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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Running To and From a Garden

I love spring.  In fact, I think it’s my favourite time of year.  I carefully watch as the bulbs poke their leaves through the thawing soil.  It’s a promise of new and brighter things.  This year, as it has been each time we have moved, I watch in great anticipation of what those leaves will become.  I did not plant much of what is in my garden this year.  It was left and cared for by another’s  hand, and this spring, it is mine to watch come to life.  I know the families of what might appear, but I have no idea as to it colour, or it’s unique variety.  That is a gift from God itself.  What was lying very deep in the soil, while it froze over top of it, is reappearing as the sun shines, and rains come.

Have you ever noticed that in Scripture – some really big events happened in a garden.  Time began, as the saying goes, in a garden.  God placed His first created friends (yep, He created them for fellowship, a trend that has never changed) in the center of a perfect garden.  And it was in through the activities in this garden that Sin entered the world.  Adam and Eve began the legacy that would forever change our perfect communion with The Creator of the Universe.  

Much later in God’s story,  we find the First Born of Creation praying in a garden.  Praying so hard that it was as if he was sweating blood.  Studies have shown that is it possible to sweat blood under extremely stressful conditions.  I think Jesus facing death certainly met this criteria.  (here’s a link, if you want more information : http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=445320.  I find it interesting to note that as Jesus was preparing to pray at Gethsemane, he asked his closest friends to join him in the garden.  Yet again, scripture has The Lord seeking to have relationship with His creation, even in the darkest of times.  I’m afraid that I see too much of me in the disciples that fell asleep, even though they were asked to join in the prayer.  How easy it is to take the relationship for granted, assuming the one I love will always be there, and “sleep” through the last hours of our time…Lord, forgive me.

Fast forward through the time of Jesus trial and crucifixion, when He paid the final price to save us from the inevitable outcome of our sins.  We watch, through the writers of the Gospels, as His friends are gathered close on that hill.  They weep for their loss, they watch in anguish as their beloved  breathes His last, and they try to imagine life without Him.  If only they had paid more attention while He was alive.

But then, it’s Sunday Morning.  Mary had come to the garden tomb to tend to her Master’s grave, and she finds his body missing.  I know the panic I have when something quite trivial, like my keys, aren’t in the place they are supposed to be.  I can only begin to imagine the complete sense of panic, and despair, and questioning that she must have been feeling.  As I picture her wanting to run and find someone to ask what is going on – John’s gospel paints my favourite scene in all of scripture.  My dad had an old black and white print of this scene, and a different times in my life, I have only had to read the caption, and I find myself crying.  The scene is this:

Mary first sees the angels, and they ask why she is crying.  Then a man appears behind her.  We are told directly that it’s Jesus she sees, but she thinks it’s the gardener, and she asks where they have taken him.  He answers with just one word, and as I write this, I can hear how gently he says it, as a father would say his child’s name, or as gently as someone might whisper a dearly loved ones name; Jesus simply says “Mary”.  As soon as she hears this, she instantly knows it’s her Lord, and she cries “Rabboni”, which means teacher.

When this encounter is finished, she wastes no time, but runs (as the other gospels tell us) to tell the disciples.  Catch that – she ran, didn’t stop to hold the moment to herself, but ran to find the rest of Jesus closest friends.  As soon as they heard the news, it was so incredible, that they ran back to see it for themselves.  Good News brings excitement, and must be shared.  The friends of Jesus show us that – those who got the news first, could not contain their excitement, and had to run to tell others.

A few shorts months ago, on Christmas Eve – we read about those who got the new first of Jesus birth from the angels.  They ran to the stable, and when they saw the Truth in person, they ran to tell others.  Here, we are celebrating His life again, and as soon as people heard the news, they ran to see The Truth, and then ran to tell others.

When’s the last time you ran to tell someone about your relationship with The Truth.  Are you excited to have the opportunity to walk with God’s Only Son, the Risen Christ?  Good News must be shared, it’s just too  important not to share.  As the bulbs, and trees, and of God’s handiwork in this part of the world come back to life – be sure to share the news that the First Born of Creation is alive and wants to walk with each one of us.  This Easter – as it should be everyday – be sure to share the good news with someone you love, and then thank Him for the Gift of His life.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2009 in church life, orange thoughts

 

The innocence of Children

 

children-holding-hands1

Jeff and I were standing at the kiosk of the passport office on Monday.  It’s our day off, and we have had to plan for a Monday when it didn’t matter how long we were having to wait.  Turns out, we were done before 1:00p.m. that day.  Not nearly as bad as we had expected.  While we were at the kiosk, and the lady was making sure all of our documents were in order, I watched a truly moving and remarkable moment.

It all happened so naturally, and neither party realized any one was noticing.  Across the room from us, there were 2 families, each with a toddler, at adjacent kiosks.  These 2 children were behaving and not a peep was heard from either.  They weren’t fidgety, just sitting on the counter, and waiting for mom and dad to be done with the officials.

As I watched, (because as a children’s pastor I just notice kids), the youngest boy stretched out his hand.   The neighbouring child watched for a few moments and then stretched out his own.  He poked the center of the younger boys hand, and the instant response was for the younger child to close his hand around the protruding finger.  Then, the next moment, I watched as the two boys held hands around the partition.  These boys were from 2 cultures that would not normally interact, or even get along.  Yet, here they were, waiting to go home, just calmly holding hands.  At one point, they weren’t even looking at each other, just holding the other’s hand.  They were connected – while all of us in the building were trying very hard to not notice anyone else (except me, who was dying to take a picture – but thought the better of it).

It got me thinking, we all long to be connected.  In the confusion or even the anonymity of life, we need to know that other people are near us, and are experiencing the same thing that we are.  The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12 that, “11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
(from New International Version)

We were designed and gifted to build the body of Christ until we ALL reach unity in the faith…what a cool picture.  God, in His perfect plan, gave each of us gifts to be shared with the others in the Body so that we can reach unity and attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.   We can’t reach that unity alone, we need to be connected just as the body is joined and held together by every supporting ligament , (that’s us).  Without ligaments supporting us, we cannot function strongly.

I need you so I can stand tall in challenges, and I in turn will support you when you face your own issues.  We need each other – not to share secrets, or to talk behind the others back, but to support – prayerfully, physically, emotionally – until we are strong again.  Our congregation has as it motto/logo the following:connect500

Without connecting, we cannot ever grow (personally), and a lack of growth will prohibit us from impacting those around us so that they can continue the cycle.  Like those two boys at the passport office, I need your hand to hold.  We don’t have to say much, just know that the other is there.  In this way, the world will see us for Whose we are.