We just finished an amazing weekend of worship, reflection on the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ, spending time with family, and looking toward the future. We look backward at what Christ has done so that we can more clearly see our present and so that we can look ahead to the hope that He has for us in Him. Jesus is risen and that means something significant for us today and for our future as well.
On Friday night, our church set aside time to reflect on the sufferings of Christ. We often skip over the suffering so that we can get to the victory, but unless we go to the cross, I don't think that we will be able to really understand the resurrection. We took time to sit in silent prayer and meditation on the Lord and Scripture before the worship started. We did this for about an hour. Then, we sang, prayed, had some Bible study, and took Communion together. One of the songs that particularly touched me was the modern hymn, "How Deep the Father's Love for Us." There is a verse that says,
It was my sin that held him there / Until it was accomplished / His dying breath has brought me life / I know that it is finished.
My sin is what put Jesus on the Cross. He took it from me so that I would be forgiven, be restored to God, be justified, and so that He could bear God's wrath instead of me. He conquered Satan, death, hell, and He fulfilled the Law, nailing it to the Cross – the debt was paid in full. He disarmed the powers and authorities making a public spectacle of them by the Cross. He rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into His Kingdom. Because of what Jesus has done, I can now approach God with freedom and confidence. I can worship by the Spirit of God freely. Through Christ, God is reconciling the world to Himself, making all things new. What a glorious Savior!
Dwayne O'Riley, a man in our church, painted a painting for us during the two and a half hour worship/prayer service of the face of Jesus. He worked on it some more on Saturday and displayed it during the service this morning. Here is a picture from Friday night right before a tornado knocked out the power!
On Saturday, in the spirit of new life and God making all things new, I planted a small garden with the kids. We planted 7 tomato plants and a basil plant. I have tried this a couple of times before and something always went wrong. One year, I placed the plants too close together and they did not bear much fruit. Another year, we had too much rain and the plants grew huge but I didn't get any tomatoes out of them. I love fresh tomatoes. They taste totally different than the store bought variety. Anyway, it was a neat teaching time for the kids too. I don't try and make every little thing that we do have a spiritual application (even though all of life points back to God), but this just seemed to make sense and be very obvious. While we were digging up the ground, we talked about how we needed to have a soft heart toward God and how we needed to be humble before Him. We also talked about being good soil and the parable of the sower and the seed. They were really engaged and could understand a lot better with their hands in the dirt working to prepare the ground for planting. It was great to work with them too. They worked hard and, even though it is a little garden, tending it will be a rich experience this Spring. Here are some pics (Erika took them – I was filthy):
Yes, I know. A VERY small garden. But, it will be fun. If we do it well this year, next year, we're taking half the yard!
Worship on Sunday was great and we had a lot of visitors, although a lot of regulars were gone. Easter is not usually one of our larger services because we have so many young people and young families and they often travel to spend Easter with away with other family. But, we also have a lot of relatives come visit, so it is a different mix than usual. We started the day with a Sunrise Service and then about 25 of us went to eat breakfast together at a local restaurant. Our family made this an Easter tradition about 3 years ago and we just invite people to join us. We had a great time. After this, we went to church and continued to reflect on the great salvation that Christ secured for us. I preached about God's grace and mercy, but also about His justice and wrath. Jesus fully took God's wrath for us and brought us to God. My Mom in Mississippi will likely read this along with other family members, so I'll put up the picture that was taken of the family after worship. What a blessing my wife and children are to me.
Since I'm posting pictures, the following are from last weekend when Erika and I took the kids to some Greek gardens near Montgomery and then went to feed the ducks at a nearby park. There were some ducklings swimming in the pond that made for some amazing pictures, I thought. Enjoy and have a great week knowing and believing that because Christ is risen, He makes all things new!
I hope that you also had a great celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! God is so good and I see Him at work all around me is so many amazing ways.