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Tag Archives: Easter

So Messed Up

“What is the most broken and messed up thing in the world?” This conversation-starter was posted on Facebook today, and the answers have kept me interested all afternoon. Poverty, sexual abuse against women and children, the inaccessibility of plentiful resources like food and clean water, greed for power and money, the value of money outweighing the value of human life, the pandemic of broken families, terrorism.

I can’t argue against any of those. Nor can I argue that one is more messed up than the rest.

The answer I would contribute is that the sacredness of sexual purity is broken. That’s almost the same answer as sexual abuse, but it’s broader than that. Abuse happens because individuals lose (or never had) a sense of the sacredness of sexuality, and their selfishness drives them to inflict their perversion on other people. That trajectory is manifested in so many ways: pornography and child pornography, prostitution and sex slavery, adultery, rape and other forms of assault… The list goes on and on, and I believe it all stems from purity not being cherished and protected.

So much brokenness. It is so heavy. And it is so close. There’s no point in deluding ourselves into thinking the mess doesn’t touch our own yard. It’s here. It’s everywhere. And it sucks.

My heart is often heavy in prayer for broken loved ones. Abusive relationships, devastating illnesses, financial blows that keep on coming. I pray for them and I pray with them. And then, so often it feels like the next wave of trauma just sweeps right over us all. And sometimes bitterness creeps into my prayers. “Really, God? This is what You thought was a good answer? Because this is kind of the exact opposite of what we were praying for.” Sometimes I’m tempted to decline praying for someone lest they be sucked into the vortex of my run of bad “luck”.

The last couple of weeks have been especially overwhelming, with waves coming from every direction. Talking about brokenness on Facebook is too heavy, too close.

But it is timely.

As Easter approaches, I think it is worthwhile to consider the brokenness. The loss. The seemingly unmet expectations of our prayers and hopes. I’m sure that’s how Christ’s followers felt 2000 years ago as they watched Jesus being arrested, tossed back and forth between governing bodies in a sham of a trial, beaten and then condemned. Hour by hour, they must have felt like “This is as bad as it can get. He’s going to show Himself strong any moment now. He’s about to do the big miracle that we’ve been waiting for.” And then, no. Crucified.

The brokenness and the desperation of such loss – it’s unbearable. Where is the hope when it feels like God is playing a sick joke? How can we continue to cry out to Him for help when we can see how He’s answered all our prayers leading up to this point? How do we trust Him when it looks like He failed?

The answer lies in Sunday morning.  We find our hope in the resurrection, the triumph over death. We cling to that reality from centuries past, but it is also a picture of a coming final victory. The mess will be eradicated, the brokenness will be fully healed.

Today, we wait in the pause of Saturday, wallowing in brokenness and pain. We may question the purpose of the pause: why is He waiting? But let us not give up entirely. He is big enough to handle our doubts and bitterness and even accusations. He is patient enough to wait out our tears. He is purposeful enough to make use of the pause. And He is already victorious in the coming dawn.

Sunday is almost here.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in God, Personal Growth

 

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Not a Fan

Sports fans are great. They totally buy into their team – the jerseys, hats, face paint, horns and huge foam fingers. They are at every match, sometimes even traveling to see their team in away games. They are loud and boisterous and supportive. Their contagious enthusiasm incites fervour in other spectators. And the athletes feed off the crowd’s energy.

But heaven forbid that the beloved team should botch a game. Then those previously adoring fans mutate into rabid, psychotic monsters. They launch shouted insults at the players. They spew venom at the coaches. They call down curses upon the officials.  Once their expectations are dashed, their affection quickly erodes.

Passover week 2000 years ago must have been a similarly emotional about-face. It started with a parade. A hero rode through the streets of Jerusalem with his posse. Fans turned out in droves to cover the parade route with palm fronds. They screamed and cheered as their champion passed by, hoping for a glimpse, a wave, or an electric moment of eye contact.

The entire Jewish nation had been waiting to hear from God for hundreds of years, and here he was in the flesh: a hometown hero, a compassionate friend, a miracle-worker, an impassioned orator, a self-restrained rebel, and a soon-to-be political conqueror.

And then Friday happened.

Instead of rallying his supporters, instigating a military revolt, and challenging the authority of the hated Roman occupation, the Jewish champion quit. Just gave up. No fight, no flight, no sly manoeuvres in the night. Just resignation. Surrender. Defeat.

