He is Risen Indeed!

Yes, it’s April Fools’ Day
and yes
it’s Easter Sunday.

But the resurrection was no joke.

Those nails were real
as were the thorns

painfully drawing blood
that ours might be spared.

Jesus died.

He was removed from the cross
and buried in a tomb
sealed behind a boulder.

But three days later
He was not there.

The tomb was empty.

He had risen
as He said.

He overcame death
to promise us life.

Halleluia!

~  ~  ~

A Good Friday Moment

A time of reflection and questioning…

.

“Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”

Dan MacMaster (chancel) and Janet Eastwood (balcony)
Tenebrae Service, March 25, 2016
Haney Presbyterian Church
Maple Ridge, BC

~

IMG_3208

~  ~  ~

The Harmony of Words

If you look back, you’ll notice the titles of my recent posts seem to have a common theme: music, rhythm, and now harmony. I’ve been relating those themes to our writing.

Lucy

Much of this past weekend has been spent with family. Four generations of one branch came together to celebrate Easter at our son’s home. My hubby and I were the oldest; this smiling wee miss was the youngest. In fact, at just eighteen months, she is currently the youngest member of our entire clan.

When I reflect on the weekend, after the cross and resurrection, I think of family. It’s hard not to remember the food, too — turkey and ham with all the trimmings that accompany a sumptuous meal, mugs of coffee and multiple desserts. The next day’s leftovers were unforgettable, too — a help-yourself lunch with heaped plates taken out on the deck to consume in the warm sunshine. And at random moments there were always chocolate morsels to unwrap and pop into one’s mouth.

After the church services, with their prayers, praise and singing, there was a dishwasher to be loaded, emptied, loaded and emptied again, and pots to wash. There were repeated attempts to convince the dog to stay out of the kitchen, bubble blowing sessions on the front porch, and storybooks read by conscripted aunts and uncles, and, inevitably, the usual spills to wipe up before someone walked through them.

It was typical family stuff, but it was memorable because of the harmony. Good-natured banter, frequent hugs and laughter. Our faith and a common appreciation of the Easter events that drew us together. It was a weekend warmed by love and harmony.

Harmony is hard to define. In music we think of a pleasing blend of sounds or the absence of discord. There is a comfortable sense of balance when the parts meld into the whole. In real life it’s all that, and more, but what about in our writing? How is harmony achieved by words? I believe it’s one of those illusive things, like voice, that we can’t easily describe but must experience. We know it’s been achieved when a story leaves us satisfied.

Is harmony something you strive for in your writing? Harmony can be expected in the romance and inspirational genres, but do you think it needs to be present in others? In mysteries? In science fiction?

~  ~  ~

Super, Black and Blue, Full and New

No, I’m not bruised. I’m referring to the moon. There hasn’t been one visible in recent night skies. I would have called it a New Moon, except I read that “the third new moon in an astronomical season with four, is called a ‘Black’ moon”, and Wednesday, February 18th was a ‘Black’ one.

I’ve taken photos of Super moons, Blue moons, and just plain full moons, but a Black one defies my abilities, thus my photo of a near-full one instead. (I know, that makes no sense at all. Cut me some slack! It’s all I could come up with.)

Moon_2

Wednesday also marked the beginning of Lent, the period prior to Easter when “we journey through Jesus’ adult life as he reveals to us who God is and how much God loves us.”* Somehow it seems fitting that we should begin Lent in darkness. There will be full moons between now and Easter, of course, but consider this: on April 4th there will be a full moon accompanied by a total lunar eclipse — that’s on the eve of Easter Sunday, which falls on the 5th.

I expect it will bring home the reality of the Easter scriptures.

~

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

[Psalm 8:3-4, NIV]

~  ~  ~

 * Pastor Gerard Booy,
Haney Presbyterian Church

Easter? So What?

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Some have returned to work today, while others are still enjoying one more day of a long weekend. I wonder how you spent your ‘holiday’. I imagine that depended on your interpretation of  its significance.

Ask Google for a definition of holiday, and you’ll get the following:

hol·i·day  ˈhäliˌdā/
noun

  • a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.

Wikipedia, on the other hand, also looks at the etymology and says:

  • “The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”). The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation….”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides additional information, first citing it as a holy day before moving on to various popular definitions.

