and power over the grave. But we feel so traumatized by Jesus' trial, beatings and the crucifixion that we can rarely absorb much more of this event. At Christmas, we are celebrating the miraculous birth of a baby. Babies are fun and easy to discuss with our youngest family members and are unchurched neighbors. At Easter, we are grasping eternity. We are on an emotional roller coaster from Palm Sunday's praise to Good Friday's earthquakes. It is heavy and hard for most of us. This week, I am sharing some ideas, key moments that we can use to celebrate Easter in attainable, meaningful ways. My family will be invited to join me in these activities.

Easter, you are hard. But you are so good.

-Foot Washing-
Peter: Lord, are you going to wash my feet?
Jesus: You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will understand.
Peter: No, you shall never wash my feet.
Jesus: Unless I wash you, you have no part of me.
Peter: Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well.
 John 13: 6-9

Six years ago, I taught middle school Bible to a class of uninterested students and was praying about lesson plans that would connect them to the Word.  We talked about Peter and his reaction to Jesus in this passage. The students were invited to wash each other's feet. I did not require them to participate, only to be quiet and respectful while others were. One student who did not want to remove their shoes was asked to read the passage from the Bible while we washed each other's feet.  Most of those middle school students were moved by watching and participating in this humbling act of service. God softened some hearts, and one student asked that the water be poured on his head and hands like Peter had. 

Notice that Jesus tells Peter that he will understand. . .later. Easter has layers. We can study it and celebrate year and year and still grasp something new. It is important to talk to young children about hard spiritual ideas. It is important to talk to our teenagers and to other adults. We can help each other understand. When we grab a bowl and a towel and wash each other's feet, we experience the humbling ceremony of serving one another. We are softened.

Sometimes we need to see the bowl of fresh water and feel our own clean feet after they have been washed. Sometimes we need to stop telling Jesus what he can't do in our lives. We need to do things his way today, because we will understand it later.

Jesus concludes with, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."

Yes, Lord. We will.