Monday, March 29, 2010

Highs and Lows

I am recovering from highs and lows. In just one week, I have joined others in prayers for a friend having a liver transplant; two friends with prostate issues; a young man and young woman both diagnosed with dreaded diseases; a friend’s mother in her last days; and of course my own lingering grief issues. But I have also celebrated with friends getting married, shopped with a special bride-to-be, lunched with a dear mother-to-be, joined my church family in serving the community, shot a pretty decent first round of golf for the season, and rejoiced at the daffodils blooms and lettuces and peas bursting into growth with the warming temperatures. Winter is past. New life is coming.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and the message was one of celebration and sorrow. The procession and music was all praise and worship. The sanctuary was beautifully adorned with palm branches. Thinking I would sit in church and find restoration after a rocky week only led me further to the paradox of the cross. I left with the full knowledge of this Holy Week and the steps that would lead to death on a cross. Jesus set the example. We must go there too – to the cross, that is. In our faith, we are instructed to put everything – all of our celebration and all of our sorrow – at the foot of the cross, giving it all to the One who set the example. Embracing the cross is easier when we are not carrying around all of our pride, sorrow, and shame. It is just hard to let it go. We cling desperately to our things, our dreams, and our expectations.

Two years ago, I wrote, “If we look closely, we all find ourselves somewhere between celebration and sorrow, light and dark, life and death. The big moments of life – birth, death, marriage, anniversaries, achievements – tragedies – all seem to mark the years, but the day-to-day is where our faith steps in and decides if we will face each day with celebration or sorrow.”

The day after Palm Sunday, Jesus began to face His sorrows. It was anything but celebratory. The turning of the water into wine at the wedding was just a memory. Things were now serious and His ministry was about to be completed. He charged forward – resolutely, rebuking the people in the temple, correcting His mounting accusers, never turning away from the growing momentum of impending sorrow. That was the message from the Palm Sunday sermon – we must keep the faith as we walk the difficult roads. We must get to know Jesus and live the way He lived – in the good times and the bad, as we celebrate or as we face death – He shows us the way for all of life and wants to be our best friend. We can face the difficult times when our eyes are “fixed”on Jesus. Why is it then that we just don’t want to know Him very well? Why is it that we don’t spend too much time with Him?

The good news is that sorrow for the believer in Christ always leads to celebration. Death does not have a victory. In fact, death itself will be destroyed. Imagine that! God’s ability to restore life is beyond understanding. I just have to trust it and wait for it. It’s like spring in the garden. I have to wait for the new buds and the sprouting of seeds. I watch closely every day. New life. I love it.

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