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.

I've got a story and I'm trying to live it right

I was recently referred to this ted talk by The Pastor.  It is a fascinating talk by Brene Brown.  I don’t really want to do her an injustice by trying to sum up her talk so do me a favor… go take 20 minutes to listen to her talk.  Or just read the rest of this post and become intrigued and then go listen to her talk.  It’s fabulous.  I promise.  If you and I get along, you will like it or at least have some things to mull over if you watch it.
She had a lot of really great quotes, one of them that seriously struck me was this definition of courage: “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”  In light of some of the other things she talks about in this talk, it makes more sense (I’m telling you…go watch it).  But even without knowing what she has to say about the power of vulnerability, this sentence kind of makes me ponder a little bit.
To tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.  What does she mean by with our whole hearts?  I think she means the good, the bad and the ugly.  With every emotion that comes with every situation.  To have joy, pain, suffering, depression, anger, frustration, love, beauty and whatever else may come from your heart.  To tell the story of who you are and how you became that person with your entire heart.  To be in a place emotionally to be able to tell your story, live your story without repression of the parts that may be hard to show.
Another great quote she had was after talking about how babies, when born, were wired for struggle.  She says that the job of a parent is to say, “you’re imperfect and you are wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging.”  She then quips, “Show me a generation of children raised like that and let’s see what the world is like.”
This idea, of recognizing that we are imperfect and that imperfection makes us wired for struggle, for hard ship, but that we are worthy of love and belonging.  It’s a beautiful thought.  When a child comes into this world, they seem so perfect and innocent.  I halfway understand parents trying to shelter their children as long as possible.  But at some point, they enter into this imperfect world full of hardships and have to struggle through it, just like the rest of us.  But the job that parents have is to instill in their children that despite of the hardships, they are worthy of love and belonging.
Once we accept that we are worthy of love and belonging, we are more able to have the courage to tell our story with our whole heart.  To not make apologies for the places in our lives that we aren’t proud of whether because of our actions or others’ actions.  To share in the joys of others and to be whole heartedly enthusiastically story tellers.
Now, I have no idea what Brene Brown’s faith tradition is, if she has one.  But I’d like to think this translates into the church.  How do we mak the church a place where people are encouraged in this challenge because of the love of Christ in their lives?  How do I as a pastor create a space where anyone in any season of the heart can find a place to call home?  How do we live out the truce sense of the bible, sufferings and joys hand in hand.
How do we give into the power of vulnerability?  Because I am with Brene Brown, I think it has a distinct power to show us the way to happiness.