Monday, April 6, 2015
Both Easter services yesterday ministered to me. The early morning crowd was, as expected, a bit more populated than usual. Our pastor’s message was nothing deep, taken from that passage in the Bible where Mary, outside the empty tomb, sees Him, but doesn’t know Him until He speaks her name. Attending and seated three rows back, center-sanctuary, was a close friend diagnosed with fourth-stage cancer. At least twenty-five years younger than me, with a wife and four sons, two of them yet in school, he has already lost much of his normal muscular appearance; but, nonetheless, was able to access the altar area for prayer. Miracle? We who gathered around him certainly asked for one. Hope and faith, though, remains in that which made us all one as tears and tongues came forth out of a small group of men seeking to touch the hem of His garment…. The evening sermon became more of a sermonette, born out of worship wherein several youth, ranging in age from my seventeen year-old grandson to his twenty-something year-old basketball coach who teaches for us at the church school, all gave testimony as to Christ resurrecting them. Pointing us to those few verses in Scripture speaking of Jesus looking upon the multitude with compassion, our shepherd spoke of how one never knows everything the other fellow is holding inside him, all the feelings of knowing no self-worth, all the insecurities, defensive attitudes, and shame rooted in, not just the wounds inflicted by others along the way, but personal mistakes that each of us regret making in our stumble down the path. Without the stone being rolled away, we live in a tomb. Believers, he said, must never forget, in our humanity, to see through His eyes “the harvest that is ripe before us”, to realize there is a story within every individual we encounter that goes much deeper than an outward identity we often don’t understand…. This, for me, is the Gospel. While I openly admit to a need of continually being reminded of its theme, it is the glue that holds me together as I go. His grace was never meant to be preserved. Sealed within the vessel, without flow, it eventually begins to stink, stagnant in its own sense of self-righteousness…….
Posted by Jim at 8:35 AM