Easter: He is Risen – so have YOU.

Out of the dumpster, the man pulled a chair. It had been through a lot; he could tell by looking at it. He turned it over and around in his hands, examining it from all angles. Its varnish was dull and scratched, its wood had gouges and one of its legs was cracked along the grain. The cross beam between the back legs hung down from the left leg, pulled out by strain at some point. The cushion of the seat was stained and ripped in a few places; its previously rich color now faded and drab. It was utterly broken and useless as a chair in its sad, abused, discarded condition. Still, the man took it and carried it with him to his home.

In the shed behind his house was his shop. There he gently began to do his work on the chair. He started by pulling out the old, faded and torn chair cushion. Once that was out of the way, he turned the chair upside down on his workbench and worked the broken leg out of its socket. He replaced it with a new one, perfectly smooth and strong. Then he carefully joined the cross beam to the back leg, gluing it securely in place. From there, he took a long time stripping the old, dull varnish from the chair until the  beauty of the original wood grain could be seen.  He filled the gashes and sanded the scratches in the wood until he could run his hand along any part of the old chair and it was perfectly smooth.

So beautiful was the wood of the chair that he opted for only the slightest stain to protect the newly restored chair and enhance its natural lines and grain. He then turned to the seat, still separated from the wood frame. He carefully and slowly removed the fabric pins from the underside of the seat, freeing the old, ratty fabric from the seat. He exposed the rotted, lumpy and stained stuffing and decided to take that out as well. He put a wonderfully soft cushion on the seat base and covered it over with the most beautiful fabric in his possession. Finally, he secured the seat in its rightful place on the chair.

At this point, he stepped back, crossing his arms, to admire his handiwork. He felt confident that he had restored to its original beauty. He knew this was true because he was the one who created the chair. Years ago, in this very shop, he had turned a lifelong desire of being a craftsman into reality when he made chairs by hand. Each one he made unique. Some were delicate and ornate, others were strong and made for heavy use. All of them he made with love and simply for the joy it gave him to create them one by one. Others in the world might abuse, misuse and toss aside his creation, leaving them broken and battered. But he was always on the lookout for one of his own. Sometimes he found them in dumpsters like this one. Other times he might find one in a yard sale, or by the side of the road. When any one of his chairs came home, he always lovingly and methodically stripped away the years of wear and tear, and lovingly restored it to its original beauty. So does our Creator restore us when we return home to Him.

Hallelujah! He is risen, and because of His resurrection, I am raised with Him!

 

Good Friday Observance

Good Friday is the Church’s observance of  the day Jesus was tried, tortured, convicted, crucified and buried. “Good” seems to be a misnomer when you know what the day represents in the physical life of our Savior. However, without his death, there would be no resurrection. Without his death and resurrection, we would not experience salvation. In that way, Good Friday is truly good—it is a day that profoundly humbles us, but it is a day that leaves us hanging on to the hope we hold for Sunday, when that dreaded stone is rolled away!

We take time out to observe the horrors Jesus experienced for us on Good Friday, maintaining a somber attitude of repentance. This service is most the similar to a funeral of any service in the Church year. We cover the symbols of our faith in black shrouds of mourning. The music is music of repentance and awareness of the levity of Christ’s sacrifice for us. The tone is mournful as we recount the humiliation, torture, mocking, scorn, and death of the Lamb of God. The One who was wholly without sin bore the weight of the sins of each sinner. The weight was excruciatingly painful, but it was borne willingly out of love.

Christ suffered and died for you. For you. He knows your name. He knows your heart. He knows your sins. He knows your failures. He knows every fear you have. He counts every tear. He hears you when you call out to him.  He loves you.  His suffering was because of his love for you. He suffered in your stead. He took the weight of your sins on himself, and paid the price you owed to God. In return, he only asks that you love him back, giving your life to him because of that love. Paul writes that we are all slaves to Christ because Christ bought us at a very high price. And so he did.  But your Savior leaves you free to choose to love him fully or to mock and spit on his love, much like the soldiers mocked and spit on him physically.  In  observance of Christ’s suffering for you, will you come before him fully  and humbly embracing his gift in a new, fresh way?