Sunday, March 31, 2013

Take Up Your Cross

Back in February I wrote a blog about entering into my first Lenten season.  I was not raised in an Orthodox setting so this was brand new to me.  My family chose to give up television as a group and we all picked out our own individual “fasts” as well.  One of the things I gave up for Lent was social media (with the exception of business necessities).  In those forty days I experienced refreshing in every sense of the word, and I honestly don’t plan to make media a daily part of my life again. . .but Lent was only the first part of my journey.  Our Methodist Church walks through the life of Messiah from Lent (His 40 days in the wilderness) to the week of His Passover/Passion and then 50 days later we go into Pentecost.

As the season of Lent was soon to end, last Sunday  we “welcomed” Jesus into Jerusalem with Palm branches and heard the story of Him driving the money changers from the Temple.  On Thursday we kept the Passover feast together as a church family.  We sat as if we were with Him ourselves experiencing unleavened bread, bitter-herbs, and four cups of wine (okay so we used Welches).  During the Seder we experienced the traditional Maundy -Thursday foot washing in order to become like our Messiah and act as servants.

On Friday we attended the service of Tenebrae (Darkness).  We enter the dark sanctuary with only candles lit on the alter by the cross.  Our pastor and my husband take turns reading the story of Christ’s crucifixion from the gospels. . .after each passage ends, one candle is extinguished.  The last candle that goes out is the Christ candle.   “It is finished”, our Lord has died. . . He is now in the tomb. . .we leave in silence.

My family does not light or traditional Sabbath candle tonight. . .we spend the rest of Sabbath thinking about the Sacrifice made for us. 

But then, early the next morning, behold He is risen.  He is Risen indeed!  Our Resurrection service is beautiful.  The dark sanctuary of Friday has now been transformed in bright colors.  We have a special orchestra in honor of our Lords victory.  Our children are given seeds in the form of a cross to plant and remember they have life in Christ!  Our Pastor reminds us that Jesus death and resurrection does NOT guarantee us that we will have no more trials,   but it reminds us that even on the hardest day it’s not our last day.  We will one day follow Him into newness of life.

For many of you this Lenten/Holy Week cycle may seem like no big deal.  I hope that all of you have been blessed to participate in the fullness of our hope as Believers.  But for me this was the first time I was able to participate in the fullness of Christs Great Passover.  Our Great Passover. 

Mark 10:21-  Take up your cross and follow me

1 Corinthians 5:7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

What a beautiful walk we took. . .in the wilderness. . .through the streets of Jerusalem. . .at the Passover. . .in the garden. . .to the cross. . .and on into His victory over sin and death!

Passover Seder with our Pastor and his family. . .My Husband and Pastor Rick at Tenebrae.