About now I expect you’re thinking, “So what? Get to the point!”

IMG_0234I was away for part of the weekend, travelling a little over 800 km round trip to visit with family and friends. One of the highlights was being able to rendezvous with a granddaughter and her husband, to meet my seven-month-old great-granddaughter for the very first time. We drove there on Friday morning and drove home Saturday afternoon so we could be in church for the Easter service. It was that important to us.

One of the messages at Easter is that Jesus died to pay the price for a debt he didn’t owe. He died an unimaginably torturous death, overcoming death to rise again. And he did it all for me (and you). After a Maundy Thursday service, daughter Shari Green wrote a poem that makes it very personal:

“Bread and wine offered,
Remembrance of open arms
And a life given.
This much, O Lord, you love me?
This much, He whispered, and more.”

Shari Green

The “so what?” of Easter — one’s definition of it as a vacation or a holy day — depends on a personal response. Without one  Easter has no purpose… and can you fathom someone willingly submitting to such a death for no reason at all? Oh, how He loves you and me! (Listen: Only God/Praise & Harmony: a cappella worship)

Do I dare ask how you spent your holiday? Better still, will you dare to tell me? (And isn’t that a precious smile to travel 800 km for?)

~  ~  ~

There’s a palm tree in my bathroom!

BlogBlank

DSC00947On my Flickr page last Sunday I posted a photo of a crown of thorns on a bed of palm fronds. It was one of the photos I took after the church service during which children had waved palms while parading into the sanctuary. Later our youth minister used the crown to explain how the king who was welcomed that day didn’t end up wearing a shiny gold crown as the people hoped, but a crown of thorns instead.

During the storytelling I heard again of how the Lord came into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and  suddenly recalled that on the way to Bethlehem, cradled within the womb of his mother, he had also travelled on a donkey. Prior to both his birth and his death he arrived on a donkey. I’d never thought of that before.

Many things don’t happen as we hope or expect, but God has a way of giving each experience a purpose anyway. We may not always realize it at the time.

Inexplicably linked with this account is the ‘coincidence’ that there is a palm tree in my bathroom.

DSC00962

Each summer for at least a decade I’ve purchased an inexpensive Majesty Palm for our back deck. I don’t deliberately plan for it to die, but neither do I try to keep it alive through the winter. It sits as a backdrop to our water garden and various pots of annuals, and when the chill of frosty autumn nights signals an end to their season, the palm follows them into the compost pile. That’s how it’s been every year… until last year. Last year when I went to buy a palm, there was none to be found anywhere, and I reluctantly substituted a Yucca plant. It was too small, more expensive, very stiff and not at all the gracious backdrop I preferred. I muttered frequently throughout the summer while I deadheaded the flowers in nearby pots.

So last Saturday I happened to be in a garden shop, looking for something totally unrelated, and came across a dozen Majesty palms, much larger than I’ve had before, and for much less money than I normally pay. Naturally… naturally, I stopped in front of them, and couldn’t budge a step until my hubby agreed that since we happened to have the truck with us, it was the perfect opportunity to buy one. It was meant to be!

It didn’t occur to me that this is still March and the weather won’t be predictably warm enough to put it on the deck for two months. Even the garage is too cold. So for a few days it is residing in the bathroom, sitting in a bucket getting watered and adjusting to the different humidity here. Then it will find its way into the living room and fill a corner there until late May. (I’ve never tried to grow one of these as a houseplant — please pray I can keep it alive that long!)

It wasn’t until I photographed the strange new bathroom accoutrement and subsequently downloaded all the weekend’s photos that I suddenly realized the palms waved by our children during the Palm Sunday worship service were the exact same kind as I’ve been growing every summer. How could I not have known that before? And how was it that I found my palm the day before Palm Sunday? A coincidence? I doubt it.

I haven’t figured out what it is I’m supposed to be learning from this experience, but I can tell you I’ve been giving palm branches and donkeys a lot of thought this week, and I have a whole new perspective of that parade into Jerusalem.

Have there been any revelations for you lately… any new discoveries in your writing or Holy Week meditations?

~

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

John 12:13

DSC00942

~  ~  ~