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Monday, April 25, 2011

From Good Friday to Easter Sunday

Good Friday is the one service all year that we have no fellowship time afterwards.  The sanctuary is dark, the music in a minor key, the candles black, the flowers sparse.  It is time to go deep into your soul, see your sin and be glad that Jesus died for it.  Then we wait.  We wait all day Saturday for Easter morning to break and we enter the same place of worship where we were on Friday and yet the color is back, signs of life abound in freshly cut flowers, even the daffodils sing their song of praise to the Risen Lord. 
Doug preached and I was responsible for the kids time and the prayer for the day.  The kids time was great fun.  I took an egg, with the insides blown out (almost needed medical assistance by the time I finished!) and then proceeded to explain to the children that I didn't understand why eggs were such a big part of Easter.  After all, they had nothing to do with the surprise his friends encountered when they found the tomb that Jesus had been laid in was empty.  I said that I was so mad about eggs getting so much attention that I just want to smash it to pieces...and then I cracked it on Doug's head!  The gasp was loud!  Then the delighted laughter when they discovered that it was empty!  I excitedly shared that this egg really did have something to do with Easter...it's empty, just like the tomb!  It was great fun and they were all delighted and surprised.  I was surprised!
Here is my prayer for the day:
Lord Jesus,
     You are the resurrection and the life, all who believe in you will never die.  Today is a day of victory and celebration because you have conquered the power of death.  As the people of God we have come together to celebrate your victory over death, which ensures that our future will be filled with hope and joy.  Our earthly lives know all too well the sting of death, but today dear Jesus, you have diminished that sting by overcoming death itself and we are here today as thankful and joy-filled people. 
     Lord, today we rejoice in the reality that the empty places in our lives are now filled because of the emptiness of the tomb.  Your living, your dying, and your rising again hold the promise for us of a life worth living, not because of anything that we’ve done, but totally and utterly because you have lived and died and risen again.
     And so we ask that you fill us with your love, that we might love others with a love that transcends reason.  Fill us with your grace that we might offer grace to another who is desperately in need of forgiveness and renewal.  Fill us with your joy that others might be drawn to you and find that even when life is challenging, you are there for them, waiting to embrace them and journey beside them through life’s most difficult valleys.
     Lord, we know that for many today those difficult valleys include the sting of loss from the death of a loved one.  We remember today those who have lost loved ones in the past year and ask that you provide relief and comfort to them as they grieve and adjust to life without their dear ones here with them on earth.  May the hope that is ours through Christ overcome their sorrow and ease the sting that death brings to our lives. 
     Lord, we pray for those for whom today is anything but hopeful.  Whether it be an unclear future, or waiting on news that they have permission to stay here in Sweden, be it the longing for family from whom they are separated, the financial strain that crushes them, or the concern that their children are struggling, or other significant relationships are breaking…Lord, whatever it is that is pulling hope out of people’s lives and filling it with despair, minister to them this day.  Surround them with the same loving presence that you assured Mary with at the graveside, that her sorrow will be turned to joy, that her anguish will end.      
     Loving God, it is such a joy and privilege to come and celebrate your resurrection, yet Lord, too, our deepest desire is that we live as Easter people every day of our lives.  May we know the power of your presence.  May we embody the grace that you so generously offer to us.  May we live as a hopeful people knowing that you have overcome all things and are actively making all things new. 
     Today we say hallelujah, for Christ is no longer dead.  The tomb is empty.  Help us Lord to share this good news with others that they too may experience the victory and joy that we do.  We pray these things in the name of our Risen Lord and Savior, the one who has conquered the grave, Jesus Christ.  Amen.
It's my prayer for today too, to live as an Easter person all the time.
We had a wonderful Easter, truly.  The second service was standing room only with people grabbing chairs from the cafe and sitting in the hallway! After the services were over, the choir was invited to take some flowers.  They loved mugging for the camera! 
It's been a good Lenten season for me.  I'm happy to be in Eastertide however.  It feels lighter...thanks to Jesus who shares my burden and makes my yoke easier.