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Have You Been to the Cross

I saw a Twitter post from Christian author Andy Crouch the other day, “Honestly hadn’t planned on giving up quite this much for Lent.” I couldn’t help but chuckle, even if it hit on a point that is all too true. People often give things up during Lent to help them remember Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice for us. However, with Covid-19 and all the restrictions and cancelations we are living with, many of us have been so distracted by what we’ve had to give up, that we haven’t given as much thought to what Jesus sacrificed for us. Maybe more than ever, we need to hear the message of Good Friday and Easter; to remember God’s love for us and His power, even over the grave. It may sound strange, but my suggestion is this: Let’s all take a trip. No need to violate our current travel restrictions; it’s a trip we can take in our minds…and in our hearts.  

To help us do this, I want to share an experience I had almost 20 years ago when I spent a year living in Israel. It took place on a Sunday evening at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a massive complex of 5 ancient churches in Jerusalem that join together to stretch over the sites where the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus are believed to have happened. I had been to this church several times and it had always been crowded with people. On this particular Sunday evening, however, it was totally quiet and I found myself sitting down only 10 feet from where it is believed Jesus’ cross had been and reflecting on what had happened there so long ago.   This was where Jesus had been nailed to the cross. This was where he had been lifted up and struggled for every breath until he finally died. His blood had once dripped down on that very ground in front of me. I thought about what it must have been like to have been there, watching it all happen, and I found myself horrified as I considered the reality of how Jesus had suffered that day.  

But it wasn’t just the horror of Jesus’ death that struck me. I found myself overwhelmed with His love. As I reflected on His sacrifice, I realized again that Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross…but He did. He did it, because I needed Him to. He had done nothing wrong. I was the one who deserved to die, and yet, He had willingly offered Himself in my place so that I could be forgiven and live. William Barclay caught some of what went through my mind when he wrote, “if the Cross will not waken love and wonder in (people’s) hearts, nothing will.”

The past couple of weeks, I have been struck by the extreme measures our world is taking to minimize suffering and death — and how our Saviour chose the opposite path – willingly enduring the path of suffering and death for me.    

In these days before Good Friday and Easter, I encourage all of us to take that trip.  To visit the cross and ask God to help us understand what Jesus did for us on that first Good Friday. As we do so in the context of challenging days ahead, may God grant us eyes that see and hearts that understand how much He loves us. May we see what that love cost him and the gift we have received because of it. 



Bulletin March 29, 2020

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Feeling Anxious

March 26, 2020

“Feeling Anxious…”

 

I’m curious how anxious everyone’s been feeling with everything that’s been going on.  I suspect this has been stretching everyone in ways we might not always want to be stretched in. 

 

I’ve been trying to figure out what doing church from home looks like.  I’ve been reading all kinds of e-mails and social media postings, I’ve watched a few churches service that have been live streamed to see what others have been doing, I even learned how to do a Zoom meeting online.  But there was a time yesterday, when it suddenly felt like it was all too much.  I realized I was feeling overwhelmed and I had to shut it all off and just be still. 

 

The words Aaron shared a couple of weeks ago at the start of our last service together came to my mind.  “Be still and know that I am God.”  That’s exactly what I had to do.  I had to just be still for a bit and remember that God still has all of this in His hand.  I needed to rest in His presence.

 

Those words, “Be still and know”, come from Psalm 46.  It’s a Psalm that offers incredible comfort in times like this.  In Psalm 46, the world of the Psalmist is collapsing.  It talks about the earth giving way, the seas crashing, the mountains themselves being shaken and falling into the sea.   It mentions nations being in uproar, kingdoms falling, the earth melting away.  And yet, even with everything it describes, it is a Psalm of comfort.  It begins and ends with a reminder that our God is with us through it all. It begins like this, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  and it ends with the words, “The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  And then, in verse 10, there’s the reminder to be still and know that God is still God.  That He is still on the throne…that He’s still in control.  And nothing can ever change that.

 

I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of that truth sometimes…especially lately. 

           

The Psalm is really an invitation to us to be still, even in the middle of the storm. It’s an invitation to bring all of our anxieties and fears and frustrations to Him…and find rest. 

 

I wonder how you are doing at that?  It’s not always easy.  Especially with all the news flying around and all the restrictions that are in place and the many ways they are affecting our lives.  I know I’m starting to feel that isolation.  Sara and I would love invite you over for supper, or to go out to your places.  But we can’t.  

 

I’m not sure what you’ve been doing to help manage the feelings that may have been swirling around in your heart lately.  I’ve gone for a few walks.  Every day after lunch, I’ve been taking the girls outside for lunch recess.  We’ve started singing a few songs after breakfast.  We’re trying to get some exercise in the evenings.  These are all good things, but as good as they are, there’s something else that is far more important.  We need to find our rest in Him.

 

If you’re feeling anxious.  I want to encourage you to hear God’s invitation again today, “Be still and know that I am God”  May we trust in His goodness, His love, His power…and His presence with us.  May we find our rest in Him again today. 
 

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us;  the God of Jacob is our fortress.”       Psalm 46:10,11