Easter reflection

Eight years ago, we went on a tour of the Holy Land. There we saw the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Garden Tomb, both of which purport to be the spot of Christ’s tomb. One of the folks on the trip, who had been years before, said he’d be interested to hear the following Easter which location popped into our minds when we heard verses read about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

When Easter came, one image clearly filled my mind–the Garden Tomb. And it has been the consistent image for me when I hear or read verses about the Easter story. At first, I wondered why. That site was no more authentic looking than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Both location were very grand and touristy–though in very different ways–and not at all what the place would have looked like in Jesus’ time. But the Garden Tomb had another significance for me that ties it to the Easter story.

Earlier in the day that we visited that site, I’d said something that hurt the feelings of one of our group leaders. I had spoken carelessly, he had taken what I said the wrong way, and he reacted angrily. I was embarrassed and I felt awful for hurting him. My heart was very heavy as our bus wound through the tight and crowded streets of Jerusalem and we made our way into the Garden Tomb. We looked in the tomb, read a Bible passage, and then we were to have communion. Before we did so, though, the person I’d offended pulled me aside. He apologized for getting so angry, I apologized for saying something without thinking and hurting him, and we hugged.

What stands out for me at the Garden Tomb was the opportunity, in a small but powerful way, to live into forgiveness and reconciliation. The other traveler could have remained angry. I could have remained in my state of feeling guilty. We could have given each other a wide berth, and by the end of the trip, maybe even have taken to avoiding each other as our feelings festered. But instead, we cleared the air, and relationship was restored.

Through Christ’s death on the cross and his glorious resurrection 3 days later, we can be reconciled to God. And more than that, as those saved by Christ’s death and resurrection, we are to be agents of reconciliation, so it says in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

This Easter Sunday, as we thank God for our new life and reconciliation in Christ, let us also remember that, as the reconciled, we are to work to bring reconciliation and restoration to the world.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Snow? For Holy Week?

Here we are, a few weeks into spring, two days after Palm Sunday, and in Pittsburgh, snow is falling. Big, white, fluffy flakes blowing in the wind, landing on the budding trees, sprouting plants, and a few early flowering bushes.

Snow… during Holy Week. Ridiculous, right? That was my initial thought until I realized that, actually, it might just be the perfect time for snow.

Psalm 51:7 says, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” And in Isaiah 1:18, the Lord promises, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow…”

Isn’t that what Holy Week is all about? Christ died for our sins, so we could be clean. Through Him, we can be as white as the snow. Praise God!

Blog post #1 – The blessing of everyday and ordinary

A couple days ago, I set up this blog page, and I’ve been struggling with what to write about for my very first post. I wanted it to be incredibly insightful, beautifully written, and universally meaningful—the perfect “glimpse of grace and glory in the little everyday moments of life,” as the blog’s subtitle states. But I’ve been too busy to stop and notice grace or glory… or anything else, frankly.

And then, today, in a suburb of Pittsburgh, 22 people—mostly students—were stabbed in an act of school violence. I couldn’t help but notice that. Friends in other cities contacted me to make sure it wasn’t our school, that my boys were OK. Later, I learned of children hurt, and one killed, in Florida when a car slammed into their daycare center. I read these news stories with great sadness, considering just how quickly an ordinary, everyday morning or afternoon turned into a scene of danger, fear, and confusion.

My intention for this blog was to write down ponderings about the world around me. A way to acknowledge those regular, everyday moments that are somehow elevated to memorable or remarkable. I envisioned those ponderings would be primarily happy thoughts about unexpected joys, heart-warming interactions with people, and pleasant encounters with nature (as evidenced in banner photo of pretty moth on flower).

What I am struck by tonight, however, is how blessed and precious “everyday” and “ordinary” can be. I’m willing to bet that the families who were involved in today’s tragic events would gladly exchange these memorable and remarkable moments for the mundane or ordinary.

I’m still going to look for the beauty, joy, and grace that ordinary, everyday moments often carry. But perhaps tonight’s pondering serves as a reminder that ordinary—in and of itself—can be a blessing and ought not to be taken for granted.