Christ's Love and the Blessing of Holy Saturday

Saturday in Holy Week – in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, it seems like just a placeholder. Why then does the Church call it Holy?

On the Friday we call Good, our Lord laid down his life for us; went to the Cross in love, and there took on all the weight of the world’s sin, and death too, all for us. He died. His heart was pierced by the centurion’s spear, and blood and water poured out. His lifeless body was taken down, covered in blood and sweat, cradled in his mother’s arms, and then, hastily, wrapped up and placed in the tomb.

And there in the tomb he lay.

Jesus had done his work on the Cross – redeeming the world that God had made and called good, but that we had broken; calling all humanity to him, his arms outstretched on the Cross to draw all to himself. In six days, God made all of creation; on the seventh day He rested. And the Son, having done his work on the Cross, rested too.

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Shadow and Light: Thoughts on Route to Easter

Five long weeks of Lent, and yet one more, as we move through Holy Week toward the events of Easter. Why observe Lent? And why so long, when it seems so very long, these five weeks and more of a bare, unadorned church, of the disciplines of self-denial and self-examination?

Lent is indeed too long – too long for me to go on my own strength and resources. It is long enough for me to feel the initial enthusiasm of self-discipline, and past it, the weakness of failure. Lent is long enough for me to see my own weakness. Long enough to say, What’s the point? Why keep struggling on?

Lent cuts through our too-quick assurances of peace and joy; forces us to recognize that the pain of the world, and our own pain, cannot be salved by a cheery Bible verse or a hearty exhortation to rejoice.

Now What?

Good Friday and Easter combine to create an emotional roller coaster of faith packed into a single weekend. Reflection upon Good Friday can bring darkness, conviction, grief, introspection, gratitude, and worship. And reflection upon Easter can bring wonder, fear, faith, hope, exhilaration, trembling, and deep joy. These days are two sides of a single coin of faith, one rooted in belief in a God who holds power over sin and death, for our sake and His glory.

But the depths and heights of these emotions cannot be sustained over life’s journey; there are plains among the valleys and peaks. This is why we remember these things regularly in communion, preaching, and days of remembrance. So we may find ourselves wondering how we should continue in Christian living following a weekend of such magnitude.

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Holy Week Playlist

I don’t really listen to contemporary Christian music, but I LOVE hymns and older Christian spirituals. And during Lent and especially during Holy Week, I’ve been retuning to these sacred songs–some old, some new–that speak of Christ’s passion and our hope. I’ve compiled a playlist of some of my favorites this year, most of which can be purchased on iTunes.

They are songs that are getting a lot of play during this Holy Week for me, and I highly recommend them:

1)    “In the Garden,” Johnny Cash
2)    “Hard Times,” Bifrost Arts feat. David Bazan

Emptiness is Abundance

“The most expressive form of art today in connection with religion might be sacred emptiness; an emptiness which does not pretend to have at its disposal symbols which it actually does not have. In all realms of life today we must have some emptiness. … On the basis of a preliminary sacred emptiness, something may develop.”

-Paul Tillich

I believe in the desert. I go there perennially, to remind myself how much I believe. Last weekend, I went out to Joshua Tree, which is a desert National Park about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. It’s a vast, empty, preserved land of rocks, cactus, desert flowers, and lizards. And it’s in my backyard—just an hour away from one of the most hectic, crowded, chaotic cities in the world.

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