All posts in Easter/Lent

Not Ready For Easter? You’re In Good Company

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I woke up in the middle of the night last night in a panic.  I dreamed it was Easter morning, and I had forgotten to fill the Easter baskets and hide the eggs.  I almost got out of bed until I realized I had another day.  So I took a deep breath and went back to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, it dawned on me.

I’m not ready for Easter.

Yet in the midst of my panic attack, I heard another voice.  A voice that is much calmer.  A voice that assures me that Easter is not about me, it’s about something much bigger.  Something miraculous that doesn’t depend on my efforts to fill Easter baskets or hide eggs.

Here’s what the voice said:

Keep it simple this year.

I know, this isn’t very profound.  But it hit me hard.  Probably because life is more complicated than it needs to be right now.  Granted, I no longer need to deal with Easter Bunny Drama (I never really liked that sneaky Easter Bunny anyway).  Yet I still feel the pressure to make Easter a big production – to get distracted from the real meaning of the death and resurrection of my Lord.

Truth be told, I wasn’t even ready for Lent this year.  The season has passed so quickly.  In an effort to “keep it simple” this week, I’ve been reading about the last week of Jesus’ life.  Every evening, we sit in the living room and read about the events of the day.  One thing I’m struck by (with some comfort) is this:  the disciples weren’t ready either.  They didn’t get it.  They didn’t prepare for Easter let alone fathom the events to come.  But this didn’t stop Jesus.

I may not be ready for Easter, but maybe that’s a good thing.  It forces me to “keep it simple” – to leave room for Jesus to surprise me instead of getting distracted by my own efforts and plans.  To even embrace an Easter miracle.

How will you keep Easter simple this year?   Are you ready for the unexpected?

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.  (Luke 18: 31-34)

 

 

Would I Recognize Jesus?

Was Jesus just a good moral teacher, or is he really the Son of God?  Over 2000 years after his death, there is still debate about the true identity of Jesus.

Even in his own time, there was little consensus.

Surely, his own family recognized his true divinity, right?

Not exactly. Jesus’ family even questioned his sanity.

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” – Mark 3: 21

But surely, the religious leaders recognized his spiritual authority, right?

Hardly. Rather than concluding he was crazy, they declared he was downright evil.

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” – Mark 3:22

No, it wasn’t the religious elite that recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Instead, it was the unexpected – the uneducated, the fisherman, and even the prostitutes.  An unlikely group of followers.

I like to think of myself as educated. Even enlightened! Yet I wonder if I would have recognized Jesus 2000 years ago. If Jesus had asked me– as he asked Peter – who do you say that I am?  What would I say?

Many days, Jesus is right in my midst, but I still don’t recognize him.   There are too many distractions blinding me.  Work. Home. Errands. Relationships. Duties.  In the midst of it all, I even worry that I’ve lost my spiritual sight. 

But today, on Maundy Thursday, I’m going to try hard to see him.  I’m going to look.  I’m going to listen.  I’m going to think about the bread and the wine and ask God to open my eyes.

I want my heart to burn. 

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When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began  to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.  They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us….?”  Luke 24: 30-32

Let’s Get Ready For Holy Week!

The rest of this week, I plan to blog about Jesus. For those of you who read the blog and don’t share my faith, I’ll likely get back to more light-hearted rants next week. But this week – the final week of Jesus’ life on earth — I just can’t help myself.

This week, it’s all about Jesus.

I’m part of a church that really knows how to celebrate Easter. We fast during Lent, put on passion plays, light candles, and roll out the red carpet on Easter Sunday. My kids are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. Sure, they love the candy and Easter eggs, but they know that Easter is about something much more important — an eternal sacrifice and a risen Lord. (Besides, my girls are pretty freaked out by the Easter Bunny – just like Tooth Ferry Terror.)

For me, it’s not really about the ritual of Easter. It never has been. It’s a celebration of a person. It’s about mourning the loss of your best friend, only to find out that he’s not only alive – he’s right here in your midst.

And he laid his life down for you so you can be by his side for all eternity.

