D is for Death

DToday’s word is not so obscure but I thought,  as it is Holy Saturday (next Saturday is Easter Saturday…) and we’ve a day off tomorrow, that it is the perfect word.

Many Christians take time to remember Good Friday (the Crucifixion of Jesus) and celebrate Easter Sunday (the Resurrection of Jesus), but Easter Saturday is a quieter day. I’ve read a few articles and discussions about it and there is varied opinion on exactly where Jesus was on the Saturday.

The two main sides of the debate based on a) the words that Jesus says to the thief on the Cross, “Truly I ; and tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. He says, “It is finished” suggesting that His work was done and that we should do as He did, and rest on Saturday in anticipation of Resurrection Day.

Based on other verses in the New Testament, there is the opinion that b) Jesus ‘descended into the lower regions.’ 1 Peter 3 says that when Jesus died ‘he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison’ Those verses are the reason that Jesus’ descent into hell was added to the Apostle’s Creed.

It’s a great subject to dwell on and put some study time into, however what’s far more significant is the victory achieved by Jesus death. The sinless Lamb, taking on the sin of the world. Whatever conclusion we come to about Saturday, joy comes in the morning. The stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty. Death has been conquered, Jesus lives.

Death is so painful; I’m still recovering from two big losses last year. My mam is gone 10 years – I still feel that loss too. Jesus’ death means that death has not won, it’s not the final word.

Enjoy tomorrow folks. Jesus is risen, He is alive!

The too-long Facebook status update on why I’m not writing a Good Friday blog post…

This started out by me updating my Facebook status saying ‘I don’t think I have a Good Friday post in me today. #heavyheart and all that.’ Then I kept typing…

‘Reading my Good Friday post from last Easter it feels like it was written by someone else. It’s like I’m a different person from who I was this time last year. Life has been a game of snakes and ladders for me. Am praying for the strength to start climbing again.’

Still not too long for a Facebook post? I’ve seen longer… but I wasn’t finished.

small_5260296039I don’t really want to write another ‘Oh I feel so depressed’ blog post. I really don’t. I want to be happy and I want to be able to say out loud that I’m happy. But I feel like I’ve a heaviness settled upon me that I can’t rise above. I suppose that is grief; and I’m recovering (or not) from compounded grief at the moment. Two very different but big losses in the space of 3 months.

I think of Jesus carrying His cross to Calvary and I know I’m supposed to consider my ‘light and momentary troubles’ (2 Corinthians 4) as nothing compared to what He has done for us. And I’m trying to. I really am. But today l can’t find light and momentary.

Last year was so exciting. All the writing opportunities and the literary festivals and launching the book. I really felt that my writing career was taking off. No notions of being rich and famous – just published and out there. And yes I am that. But this year I was supposed to continue that and improve on that but I don’t know if I can. As I said I feel like it’s always snakes and ladders with me. I keep sliding back down and have to drag myself back to the bottom rung and start again.

Maybe that is everyone’s life and it just doesn’t look like it from where I’m standing. But it really really doesn’t look like it from where I’m standing.

One thing I know about Good Friday is that Sunday is coming. I doubt I’ll be back on form within 48 hours but resurrection day is coming.

After my mam died in 2005 I felt overwhelmed with the sadness that the previous few years had brought. God led me to this verse; I had it on a piece of paper, taped to my pc monitor in work. 1 Peter 5:10

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

I feel like I’m in need of this promise again. Starting that journey (again) to restoration and steadfast-ness. I wish I didn’t have to take the journey (again), but for some reason I do.

Vicky's crossTonight in our church service I’ll be singing… ‘and with every breath that I am given I will sing salvation’s song.’ As I read this back, it doesn’t sound much like salvation’s song. But then again Psalm 40 verse 2 says ‘he lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand’
Firm… steadfast…
exactly what I need right now.

So maybe it’s not that far away salvation’s song after all.

Verse 1 of that Psalm says ‘I waited patiently for the Lord and he turned to me and heard my cry.’
So here I am… waiting…

I am sure about one thing tho…. this was far too long for a Facebook post.  

photo credits
Snakes and Ladders: weesen via photopin cc
Cross: used with permission from @vickymiti

Messy Love

I was never a great one for preserving stuff for Sunday best. If I bought something new , I didn’t want to wait until Sunday to wear it; I wanted to wear it leaving the shop. I think my mother despaired of me a lot of the time cos she felt I’d no respect for my stuff; or myself. As a child I often had to be told to go back upstairs to clean my nails again and when I was a teen dressed in sloppy black clothes and equally sloppy make up, she just used to sigh and shake her head. I’d wear raggedy old jeans with my brand new top and she’d say, “would you not keep that top for something special?!” It never occurred to me…

I can do posh if I HAVE to!
I can do posh
if I HAVE to!

Good things had to be kept for good days. The ‘Sunday best’ concept comes from the same idea. In days when people spent their days up to their eyeballs in coal dust, farmland muck and terry towling nappies to wash, many people only had one set of ‘good’ clothes and they were for Sunday; when no one ‘worked’ and most folk went to church.

Another thing that used to drive my mam mad was when I wore ‘good’ clothes to do messy work. If I was forced to clean the car, help in the garden, tidy my room or even wash the dishes (none of these things were ever done willingly), her first comment was always, “would you not change out of those clothes first?!” So not only had I to do stuff I didn’t want to, but I had to do it wearing clothes I didn’t want to wear.
Can you see what a nightmare I was to live with….? (WAS? :D)

And weren’t we all taught not to spoil anything good to clean up a mess? If the washing machine floods all over the floor we don’t run for the new fluffy white towels that we bought last week. We get the old ones that we don’t mind parting with. We don’t get a brand new 100% cotton sheet from the hotpress and put it over the sofa while we paint the ceiling. We go rummaging til we find an old worn one with a hole in it that we were planning to throw out any way.

Photo by Vicky Miti. Used with permissionIt’s Good Friday and Christians around the world use this day to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. There was no way around it, sin had to be atoned for. The Old Testament (OT) shows how God’s creation was spoiled and from that moment He was working out His plan to redeem mankind. The OT is long and complicated in many ways but really it’s the story of a journey. The people of God learning the pure and perfect requirements of  a Holy God and spending most of their time doing the opposite of what they were told to do. All the time God kept sending people to say, “No, not that way… THIS way.”

The message of the prophets was a continual call for repentance. But for the people of God, repenting in their own strength was a bit like using old, raggedy towels trying to clean up the mess. Every time it seemed clean again. There’d be another spillage and another clean up was needed.

Then God did something strange but beautiful. He took the best thing he had and laid it down to clean up the mess. Like a snow-white towel on a filthy wet flooded floor, Jesus took all the mess and dirt upon himself. He was buried in a tomb covered in the manky dross of the world – past, present and future. And as if that wasn’t fantastic enough… three days later he came back out of the tomb and he was snow-white again.

Give it some thought this weekend! I know the world doesn’t look like there’s anything ‘snow white’ at the moment. But I’d urge you to lift your eyes and look up. Look at the Cross. Look at Jesus and consider how God used the best that He had to clean up a mess.
He held nothing back because He loves you.

Did you hear that?

He loves you!

Happy Easter x