Easter morning started on a dark pathway

Early on Easter morning I heard children calling to each other in a family Easter egg hunt. Then I focused on morning prayers for those on my heart. As I brought these dear ones before the Lord, I wondered how many of those struggling with cancer, chronic health problems, some without even a diagnosis, others with painful relationships, some still in the pall of the death of their loved one – how many were coming to Easter morning, which is supposed to be joyful, only in dread, or duty?

How many felt like the women trudging to the tomb before the dawn light, hearts heavy, hope gauged away? Carrying spices and the weight of the world, everything in their lives spun off into terrible disaster.

Venice Beach by Jack H Thompson, Jr

As I lifted them to the Lord, I asked for the same, lightning clarity for them that Mary experienced.

That they might hear the risen Jesus call their name.

That they might find so much more than they are seeking.

Ibis and reflection by Jack H Thompson Jr

In truth, we all find more than we are seeking, though we aren’t always aware of it.

ducklings by Jack H Thompson, Jr

In a service during Holy Week, I thought about the Last Supper and the scene in the garden afterwards, when one of the twelve who’d walked with Jesus, seen him heal and cleanse and raise the dead, betrayed him with a kiss.
(Read the whole story here.)

Immediately, a painful scene from early in my life flashed into my mind, distracting me. I tore my focus back to the covered cross before me.
(In our tradition, the cross which hangs over the altar is covered during Lent.)

Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, FL
photo by Fred Sieger

In that moment, I sensed a profound truth.

Though draped and obscured much of the time in my younger years, the cross has always been there in my life. Jesus was with me, loving me and dying for me every time I sinned,

Every time another sinned against me.

Every. single. time.

Since I was conceived, the cross has been there, redeeming me. Redeeming my life from the pit.

There were times when that redemption worked to prevent greater evil.

Other times, it worked to turn what the enemy meant for evil into good.

Every. single. time

Long before I could say the word, the Lord was there, redeeming me.

Long before I gave the mental assent and welcomed him as Lord, he was winding his love throughout my life.

Long before I studied the Bible and committed verses to memory he was writing on my heart with a nail-scared hand.

It is a great mystery, but it was the greatest truth I have ever discovered, that I have never been abandoned. Never neglected. Never hurt without being comforted. Never wounded without a healer at work. Never alone.

Not. one. time.

God is not limited by time or space. He is not linear as we are, with yesterdays, todays and tomorrows.

So he can be present in all things.

And he is.

For me, and for you.

sunrise by Jack H Thompson, Jrwater landing by Jack H Thompson Jr
Venice Beach sunlight from a cloud by Jack H Thompson, Jr

If this Easter was less than joyful, my wish for you is that you, too will hear him call your name,

Be alerted to the presence of the Living One, who is life itself,

Find a new and fresh vision this Easter season, tunneling into the swirling reality of God-With-Us.

Emmanuel.

flowers by Jack H Thompson, Jr

God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene….
No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along….We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.

1 Corinthians 2:6‭-‬10 MSG

How long is your Saturday?

I’m not asking how much you can accomplish on your first day of the weekend. How many chores or ball games. How much work or play you can squeeze into your day off.  This Saturday is the dark space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Between death and new life. Between reality as you knew it but can never experience again, and life as it will be.

Saturday is the place of death, of tears and loss and emptiness. Where hope does not glimmer around the edges. Nothing is like you thought it would be. Everything has come to a standstill.

How do you live through that long Saturday?

How do you climb through to glistening morning dew, faces you don’t recognize, but quicken your heart? A life you never planned to live?

We don’t get there by pretending it’s not dark.

That life before Friday didn’t matter all that much.

That it doesn’t hurt now.

Hollering in the graveyard may make small boys feel brave, but it can’t wake the dead.

And it won’t wake us.

We must wait. Live in the Saturday. Even if that living is slow motion, muted, arduous.

caterpillar under leaf
caterpillar under leaf

Until the sun rises.

I know some who have taken up residence in their Saturday. That’s no place to dwell.  If that is you, please, take my hand and walk with me toward the sunrise.

Leave your chrysalis and stretch out your wings.

butterfly on flower
butterfly on flower

Wait for the deeper reality, flowing through and behind.

 

butterfly
butterfly
Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly
butterfly in flight
butterfly in flight

When the time is right, we will fly.

 

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Message

 

 

All photos property of Jack H Thompson

Content of this blog is property of Jane Foard Thompson and may only be shared in its entirety, with attribution.

Breathe on me

Immediately following his agonizing crucifixion and supernatural resurrection, the first time Jesus appeared to the whole bunch, he breathed peace and the power of his Spirit over his disciples, and said, “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them? John 20:22-23, The Message. That last line stopped me cold.

I would have expected words of comfort for the fear and dejection they had experienced in the last few days.

Or answers.

What happened to Jesus? Where was he during those dark hours? What did it feel like? How was his body changed? How’d he get in the room with the doors locked against the world? What would happen to Him now, to all of them?

Instead, Jesus tells them the point of his resurrection power is forgiveness.

Really? Forgiveness?

Then I recall the words he gasped from the cross. “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.”

All right. I know He took our sins to the cross. But giving us the power to forgive sins?

“If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

Good question. What am I doing with sins against me?

God often speaks to me in mental pictures. As I ponder this, I see an image of me, navigating life with my hands full, cradling scars from childhood when someone hurt me deeply or wounded me by neglect, or from a painful relationship, or rage against the one who abused my children . . . (It goes on, and I’m sure you can write your own list.)

With my hands full, I have nothing to help me make my way through the tough places,

or to receive any gifts,

or to offer assistance to others.

I have to ask, who is being hindered the most now by my holding onto sin against me?

In the light of this, holding on seems preposterous.

So I journey on, forgiving some easily. With the others, deeper wounds from those who should have been the most loving, I have struggled.

Sometimes all I’ve managed is wanting to let go. And for a while, that was enough. The beginning of that road.

But as I felt the call to grow, no amount of sheer effort would make it happen.

I’ve come back around to the breathing part. Jesus breathes his spirit on us to give us the power to really live. The life we were created to live.

It’s pure gift. As I open my hands and heart, and welcome that breath, something in me is transformed.

Lord, breathe on me, giving me the peace the world cannot give, and the power to let go of sins, mine and those of others that have burdened me for way too long. Thank you for new life power.

Is there a struggle on your journey?