Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
A couple of days ago, I sat with a homebound member, reflecting on the depressing news that is unavoidable anytime you look at your phone or turn on a television. Tragedy at an amusement park. Massive casualties as a passenger airline falls out of the sky in China. Car accidents that take the lives of many young people far too soon. Natural disasters that leave people homeless and cities destroyed. Not to mention the ongoing war raging on in Ukraine. Sure, you can take my preferred approach and just stop watching the news altogether. But that won’t stop the sadness from occurring. Evil still rages on this world. Tragedy still transpires. Hurt still happens. Whether we tune in or not, the destruction brought on by a godless, sinful world still shatters the lives of every family. Indeed, many are the things that captivate the public news cycle, but there is plenty of heartache that happens privately and goes unnoticed by most. It is sad that it often takes such shattering calamities for perspective to ground us in what is truly important. They provide a “reality check” for our lives.
Such is how the season of Lent began, a reality check that we are but mortal beings awaiting the return of our conquering King Jesus. “From dust you came, to dust you shall return… ” This season is a somber reminder of the world’s brokenness, of our brokenness. Our time here upon earth is temporary. We are all sin-filled and frail. We cannot stand on our own. We cannot save ourselves. The penitential season of Lent firmly puts us in our place with a harsh reality—“we have sinned and we each fall short of the glory of God.” This is why, to begin our worship services, we drop to our knees in repentance. “Lord, save me! God, give me strength!” We need God’s tender mercy; we need His intervention. As the saying goes, “Tomorrow is never guaranteed.” As a result of sin, death will now come for all of us. This is a morbid and ugly reality. Yet ever since Genesis 3 this has been unavoidable. It doesn’t matter your status or your wealth. It doesn’t matter what is your heritage or worldly accomplishments. At some point (and God-willing peacefully in our old age) we will all leave this world through the unavoidable means of death. Each day is a gift from God. We would do well to not take that granted. This is precisely the reason behind our opening proclamation each Sunday morning to start our worship. “This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Any day we are upright and above the ground, any day we are able to take nourishment is a good day. That is not to say we won’t have problems or feel pain; but it is a day made by and gifted to us by God. Rejoice! Let us not fill our days with resentment, anger, fear or despair. Instead seek to give thanks and overflow with the joy of the Lord. Live each day and each moment with gratitude in your hearts.
The forty days of this Lenten season continue to count down. And with that, the somber tone of this opening blast begins to build with hope-filled anticipation. The darkness lifts and gives way to light. Repentance gives way to rejoicing. Guilt gives way to grace. Sadness turns to celebration. Our posture goes from pain to praise. Shame gives way to salvation. Can you hear the familiar refrains on the horizon? I can almost catch the brass band and banging drums of Easter morning. The organ hymns shifting from somber, introspective tones to melodies that infuse energy and excitement into everyone. The shouts of “Alleluia, He is risen indeed” will soon be filling the sanctuary to the rafters. This is the reason we celebrate the death AND resurrection of our Savior Jesus. This is what the somber season of reflection and confession throughout Lent culminates in. Lent is important; it is necessary. But it isn’t how the story ends. We await Easter! A stone rolled away. Jesus risen. Tomb empty. Death destroyed. Debt paid. Access granted. Tears wiped away. New and eternal life in paradise granted to all who trust in Him.
May this Easter joy, this Good News be with you always! In the midst of endless bad news, in the midst of pain and death, in the midst of hardships and inconsolable grieving, in the midst of cancerous tumors, broken marriages, strained relationships, horrific accidents, unmet expectations, financial hardships—Jesus Christ comes to bring YOU hope. To bring life. To showcase love. To bring a reason to rejoice and be glad. To bring you and me into His eternal family. To bring perspective… that God loves us so much He didn’t want us to drown in death’s sea of despair any longer. Jesus comes so that YOU know—no matter what may happen—God’s got YOUR back and He will never let YOU down. “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 NLT)
"Somehow we just don't make the same boisterous fun of Holy Week that we do of Christmas. No one plans to have a holly, jolly Easter." (F. Mathewes-Green) …We need to change that! 😉
Pastor Steve Vera