Sunday’s coming!

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Resurrection day! He is risen!!

But this resurrection morning, I felt heavy. As a family we celebrate with a Seder meal on Thursday evening and all of my children and grandchildren try to be here. And this year was amazing, But now they were all gone, the house was quiet and I felt lonely. But why? Surely this is not what I should be feeling? Isn’t this the glorious victory, the climax of the story we had just celebrated on Thursday?

There, I’ve admitted it. I am ashamed to say it, but yes, as my mama used to say, I was down in the mouth.

As I sat with my first cup of coffee, a blog I usually read popped up. “Mmm, he doesn’t usually write on Sunday” I mused. So I read it.

It was as if this blog, “Wisdom from a Father” (Click here to read) was directed toward my leaden heart. He discussed how we lead up to Resurrection day with fasting and a strong focus on the cross, the agony of the suffering, and how our own sin is cause for this suffering. We sometimes get ‘stuck’ on Good Friday, but whole point of the narrative, even the entire Old Testament, is Sunday Morning, Resurrection day.

As I read his post, I realized I had a choice. Yes, Jesus died for my sin, my shame, my bondage, but the greatest message is He didn’t stay dead. Yes, He paid the price, but He did much more than that. He defeated death and brought us to complete victory, resurrection of our spirit and hope for our future.

I remembered a song by the Christian artist, Carmen. “It seems like Friday night, dark and hopeless….. But SUNDAY’S COMING!”

Hope began to rise in my heart.

Later at church, our pastor, John, read the story of The Resurrection what really hit me was the power of the resurrection. When Jesus rose from the dead, the entire earth shook with resurrection power. Not just the portion around Jerusalem. The earth shook in Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia. And the Bible says, “The same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you!”

My heart exploded in hope! He Is Risen! The heaviness gone, and joy flooded in.

Earlier it seemed like Friday night, but Sunday’s coming!

I want to leave you with this sweet story sent to me by my friend, Brenda Malone.

There was a little boy named Phillip who had Downs Syndrome. In Sunday School the other children really didn’t pay him much attention, because his responses and actions seemed foolish to their eight year old minds. The week before Resurrection Day their teacher gave them all an empty plastic egg. They were to spend the week looking for things to put in the egg that reminded them of resurrection life. On Resurrection day the children eagerly awaited their turn to share the treasures they had collected. One shared a seed and the teacher was pleased. Another shared a butterfly, which delighted the teacher. Then came Phillip’s turn. When Phillip opened his egg, it was empty. Some of the children laughed. “He didn’t do it right!” said the little girl with the pretty pink bow. But little Philip hung his head and whispered quietly, “I did do it right. It’s empty because Jesus’ tomb is empty. That’s why we have new life.” Suddenly, the boys and girls got very quiet. They ‘got it.’ Phillip was right. The empty tomb was exactly what Easter was all about. The empty tomb. Resurrection. Jesus didn’t stay dead; he rose up to bring us all new life.

Yes, we never forget the cross, the pain, the suffering, the death. But we must not stop on Good Friday. No matter how dark your Friday might seem, no matter the depth of your heart ache, the tomb is still empty, resurrection power is still available, and Sunday’s Coming!

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Be blessed this day with Hope, Joy and His Resurrection Power.

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The Blessing of His Presence

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From Public Domain images

We are familiar with the Aaron’s blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

When Billy Joe pastored our first small Methodist church one of my favorite portions during the Sunday morning service was the benediction. It was such a comfort to go out with this blessing ringing in my heart, surrounding me with His presence as I charged forth into the week ahead.

Many times as a harried mother of 4, Sunday was not the most restful day of the week. My husband was the pastor, so he usually left early to prepare for the day at church, which meant no help getting ready for the big day of the week. “The Sunday Morning Service.” By the time I walked into the quietness of the sanctuary I had fed hungry mouths, found missing socks, retrieved shoes from the toilet (literally!) and wiped snotty noses. Yet we proudly walked to the front row with hair combed, clean clothes and even bows in our hair.

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I sat in a pew with three wiggly bodies (one in the nursery, PTL!), critiquing my husbands sermon (Oh yes, I did! Sorry BJ), and checking the faces of the congregation to see who might have been offended that week. ‘Did I turn on the crockpot with the roast inside?’ ‘Did I turn off the coffee pot?’ I’m afraid I didn’t receive very much insight into the word. But at least I was able to sit for a while. That pretty much summed up my ‘worship at church’ during this new season of my life.

All too quickly, BJ was finished and I had missed the main point. Again.

Then came the Benediction.

“The Lord bless you and keep you.”

My spirit would leap up passed the confusion of my mind and the tiredness of my body, like a dry, thirsty entity to grab hold of those words. “The Lord Bless you and KEEP you.” Like a warm blanket, these words took on tangible meaning in my heart. The Lord Himself would keep me, surround and protect me. Protect me even from the fear and anxiety of being a young pastor’s wife. You see, BJ went to school to become a pastor, but unfortunately there was no school for a pastor’s wife, and my fabricated image of who I should be was skewed. I had expectations of myself that were unrealistic and certainly not demanded by the precious people in our church. Yet I could not see it at the time and I lived with great anxiety and fear of being found out that I was NOT who they thought was.

“The Lord make His face to shine upon you.”

His face. Not the faces of the needy, the offended or even the friendly faces. His face. His smile, His delight, His pleasure. To know and feel His acceptance and love, even though I felt I was the least to deserve it.

“The Lord lift up His countenance upon you.”

His Countenance. This word also means his face, but in my heart it meant more. His presence, His light. His protection. It was a though this very word meant He looked up to the rest of the world and said, “This is my daughter and I am pleased with her.” Amazing validation, which opened my heart to the clincher, the last sentence in this extraordinary blessing.

“And give you peace.”

Shalom. More than a quietness. The fullness of the word Peace. Everything brought back into the full restoration of the Father’s original intent. Nothing missing, nothing broken, all whole again. Shalom, Peace. Rest for your soul. And strength for the journey ahead.

Today, I am reminded again of those wonderful, frightful, early days in ministry. I have shifted in so many areas of my life over the years. And throughout, His blessing has never changed. It has grown richer and deeper in my heart, and still brings that warm comfort and peace to my soul.

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From Public Domain Images

My hope for you, whether you are a young believer or a seasoned prayer warrior, is that you too would remember, embrace and walk in the fullness of this blessing. Aaron’s blessing.

The Blessing of His Presence.