For the next week, I will (hopefully) be daily posting scripture readings, and book or quote excerpts leading up to Easter, on Sunday morning. This time of year is one that resonates deeply in my heart, but part of the journey to Easter morning, with the experience of joy celebrating the risen Christ, is walking through Holy Week, which can often be shadowed by darkness. Jesus Christ endured the cross, and went to the depths of Hell, the rose again in order to save us.
We cannot fully worship the risen Savior until we understand the depth of our humanity and sin. I look forward to the joy of Sunday morning, and worshipping in freedom. I hope these next few days will bring light to your eyes, and turn hearts to Christ, and understanding more his immense love for us.
Ephesians 2:13-16. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
From A Letter of Consolation, by Henri J.M. Nouwen: “During this Holy Week we are confronted with death more than during any other season of the liturgical year. We are called to mediate not just on death in general or on our own death in particular, but on the death of Jesus Christ who is God and Man. We are challenged to look at Him dying on a cross and to find there the meaning of our own life and death. What strikes me most in all that is read and said during these days is that Jesus of Nazareth did not die for himself, but for us, and that in following Him we too are called to make our death a death for others.
What makes you and me Christians is not only our belief that He who was without sin died for our sake on the cross and thus opened for us the way to His heavenly Father, but also that through His death our death is transformed from a totally absurd end of all that gives life its meaning into an event that liberates us and those whom we love.
From In Search of the Beyond by Carlo Coretto: “Jesus became a sacrament for me, the cause of my salvation, he brought my time in hell to an end, and put a stop to my inner disintegration. He washed me patiently in the waters of baptism, he filled me with the exhilarating joy of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, he nourished me with the bread of his word. Above all, he forgave me, he forgot everything, he did not even wish me to remember my past myself.
When, through my tears, I began to tell him something of the years during which I betrayed him, he lovingly placed his hand over my mouth in order to silence me. His one concern was that I should muster courage enough to pick myself up again, to try and carry on walking in spite of my weakness, and to believe in his love in spite of my fears. But there was one thing he did, the value of which cannot be measured, something truly unbelievable, something only God could do.
While I continued to have doubts about my own salvation, to tell him that my sins could not be forgiven, and that justice, too, had its rights, he appeared on the Cross before me one Friday towards midday.
I was at its foot, and found myself bathed with the blood which flowed from the gaping holes made in his flesh by the nails. He remained there for three hours until he expired.
I realized that he had died in order that I might stop turning to him with questions about justice, and believe instead, deep within myself, that the scales had come down overflowing on the side of love, and that even though all….through unbelief or madness, had offended him, he had conquered forever, and drawn all things everlastingly to himself.”
For I hear the whispering of many–
terror on every side!–
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hands of my enemies
and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
O LORD, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.