So many of our days are “ordinary”, insignificant for lack of notable achievements or milestones. In fact for many of us we often spend days caught between the promise and fulfilment. We are in the hallway. And well it feels at best uneventful. It’s not exhilarating. But it is in these times that our attitude, our character and our integrity are tested much. It’s when we keep on keeping on.
It’s the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The day with no special name. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are perhaps the most significant days on the entire church calendar. We learn across these two days that when God seems most absent He may be closest to all; when He looks most powerless He may be more powerful. The sacrifice and the victory seen on these two Holy Days. Powerful and significant days, but I would suggest to you that in a real sense we live our lives for the most part on the Saturday, the day in between. That time between the promise and fulfilment.
Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is Saturday. Just Saturday. Not worthy enough for a public holiday. Just an ordinary day. A day that is like so many other days. It’s the day after the doctor’s report, the bank statement arrival, the day after the relationship breaks down. It can be a dreary and wearying day. Weary from grieving. Wearying from fighting to keep hope in the promise still to come.
We may be in a Saturday season but we can live it with the power and revelation of Resurrection Sunday! The resurrection of Jesus gives birth to a hope that says you may be in the middle of circumstances that deny a reason to have hope but you can still hope. Hope reinterprets circumstances. God’s resurrection power turns death into life, despair into hope, weakness into strength. It may seem like nothing is happening, nothing is changing, but God is always working behind the scenes for us!
It may be a Saturday but let’s live in the light and life of Resurrection Sunday!
The calendar decrees 1 March is the first day of Autumn. It’s a definitive, set time. The appearance of Autumn however has been much more gradual and subtle signs evident before the official start of Autumn.. Leaves on trees slowly starting to change colour and fall. Acorns falling from the tree and losing their lush vibrant green colour. Temperatures cooling.
An increase in age is officially celebrated on the date of birth but the signs of aging much more gradual and discreet. When did my 4 year old start looking like a school boy and lose the preschool chubbiness? And those grey hairs on me just keep on sneaking in!
Our faith too can have milestones – definitive days of celebration – day of baptism, confirmation or other notable occasions – the day healing received perhaps. But most of the time our faith is marked in the daily, less momentous exchanges of our spirit with God. Prayers, time spent in the Bible, times in worship. The key question is are we growing in faith, in intimacy with God? Is there evidence of a strengthening in our faith, a growth in our knowledge and relationship with God?
May this time of Lent be used to journey forward, to journey deeper with God.
During the season of Lent, it’s tradition to “give up” something. To fast from a particular food or activity. Coffee perhaps (eek!)? Maybe a favourite television programme or hobby. It’s about making space, making more room for God in our sometimes cluttered lives. The focus isn’t on what we’re giving up but what we’re making room for. As we stop ourselves from ordering the coffee or sitting down to watch that programme, we not meant to mourn what we’re missing out on but to take the time – even those few precious moments to think on Jesus.
Giving up something creates more room for more of God in our lives.
As Lisa Bevere wrote “fasting is more about turning your soul toward God than denying your soul things.”
As we journey towards Easter it’s about making room, recalibrating our hearts towards Jesus and the revelation of what He did for us.
Within the city of Jerusalem amongst its many roads is a narrow street called Via Dolorosa. According to tradition it is the path that Jesus took, bearing the cross to Calvary. Today the street looks as ordinary as the ones surrounding it. People pass through quickly. It is part of the hustle and busyness of Jerusalem. People on the way to work, to the shops, for errands.
Except not all pass through at a fast pace. For scattered along this street are the Stations of the Cross. They give cause for pilgrims to come, to walk the road and to pause. To pause and remember the path that Jesus took to the Cross. We may not all have the blessing of visiting Jerusalem but Easter gives up the opportunjty to do the same. To take time out of our busy lives and to remember, to meditate on the amazing truth that our Lord would willingly lay down His life for us. That He would take on our burden of sin so that we don’t have to. Forsaken so that we won’t be.
The Via Dolorosa means “The way of Sorrow”. It is a sad path to walk. To know that our Lord walked it in pain and agony. And each step took Him closer to the gruesome, torturous death on the Cross. Yet walk this path He did.
But we can take comfort and assurance from the fact that this was part of the plan all along. As Max Lucado wrote “the path began, not in the court of Pilate, but in the halls of Heaven…His desire was singular – to bring His children Home.”
It may be the “Way of Sorrows” but it is also the way home for us and as such the Way of Victory.
“God put on Him the wrong who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 Message)
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
It was a triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The city, already abuzz with crowds gathered for the Feast, turned their focus onto Jesus. They celebrated His arrival, they took palm branches and cloaks to cover His path. They cried Hosanna as they praised and cheered Him. What joy, what excitement.
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13)
Yet a week later, those same voices stop shouting “Hosanna” and begin a different chant “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The celebration of Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem quickly turned into a jeering, mocking crowd. From hosanna to crucify Him, the crowd had turned. How fickle, how forgetful, how easily led astray they were.
“But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify Him!” ” (Mark 15:14)
I am challenged though. Are we the same? Do we on the one hand proclaim “Hosanna” and on the other mutter “crucify Him”? Do we give our all to Jesus on a Sunday, but on Monday morning lapse into our sinful nature? Are we just as fickle as that crowd? We worship Jesus, declare our love for Him, but then refuse to surrender our lives to Him? Refuse to be obedient to His call and to make Him our priority? Times when we stay silent but should speak up, times when our faith is more in our employer than in God our provider, times when our judgment lacks or we fail to show grace?
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
Lord – may our hearts remain steadfast and true to You!