This week is the most important week in Christian history. Yesterday, we celebrated Palm Sunday. Jesus leaves Bethany (where he has just raised Lazarus from the dead), stops in a little village to pick up a donkey that had never been riden before, and enters Jerusalem.   This is the only time Jesus rides on an animal during his public ministry.  Up until now, he walked everywhere (pretty interesting, huh?).

He must be up to something.

The road from Bethany to Jerusalem is only about two miles, yet this final week of Jesus’ life takes up more space than all the other events of the four New Testament gospels (combined). The plot thickens, Jesus enters Jerusalem to face his accusers, and ultimately faces death.

Will you join me on the journey?

On In Around button

Confessions Of A Rule Breaker

I’ve never been very good at following rules. After all, rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?

Fortunately, I serve a very patient and gracious God.  Which is why I really didn’t have a guilt trip over the fact that I broke my “no-coffee” rule during Lent.  That’s right.  After I had the nerve to post my coffee fast on the blog (with my friends and family cheering me on), I slipped up during the 40 days of Lent.  And I didn’t even feel guilty about it!

It was one of those weak moments.  It was also premeditated.  I had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to drive out of town, and I told myself the night before, I am going to have a cup of coffee tomorrow.  Sure, I could have prayed for strength.  I could have driven right by the Starbucks.  But I didn’t.  Instead, I thanked God for that cup of coffee as I savored each sip.

I don’t think a cup of coffee has ever tasted better.  I felt like King David eating the consecrated bread from the temple.  When the Pharisees scolded Jesus’ disciples for picking wheat on the Sabbath, Jesus made it clear that he was more interested in our inward character than our outward appearances.  Sure, we can appear to be “holy” if we’re going through the motions and acting “religious” but Jesus explained that even King David justifiably broke the rules:

Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.

Then he said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.  – Mark 2: 25-28

In other words, the rules are made for my benefit, not God’s.  I don’t think God really cares if I broke my made-up rule of no coffee during Lent.  Yes, it was an exercise in discipline for my benefit, not his.  I do think God cares about the state of my heart, and I’m more than grateful that he has brought me into a relationship with him through his risen Son.

Besides, I could never follow all the rules.  Thank God I don’t have to!

(Remember, for all you coffee lovers out there, we’ll have a Starbucks gift-card prize on Friday’s blog – details to follow!)

Easter Bunny Drama

I had completely underestimated the Easter Bunny.  He really isn’t that scary, is he (or she)? Isn’t he supposed to be furry and nice?  With all that candy and fun, who would have thought the Easter Bunny would rain terror in the hearts of my girls?

A couple of weeks ago, Anna mentioned to me that she thought the Easter Bunny was pretty creepy. I brushed it off, thinking she would get over it.  I almost came out and told her, Mom is the Easter Bunny, but in a moment of weakness, I decided to hold out.  After all, this is probably the last year before she figures it out on her own.  And I didn’t want her to ruin it for Abby.

The night before Easter, the tension started to build.  At 6:00 p.m. Abby announced that she saw the Easter Bunny in our dining room.  Then, Anna found a plastic egg under a chair in our living room – certainly, it didn’t get there by itself!  The Easter Bunny was already sneaking around, and it wasn’t even night time.

Anna and Abby were in tears, and they begged me to let them go to bed right away.  I took them up around 7:30 p.m. and they started in with the questions.  Is the Easter Bunny already in our house?  Will he come to our room?  What if Nick doesn’t get in bed soon – will he ruin our chance to get candy?  How big is the Easter Bunny?  Does he drive a car?

In response, I just said, “I don’t know, what do you think?”  As much as I love the magic and games, I really try not to lie to my children any more than I have to (especially not on major Christian holidays).  They pleaded with me to sleep with them, and to calm them down I finally convinced them I would guard their bedroom door, just to make sure the Easter Bunny didn’t barge in.

Anna and Abby barely made it through the night.  Between playing Easter Bunny and checking on them in between, I was completely exhausted from all the drama.

As much as I love Easter, I’m glad Easter Bunny drama is over – at least for another year.  I’ll have to admit, there’s something about a sneaky, overgrown, human-like bunny that just isn’t right.