Archive for Holidays
Today is Good Friday, and I will be off to a Tenebrae service this evening. A friend of mine invited me again this year, and asked if I would read a passage for the service. I’m looking forward to an evening of quiet reflection on the significance of this day.
Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross and what it means for us as believers. God required a propitiation for sin. That could only be achieved through the shedding of innocent blood – historically that was why the Hebrews sacrificed spotless lambs before God. But that wasn’t enough, so God in his infinite Love and Mercy provided a way to make it so that our debts could be paid. Jesus.
He suffered and died for our sakes. That we might have life eternal. Sometimes I still can’t put my head around it, but God has increased my faith that I might believe it even though the enormity of it still boggles my mind.
But His death is not the end of this story, because on the third day, there was an empty tomb.
I had been thinking about that a lot this week. What’s so important about the empty tomb? I mean, Jesus could have be resurrected and left the stone closed over the tomb, right? But would people still have believed?
I think the event of finding the empty tomb is so critical to our understanding of the resurrection, and for the people of that time it was necessary for them to accept Jesus as the King.
Lee Stroble wrote a bunch of those “Case for” books, and my husband just happened to have the one about Easter. I dug it out, surprised by the thinness, and dove into the investigation of the Resurrection. I was also surprised that one chapter was devoted entirely to the empty tomb. The Case for Easter is a short and easy read -one you might consider reading if you want some greater background knowledge regarding the resurrection.
At the end of the chapter where Stroble interviews William Lane Craig, Ph.D, D.Th there is this question that got me thinking:
Read Mark 15:42-16:8, the earliest account of Jesus’ burial and empty tomb. Do you agree with Craig that it is “stark in its simplicity and unadorned by theological reflection”? Why or why not?
So I went back and thought about this some more. Stark. Simplistic. Unadorned. Things that stood out to me were these:
* Jesus died quickly, and it was something Pilate marveled over.
* Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus’ body and laid him in the tomb.
* The stone was rolled into place.
* Women came with the intent of anointing Him.
* The women found Jesus gone and were amazed.
I do agree that this passage is simple and to the point. It seems to capture the events that happened without much commentary. If this is the earliest gospel written, it seems that it simply captured what happened so that people could know. And it is easy to understand. There is nothing here that we can really question about deeper meanings, or what ifs….
It’s simple. Jesus died. He was buried. And then his tomb was empty. No one seems to disagree that the tomb was empty. And it happened to clearly illustrate to us that God is greater… that he was no longer confined by death! It is the reason we celebrate Easter – the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection of Jesus is symbolizes.
Have a Happy Easter everyone!
I so desperately want to be cheery! Especially at this time of year. I want to be excited to celebrate the birth of our Savior, to sing joyously with a choir of people, to feel energized to give, and decorate.
And yet, this season (of all that I can really remember) I am very un-spirited. I was driving this afternoon during rush hour down a major road in town. I saw the brilliant colors of traffic lights, decorations, and the tail lights of hundreds of cars in front of me. And then I remembered how I used to feel as a child seeing those same things. I was filled with excitement, singing carols with my sister in the back seat. I was so unaware of all the problems of my parents and the stress of obligations and responsibilities. Growing up has really put a damper on the way I see things, and I know I need to do something about it.
I want to feel that again. I want this Christmas season to be filled with joy. And yet all I think of is the negatives. And then my husband’s grandmother gets even more ill, and they are going to put her in a home before this weekend, and my in-laws had to drop everything and head out of state. And I have the audacity to wonder what my Christmas will end up looking like.
I share my negativity, not to be depressing or bring any of you down. But I guess to illustrate a point – one that Elizabeth made in her last post. There are many of us out there who are hurting during the Holidays. Even those of us who feel like we always have to have it “together.” I have hope though, because even though I am feeling these things, I know that my God is greater than these. I know that with prayer and time in the Word I will feel that child-like joy return. I have faith in that, and will trust that God is greater than my fleeting emotions! Because our emotions are fleeting – but God’s joy is everlasting!
Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy [shall be] upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; [and] sorrow and mourning shall flee away. Isa. 51:11
Thanksgiving and Christmas are meant to be joyous times spent with family and friends, giving thanks for all that we’ve been given and celebrating the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.
But sometimes, the holidays hurt.
Picture a little girl, sitting by the Christmas tree. Lights surround her in a house full of warmth and love. The aroma of spiced cider, fruit pies, and baked goods hangs in the air. The little girl wears a flouncy dress and has a fancy bow in her hair.
She looks perfect, her surroundings look perfect. All is right in her little world.
Just because things look pretty and good does not mean they are.
What if I told you this little girl sat over by the tree, in the corner, to avoid a family member who verbally abuses her? That this little girl, not old enough to cry out and tell someone that an adult is hurting her, is experiencing pain that she will carry into adulthood. That this pain will color her world and how she interacts with people for a very long time.
