Friday, April 22, 2011
Recently, I was thinking about the meaning of communion and the symbolism of His body broken for me, and His blood poured out for me, and unexpectedly I had an upwelling of love for our Lord Jesus and His sacrifice for us. It was wonderful for affections for Him to break through the mundane superficiality of my life and the experience was received as a gift. I knew there was nothing in me that had changed. He had opened my heart and I was grateful. Heading into Holy Week and Easter weekend I was hoping that by my own observance of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and then the joyful Resurrection Sunday that I could somehow recapture those feelings I had a few weeks ago, and also, somehow think deeply and dig deeply into my heart to get the whole picture of what He has done for us, for me. Instead–I've been sleep deprived, busy, irritable and distracted and I'm flying up to Easter with only surface attention to the passing days. How like God to give me a gift when it is obviously not of my own work and then to let me see what happens when I try to "make" my own experience!
When I was in the middle of my deeper affections a few weeks ago, I found myself reading through the Passion Week scriptures and really noticing the experience of the women who were closest to Jesus. Oh, what love! What darkness they experienced to the core of their being! And finally, what joy! They followed Him to the cross; they watched the horror unfold; they clung together; they watched their last hope fade; they watched Him suffer on the cross; they stayed until He died from crucifixion; they watched as His death was confirmed with a spear thrust to the side; they stayed to see Him taken down; they followed to see Him laid in the tomb; they left to prepare spices and ointment as darkness fell; they observed the Sabbath and left the tomb alone for agonizing hours as He lay alone, His body unprepared; they came again to anoint His body as soon as they could possibly call it dawn; they arrived to find an empty tomb; they were greatly distressed; they received the good news and explanation of the resurrection from angels; one stayed and heard the Lord Himself speak her name; they returned to the disciples to share the news of the angels and with the report of seeing Him alive... only to be received as women speaking idle talk.
But–their story was confirmed–He appeared again, and again, and again.
They loved, they feared, they followed, they watched, they were devastated, they were confused, they grieved, they cared, they waited, they went to care for his body–all dark, dark days. I try to imagine the darkness of their grief, but it is well beyond my experience. Then they were the first to hear the good news from angels, to find the empty tomb on the third day . . . just as He promised. Mary, lingering and thinking that her grief had been compounded by enemies stealing her Lord's body, is instead called by name by the resurrected Jesus. Her joy is well beyond what I can imagine.
Thinking through my impossible plan to try to feel my way through the weekend really experiencing the dark leading up to Easter, and then the joy–I find that I'm never able to get to that place of grief because the joy and light keep poking in. I'm too tired to concentrate on keeping them out and feel the darkness. I know He is alive! I can't forget the Good News because it is the strength and joy of my life. I don't feel separated from my Lord during Good Friday. I am, at times, overwhelmed with what He has done to atone for sin, once for all. But death could not keep Him in the grave. His sacrifice is perfect and He conquered death for Love and His Glory. At the same time He is here with me on my superficial, tired days, leading me and carrying me and taking me where I need to be step-by-step and giving me the gifts of feeling His presence and feeling deep affection for Him when it is best for me.
Let us remember His suffering. Let us believe in Him and receive His salvation. Let us be transformed into His bride. And if in our weakness, poor affections and pale imagination we can't grieve properly on this Good Friday for our Lord's dark day or for our sins, let us rejoice that we live on this side of Easter and that what He has accomplished is not dependent on what we do at all.
Yes, let us rejoice this Easter and every day, for the Lord is Risen, Indeed!
ps. I wrote this on Good Friday 2010, but it reflects so much of my feelings this year as well, I decided to repost. We are weak . . . Rejoice!