Arms stretched open

What does Holy Week mean to you?  Is it significant or insignificant?  When you hear the Passion, do you feel remorseful or sad?  What are your feelings when you see the crucifix Easter Sunday?

After hearing the Passion several times during the week and reading “No Greater Love”, a realization of Jesus’ endurance to accomplish all God had in store for Him hits the core of the soul.  Even during His final hours, He was still accomplishing God’s Will through teaching, fulfillment of prophecy, conversion and ministry.

The greatest realization that hit me this week as the crucifix was veiled, is what is revealed in the crucifix once it will be unveiled Easter Sunday when we celebrate the risen Jesus.  When Jesus was nailed to the cross and crucified, His arms were stretched open.  This is likely typical of crucifixion during the time period.  The significance to me that I have been meditating on that I want to share is on this cross, Jesus, in His final hours is inviting me and you to the cross.  His arms are open, waiting to embrace us with the love that He demonstrated for us during His crucifixion.  After venerating the cross, knowing that a cross similar to this cross, my Lord suffered for me and you, I was reminded of all the sins that I nailed to His cross.  Yet His arms are wide open, inviting me to forgiveness, to repent and to receive Him completely.

There are times in my life and perhaps yours, when life hits and I fall slowly away from God.  It starts with my time.  Something comes up when I planned to sit down and pray and I say, “I’ll get to it later.”  Something else comes up and before I know it a lot of these SOMETHING ELSE pops up and I haven’t spent a minute in prayer.  Other things continue to creep in filling my day and eventually I begin to feel lost and less connected to God.

I think Holy Week helps put this in perspective.  It highlights my relationship with God, where it has been, when it has been fruitful and when it has been barren.  I think this is the compass that helps me to look up and see Jesus’ arms wide open inviting me to be embraced by Him, to a deeper, loving relationship with Him.

I don’t know your story, but I do believe that everyone has a story.  Some of you may have fallen away from the Church, away from God completely.  You may have been seriously wounded and felt abandoned by God.  You may have hurt someone deeply yourself and feel remorseful but unable to move forward towards forgiveness.  You may have sought answers or asked for prayers that went unanswered.  Or you may have lost a loved one and felt God abandoned them so why should you continue in a relationship with Him.  Whatever your story, know that God did send His only son, fully human and fully divine, to walk among His people, to suffer and die for them.  Them – being YOU and ME.  His son was nailed to a cross, displayed for all to see with His arms stretched open.  No matter your circumstance, He is inviting you to come to Him, to let Him embrace you, to pour out His mercy, love and compassion and help you carry your crosses.

Have a very Blessed EASTER.

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Empty Tomb

But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.  And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.  And they said to her “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?”  John 20:11-15

Have you ever woke up and felt empty and lost?  You weren’t certain what was missing but you knew something was.  You went about your business, never stopping to pray.  You glanced down and saw your Bible on the night stand and paid it no mind.  You went to church but really weren’t present.  Your mind was somewhere else.

When I read this passage in John, when Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty and begins to weep.  I reflect on my own heart, on the times that my heart felt empty like the tomb, when I have felt I had everything under control.  I didn’t need to pray, didn’t need to read the Bible.  I knew what I needed and what was best.  I went about my day with no thought of Jesus.

Today, like Mary Magdalene when she couldn’t find Jesus in the tomb, I weep for that person in me that had no relationship with Jesus, that was empty and lonely deep within.  I was blinded and couldn’t feel Jesus’ presence until one day, He called my name and opened my mind and my heart.  I couldn’t imagine my life today without Him, without prayer, without my church, and the Word of God.

Sometimes it takes our struggles in life to drop us to our knees and reach to the Heavens for help.  Lucky for us, Jesus is right there waiting for us to call to Him, just as He was right there when Mary Magdalene thought His body had been taken away.  The truth of His resurrection, had not sunk in yet until He called her name.  It was then that her eyes were opened and she recognized Him.  Sometimes that truth hasn’t sunk into our minds either and we struggle with it, recognizing His presence is with us always.  All we have to do is open our eyes, mind and heart and He reveals Himself to us – lightening our burdens and filling us with love.

Have you wept lately wondering where Jesus is?  Have you felt like He was not present when you needed Him?  Have you felt that he was gone, as if your heart felt like the empty tomb that was discovered Easter morning?   He is calling your name.  Will you recognize Him?

 

 

Is Love Always Happy?

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What is love?  Is it always happy or is it sometimes sad?  Yesterday, I witnessed several acts of love.  I heard the passion of our Lord and witnessed a cross about the size of the “True Cross” process into our church and then I watched hundreds of people, in reverence of our Lord and His love for us, kneel down to kiss this cross.  This was a demonstration of love from our community to our Lord for His sacrifice and His sacrifice was an act of His love for us.  It is a great example of mutual sacrifice of oneself for another.

So I think the answer is that love is not always happy.  Many years ago, I heard this very thing at a counselling session with my ex-husband.  My ex proceeded to tell the counsellor that God is love and He did not want us to not be happy.  The counsellor looked at him and said “Jesus died on the cross that was love, but it wasn’t happy”.  You see that very act is a model for us that love is not about our happiness but about what we do for others, about our actions.  That is what Jesus demonstrated for us when He died for us.  He showed us what love is, sacrificing oneself for another.  This is the love we should each practice daily with everyone we encounter, especially our family.

Yesterday, I came across a note my daughter wrote several years ago.  She called it “Mom Love”.  In her note she pronounced how much she loved me.  She also mentions the ways that I show love to her by helping her through difficult times and encouraging her.  It’s the small acts of kindness that we show one another that reveals our love to one another.  It’s not our own feelings of happiness but how we nurture another and sacrifice our own needs for another.  So as you reflect on the crucifixion today, the day before the resurrection, think about the act of love Jesus modeled for us by sacrificing Himself and how you can make sacrifices in your life to love others, not just your family and friends but the stranger next to you.