We all carry things with us. Whether it’s pain from past abuses, the anger and frustration associated with divorce, or any number of other things that we could label as “baggage.”
It’s there. It may look different to each person, but we all have something.
To those of you who are not experiencing some kind of hurt this Christmas season, please say a prayer for those who are.
And to those who feel like you are suffering alone…know that you are never alone.
Many people have experienced what you are going through and they are there, just reach out to someone.
Remember, we have a Redeemer who will wipe away your tears.
This season, like many of you, I am dealing with some hurts. Some from the past, a few more recent. But this time I am challenging myself to remember the Serenity Prayer and to dwell on what it means.
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Are you dealing with a hurt this holiday season?
Have you done so in the past?
How have you/will you deal with it this year?
What promises does God make us about going through times of trial?
Father’s Day is one of my favorite days. I love my dad and like to be able to celebrate – even if it’s just hanging out of the back deck, a cookout, or dessert. It’s a simple thing, but so important! My dad is a great example of the way a father loves his children, and I am so blessed to have been given a great dad. It reminds me constantly of the way our heavenly Father takes care of and loves us.
I’d like to celebrate our Heavenly Father tomorrow -it’s Father’s Day, and appropriate to remember all that He’s done for us. Tonight I’m going to visit my dad with dessert, and tomorrow my husband and I are spending the day with my father-in-law in Cooperstown. And through it all I with thank God for the blessings He’s bestowed! It’s going to be a great weekend!
In what ways do you celebrate your dad and your Heavenly father?
I’d love for you to share…
Podcast: Play in new window
Jolene and Elizabeth discuss Easter and a few hot topics in the news, including a British initiative to give prophylactics to 12-year-old boys.
A random set of events occurred recently that brought me to church last night for a Tenebrae service. About a month ago, I was visiting a friend when her sister stopped by. They briefly discussed a situation at church and the need for an oboe player for a church service on Good Friday. I brought up that I knew a good oboe player from
college, high school, elementary school… and that was that. About two weeks ago, my friend called me up and asked about this oboe-playing friend. Apparently their oboe player couldn’t make it, and they were now in dire need…
Through the wonders of Facebook I was able to get in touch with a girl I hadn’t seen since college 6 years ago. (Wow, has it really been that long?) The connection was made and things worked out.
Ok, rewind. I grew up going to liturgical church, and never once went to a Good Friday service. In high school I started going to a Baptist church, and the formality of the services was gone. This actually fit more with my preference for worship…traditional formulaic services were no longer a part of my repertoire. So, I’ve never experienced a Tenebrae service, let alone even heard of one.
So I was curious, and drawn by the fact that I’d get to see a friend I hadn’t encountered in quite some time. And my friend had invited me. So here I was seated in a tiny Anglican church ready to experience something new. And I was quite content.
Tenebrae is a prayer service. It incorporates music, scripture, candles, and prayer to bring to mind Christ’s last days before the cross. Readings from the Gospels are chosen to highlight events leading up to Golgotha. Each reading brings you closer to that point, and as it does so, you seem to be aware of just how heartrending Jesus’ path was. I was struck emotionally as I listened to each passage. And at the end of each passage, a lighted candle was extinguished leaving you in complete darkness and silence at the end of the service…
I really appreciated this experience. I felt connected to the scriptures, and despite the seriousness of the focus, I felt at peace. The words of Jesus, resonated through me as the final words were spoken, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” God forsook his only son for me.
He forsook His son on the cross, to complete and utter brutality, for you.
Yet even in this sadness, we have hope. We can have peace, because on the third day He rose again, conquering sin and death, and providing us a way to the Father and everlasting life. Let us all celebrate Easter this year, remembering that God gave up his most beloved for us, and that Jesus has risen and we can be free.
Rejoice, and be glad!
So sorry I have neglected posting our podcasts! They are not yet available in the feed, but I wanted to make them accessible to our blog readers. They’ll be up on iTunes soon!
Jolene and Elizabeth discuss some gift giving dilemmas and other holiday happenings.
(Behind a cut because it autoplays) Read the rest of this entry »
Ladies, this year has been amazing. I thank God for the great things he is doing here at GodlyGals. I am so inspired and touched by the young women I have encountered through this ministry. I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas.
Growing up in a non-Christian home, my view of Christmas was always slightly skewed. Deep inside though, I knew that there was something more; something more significant and holy about this special day. I encourage you all to take in this holiday. Listen to the words of the songs we sing, read the Christmas Story (the original one from the Bible), and think on the awesome gift God has given us.
Understand that this holiday is more than just lights, shopping, parties, and cookies. It’s really about the incomprehensible Love God has for us – so much that he’d send His son to Earth to be our savior. Please remember this above all else this Christmas.
May you and yours be blessed.