And in the blink of an eye, his adoring fans turned on him. The voices that had so recently chanted his praises now shrieked in hatred, demanding his death.

I can’t say that I would’ve acted any differently. The realization that my intense fervour was so dramatically misplaced would sting too much. Nobody likes feeling duped. And nobody likes a hero who appears to have wussed out. I don’t know that I would be bloodthirsty enough to actually cry out for his assassination, but I can’t honestly claim that I would have stood in his defense.

My expectations of how he would demonstrate his power would have distorted my understanding of how he said he would demonstrate his power. And I would’ve walked away, fully believing that all was lost.

Today, we all have days, weeks, months that feel like that Friday. Instead of the dramatic victory that we were so sure was imminent, we find ourselves bewildered by the apparent shift in power. We feel abandoned. Crushed. Bewildered by what on earth just happened.

The difference between the fans of then and the fans of now is that we have the benefit of knowing how that weekend played out 2000 years ago. We know that death wasn’t the end of the story, and that the hero’s eventual demonstration of power was more magnificent and more triumphant than anything we could have imagined.

I don’t want to be a fickle-affection fan. I am all in – investing everything I have and everything I am for the cause of my Champion’s victory. No matter what Friday holds, I already know what Sunday will bring.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Story of Christmas

Two years ago, Christmas time marked the beginning of a busy rehearsal schedule for the Easter Passion play that I was involved in at my church. It was a big deal – huge set pieces, lots of lights, orchestra, cast of 100, thousands of audience members… I loved it!

We’re doing it again this year. And by “we”, I mean our church – not me personally this time. (I have enough drama going on in my family right now; it’s just not choreographed as well.) But I did dig up the rough DVD that was made of our performances in order to lend it to a friend who wanted to know what she was getting herself into when she auditioned. Before I gave it to her, I watched it again myself.

Two years have provided enough “distance” that I was able to watch it more as a spectator than I could before. It was deeply emotional to see it without having to concentrate on blocking and song cues and all those memorized lines. I was freshly overwhelmed by the story – that God gave up His rightful place on the throne of Heaven and stepped down into the mess of humanity, knowing full well that it would cost Him His life.

It was also great to get caught up in the nostalgia of it as I watched. All those hours of rehearsal, the late nights, the endless repetition of scenes and songs, the bonds that were formed amongst the cast… such great memories. Faces came and went on the screen – some people that I’ve maintained close friendships with since then, and some that I haven’t really seen since the final show – but every single one of them, so precious. So committed to telling the story of Jesus. Contributing their own stories into the larger picture, weaving their own hurts and hang-ups, faults and failures, triumphs and treasures into the grand plot of God’s redemptive plan.

Towards the end of the show (spoiler alert), Jesus is crucified. I bawled watching it. How could it affect me so deeply after hearing that story so many times and for so many years already? I’ve seen passion plays before. I’ve seen Mel Gibson’s movie of it. And I saw it dozens of times as we rehearsed. It was the same story. Why was it suddenly piercing me in a new way?

Because it was the same story.

Two years have changed the stories of all those cast members. Collectively, these two years have brought engagements, weddings, college graduations, newborn babies, new jobs…but also a miscarriage, a death, a cancer diagnosis… Our stories have changed significantly.

But God’s story has stayed the same. Two thousand years haven’t changed His story. A story that started amidst political upheaval and speculations of a scandalous affair.  A story that pitched two seemingly random, ordinary people onto an unexpected life trajectory.  A story that had been in the works since the beginning of time, but came into being in a crude, little animal shelter. A story that built from humble beginnings to an unfathomable climax: the violent death of God’s own Son. And then – surprise! The story wasn’t over yet. That Son reclaimed His life out of Satan’s hands and spent a few more days with His friends and followers before returning to His Father’s side.

He came. He lived. He died. He lived again. And soon He’ll come again.

The story of Jesus has not changed. But it can change us, if we let it. It’s the only way for our stories to make sense.

This Christmas, whether you are enjoying days of celebration with family and friends, or struggling to keep your head above water in tumultuous seas, may you be touched and blessed by the story of Jesus. May the reality of His life supersede the reality of yours.  And may you truly experience peace, joy, and love in the year ahead!

Merry Christmas, dear ones!

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Family, God, Heaven, Personal Growth

 

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