the Resurrecting King is resurrecting me

Holy Week.
This week holds a lot of weight for me.
As a former kid on the fringes of church, it was the countdown until I could eat chocolate and meat on Fridays again.
As a teenager discovering her faith for {what felt like} the first time, it was the week where I made myself feel guilty for all the sins I’ve committed or been complicit to in my life.
As a Seminarian, it was the week where we all debated which church had the best theology and the best services for each day.
As a Pastor, it has always been one of busyness, rushing around to make sure that everyone in your congregation has all that they need to fully understand each moment from Palm Sunday to Resurrection.
But this week has felt different for me.  It has to do with being at a new church, in a new city and having new responsibilities this week.  Part of it has to do with where my life is at, where my walk with Christ is at and how I’ve grown from that young kid who didn’t really understand what we were doing all this for.
This week is all out of whack from my normal rhythm.  We didn’t have youth group last night so instead I held a leader meeting to process how our year has been.  As we went around sharing the highlights and challenges of our Wednesdays nights, I heard the underlying thread of our leaders’ desire for our students to feel and experience the love of Christ first hand.
We wrapped up the meeting and I wandered down the hall towards the Sanctuary where I knew the worship team was practicing for Sunday.  I sat for a while and ended up staying for the whole rehearsal.  I stood in the darkened Sanctuary allowing the words of each song wash over me, reminding me of why we do all of these things.
We are creating spaces for people to come and see/hear/taste/experience the great love our God has for us.  That he would send his Son to walk on the earth, to teach the disciples, do miracles and call out the religious leaders.  He came to flip expectations on their head – to promote justice and give dignity to the oppressed.  Jesus came to show us that the only way out of the sin and hardship of this world is through him.
And he took all of our sin – individually and corporately – to the cross.  So that we could have freedom.  So that we could stand confidently before the throne and know we have been made whole in him.  He defeated the grave so that we may no longer be bonded by the brokenness of the world.
He did all of this for us.  So that we may walk freely and to be the Kingdom Dwellers we were always meant to be – that we were created to be.
So this weekend, as we walk toward Easter, let us remember that even though this world brings it’s darkness – the promise of Easter is the Light of Christ in the world.  We have a way out – through Christ.

my sin upon his shoulder

I asked our Kids’ Club class if they knew what happened on Palm Sunday – what are we celebrating?
“JESUS DIED!!!!” – screamed by more than one of them.
I couldn’t help but smile.  “Well, not yet, that’s what we are celebrating on Good Friday.  Does anyone remember what happened before that?”
“WAIT!” one of our third grade girls has that look on her face that she gets when she is processing something.  I can almost see her flipping through the storybook in mind, trying to remember the story she’s been told before – “Is it the day that Jesus rode the donkey?”
I grin back at her and nod my head, “That’s right!  And does anyone remember the name of the town?”  In my mind this question was going to go unanswered.  I didn’t expect them to pull that long name out of their memories but as happens most of the time in this classroom, they surprise me.
“I have a hard time celebrating Good Friday.”
It was almost like a whisper, a quiet confession to his wife and me.  We had been reflecting on how great of a morning it was at church.  Such a joyful celebration of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem.  And looking forward to Good Friday – a service that is near and dear to our hearts as Pastors of this church.
We didn’t respond right away, then we tried to acknowledge the admitted truth while still holding our excitement.  Yes, it’s the sad part of the story but it means so much to us as followers of Christ.  He continues his train of thought, “I mean it would be a tragic story even if it was a no name person on the cross – but it’s Jesus.”
The palpable excitement that I felt from the kids as they shouted “Jesus dies!!” may seem disheartening.  It may seem like an inappropriate response.  But its not.  I don’t think they have really felt the weight of what it means for Christ to die not only for us but because of us.  Because of the Sin that is present in all of us.  For the children it is a disconnect, they know that sin is the problem Christ died to fix but they don’t connect that with themselves.  It happened so long ago, it’s just a fact they can rattle off about their faith but their personal experience of sin is limited.
But we all grow up.  We all eventually realize what sin is, we feel the effects of it when its used against us.  We feel the failure of falling short when we sin ourselves.  Then we see that Christ died for us because of this sin, to solve the problem of sin in our lives and it simultaneously breaks our hearts and gives us hope.
That’s the scandalous nature of the crucifixion.  The idea that the Lord of Heaven and Earth would come to earth, live a perfect life and then die for humanity.  The penalty for sin is death and he takes it upon himself.
But the story doesn’t end there, on the third day He rises again.  He is the Risen Lord, beating death so that we may have life.  This truth is what we need to cling to rather than the sting of his death for and because of us.  We must hold steadfast to the hope of the resurrection, it’s what can keep us going in a world where we are surrounded by sin and brokenness.