Good Friday

Matthew 27

Matthew 27:

33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Why I Couldn’t Sleep ~ Part 2

Yesterday, I shared with you what happened at our church last Sunday evening.  A friend and member of the praise team had asked the question:

What does it look like to be a Christian?

A ten minute segment stretched into 50 minutes and nobody cared that it did.  It was one of those moments that a person never forgets.

I went to bed that night and was soon asleep.  And then I woke with the question in my mind.  Sleep did not return.  I looked at the digital clock: 2:22 AM.  Head back on pillow I tried to sleep.  Sleep would not cooperate.  It was now 2:47.  I got up, put on my glasses and came into the office.  The scene outside my window invited a long look.  Then I began to compose some thoughts.

The Question

I stood the midnight watch atop the rampart
Sleep who wrapped me in her arms had fled
And loving mercy withheld slumber

The year was not yet three weeks old
In the frosty silence above the sleeping world
The hunter made his nightly circuit of the sky

The gibbous moon veiled the scene in ghostly light
And that weak light diminished the stars’ shine
Though its glory is but a poor reflection of the greater

A friend had shared from sincere heart
The thought with which he wrestled
The burning question in his mind

What does it look like to be a Christian
How do you know, how can you spot
That which is real from what is not

As I pondered on the thought and on my friend
My thoughts were bent toward persistent grace
And along side is untiring love

The fruit is borne on the inside
Outwardly, the form and fashion vary
Each of us a Work in Progress

What would your answer have been?

Why I Couldn’t Sleep ~ Part 1

Sunday evening, our church held a special worship service.  Once a month we set aside our usual schedule and have an evening of mostly praise music.  Lately praise-team members have taken 5 to 10 minutes to share their personal faith journeys.  Last Sunday was different.

You would have noticed that something was different when you drove into the parking lot.  There were only a few vehicles sitting out in the cold.  Inside the 6-member praise team and their 5 families outnumbered the rest of us.  A singing group’s concert had drawn several to a nearby community.  Four additional families sat in the congregation.  It would be an intimate group.

The live music was great!  Guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and singers were our guides.  And then the time came for a team member to share.  That member asked questions, such as:  Have you ever felt betrayed?  Then followed a story of a pastor who left the church and took most of the congregation with him to form another.  Next came a pastor who lost his faith and left the church — not to go to another but left it in his past.

Then came the big question:  What does it look like to be a Christian?

I expected to hear some trite answers.  I did not.  A different spirit was at work within the quiet intimacy of that setting.  Most of the adults shared from their hearts their experience and observations.  Ten minutes turned into 50 and no one seemed to notice.

The praise group led us in a couple of songs and then we went home.  Night over, right?  Wrong!

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Briana’s Baccalaureate Service

Sunday evening was the Baccalaureate Service for East Kentwood High School.  The service was held at Cornerstone Church where Briana and her parents attend.  Sylvia and I met them at their home and we all went to the church together.

I fully expected the kind of service that Sylvia and I had when we graduated.  There was some special music and local clergymen were in charge of the rest for prayers and sermon, etc.  That is not what we saw.  The seniors (High School seniors that is) were in charge and they did everything.  It was one of the most beautiful, moving and well done services I’ve ever attended.

There was special music led by the praise band from the Cornerstone youth group and others.  They young musicians did their part to set the right tone for the evening.

There were words of welcome and then an interpretive dance to Only Hope.  A couple of the seniors sang solos.  There were four different speakers sharing their thoughts, words of encouragement to each other and personal testimonies.

There was a wordless drama in which the girl on the far right is controlled by this group of demons that lead her into substance abuse and an attempted suicide  (issues that young folks face these days).  Things go from bad to worse for our young protagonist.

Then Jesus comes, dispels the demons and frees her from the ropes that bound her.  It was very powerful and very well done.

Becca and Liz sang Temporary Home.  These two gals are not imposing but their voices are powerful.  Seldom will you hear someone of that age that can project a full clear voice the way these two do.  And their harmony is wonderful.  Their song brought tears to my eyes.

Brianas friend, Riane, was the final speaker then we sang a song and were dismissed.  As I said before it was a beautiful, moving and well done service.

Afterward we went to Bryant and Barbara’s house where we had an extended visit and ate some apple pie that Briana had baked.  Yummy!

Special thanks to Sylvia and Barbara for the photos.  Sylvia took the first two and Barbara the second pair.  I wish you could have been there with us.

Saturday Song ~ New Again

Wednesday morning, my friend, Paul Decess passed away after an extended illness. His bed had been placed in the room of their small house that faces the lake on which they’ve lived. Plenty of light, fresh air and the sounds of activity on the lake he loved were there for him. He and his wife have lived in that place since his retirement some years ago.

Paul drafting plans for the Ebenezer Center.

By profession, Paul was an engineer. He drew the plans for our church’s community center and was the head trustee as we went through the building project. He had a keen mind and willing hands. So many other things he did, I cannot tell them all. He would cut onions for the annual chili dinner, because they didn’t make him cry. We who are his friends will miss him greatly. Forgive us if we cry.

My song for today is one that I almost posted on the Saturday before Easter. While our life goes on, for Paul all things are new again. He knows no more suffering, and he knows no more pain.

Whatever happens, whatever you see, He makes all things new again.

Will You Pray for Alexa?

Alexa hugs her friend.

Some of you may already know about Alexa and the difficulties she has been going through lately. It has been reported on her mommy’s blog Jill’s Believe It Or Not. Lately, Auntie Justine has been reporting, because momma Jill is spending her time in the hospital with Alexa.

Take a bit of time and read about this young girl and what she is going through. Then take a few more moments to say a prayer for Alexa and her family. Thanks.

Faith & Feelings

Feelings may come quickly,

Faith builds its foundation.

Feelings may question,
Faith still believes.

Feelings may waver,
Faith holds the course.

Feelings may flounder,
Faith remains firm.

Feelings may take to the wing,
Faith builds its nest in your heart.

Like a rivulet that rises when the sudden warmth of early spring melts the winter snow, feelings flow quickly and are gone.

Like an artesian well, faith’s cool refreshing waters rise from the cool deeps to sustain our life.