Approaching Easter, in the depths

There’s this song by Damien Rice and part of the lyrics keep playing in my head:

“And why do you sing Hallelujah… if it means nothing to you …
why do you sing with me at all?”

I don’t ever want to do that.

I don’t ever want to sing Hallelujah and not mean it.

I don’t want to borrow someone else’s words to praise God – My worship to Him should always be my own to Him, from my own heart.

I’ve always found that true praise springs up naturally to Him out of my own experiences – when I’ve seen His face, when I’ve felt His touch, when I’ve experienced His miracles and His rescuing love for me first hand.

It’s through those times – it’s because of those times, that I can sing Hallelujah, and mean it so deeply from my very core.

I’ve never experienced the Easter season the way I have this year…

I’ve always loved this holiday so much for the sweet gathering of my humongous family and our friends, eating, catching up, laughing, hunting eggs, and celebrating the annual reunion we’ve always shared at Easter as well as Christ being our Risen Savior. It’s beautiful. It’s fun. It’s exciting.
That’s what Easter day looks like to me – a joyous celebration with the people I love.

But this year is different.
I’m sure Easter day will still be a beautiful day of celebration.
But this year, it’s not just about that one day.
I’ve had the opportunity to more purposefully honor the days before Easter, the season leading up to that Holy day.

This is the first time I’ve ever observed Lent. It’s been a special time of laying down some things that are good in my life to allow more of my focus on what is best, to not just spend a little less time indulging in things I like but to intentionally take that time and energy and invest it in nurturing my relationship with God, as well as entering into this season more wholly – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

It’s been a sweet time, well worth the sacrifice.
It’s been a new thing for me, and I could have done it better, I’m still learning.
Thankfully I’ve had help. I’m so grateful to be a part of a fellowship that is teaching me more about this season and intentionally participating in all aspects of it in such a rich way. Although I’ve been celebrating Easter all of my life, this is the first time I’ve really experienced it so fully and the journey has already been truly enlightening and life giving.

This is the final week of Lent.
I’ve been looking forward to this week for some time – even excited about it.
But I’m not really ‘excited’ about it anymore.
The anticipation is there, but I’m seeing more clearly what this week is about – the dark days of Christ’s suffering, the wretched hours leading up to His death.
The more I’ve come to understand this season, and especially this week – the closer I find myself to the critical element of suffering.

Weeks ago, one of my pastors began to describe Good Friday by saying
“if it was good, it was only good after it was bad.”
Makes you think…

In the past this week before Easter has always been mostly about planning what dish I’m bringing to Easter, coloring eggs, and picking up a few toys to add to the post-egghunt prizes we give out. That won’t change this year. But what will change is my focus, the deeper spiritual tone of it, leading up to Sunday.

This week is special. It’s sacred.
This week embodies sadness and suffering.

Through our church leadership, we’ve been called to enter into that with Christ – to identify with Him in His pain – to experience it fully –
and thereby experience the celebration of Him as our Risen Savior more fully.

I want to be a part of that.
And yet, *sigh…* I don’t want to.
It saddens me.
And it’s beautiful.

I want to get it – to understand it all.
I want to go to the depths, if that’s where Christ is, to experience and identify and all of that.

I have a few opportunities to help my focus –
Today ~ we observed the beginning of Holy week, Palm Sunday- the Sunday before Easter that commemorates the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem leading up to His death on the cross…
we sang, we learned, we had communion, prayed, reflected, and prepared our minds and hearts for the coming week.

Thursday ~ I will have the privilege of taking my seat on a floor along with an intimate gathering of others to observe a Passover meal that will look as closely as possibly like that in scripture down to the food and wine. wow.

Friday evening ~ our church, along with other churches, will come together for a shared Good Friday service downtown.

And throughout this final week of Lent, I hope to take as much advantage of it as I can, day by day, hour by hour, to lay down my self for more of Him.

To clear out all of the excess, the unnecessary…

More prayer. More meditation. More of Him.

Some of the things gleaned from this morning’s service:

Follow who… Christ
Follow how… down
Follow to where… death

Reading ~ Matt 16:21 / Luke 12 / John 12

Now my heart is troubled – and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.

It’s not just the power of the cross – it’s in the weakness on it that we see His power

Accept ‘powerless’… revealing the limitless of God’s love.

My life will break… and God’s broken world will mend;
My heart will tear apart… and your hearts will heal.

Prepare the way of the Lord…

When you eat and drink of this – remember. I’ve rescued you.

Closing prayer – a calling into the final week of Lent:

We willfully allow our lives to get worse, before they get better,
so we can be wholly redeemed

Take our hands Father, and lead us down that path of descent with you.
That we may fellowship in Your sufferings, that we may sit in that dark hour with You…

My desire was to experience this season differently – more intentionally – more fully.
I want to be changed by it, to be better for it.

On Easter day, I want to sing Hallelujah, and mean it… with everything in me.

Quote of the week:
We choose to identify fully with You in Your death, so that we can fully identify with You in Your resurrection. ~Ben Nockles

Lyrics for the week:
“Take me there to the place where you are,
take me there, take me there,
I just want to be where you are”

“Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.”

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