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Friday, April 6, 2012

Special Edition--Holy/Easter Saturday

Today C is our guest contributor and there are no pictures today.  C is a 3rd year seminarian and has been learning quite a bit, which is good, since he will be expected to spiritually lead a congregation on his own within the next 15 months.   I'd say he's well on his way.  Take it away C....

            Today, is Easter Saturday, the day that the World’s savior lay dead in His tomb, hastily wrapped in linen and 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39).  The horrific and painful scene as relayed to us in all four Gospels is fresh on our minds, and Jesus’ words “I will destroy this temple and in three days rebuild it” (Matt. 26:61; see also Mark 14:58, John 2:19) shine like the guiding beam from a lighthouse on a foggy coast.  How do we put in to words, the anguish, the pain, the sorrow we feel because our temple, our safe place, our salvation has been destroyed?  I suggest we use the lament of the people of Israel, when the Babylonians came and destroyed the Temple Solomon, their comfort, their safe place, their salvation.
            A history lesson very briefly, the people of Israel (God’s Chosen people) had utterly hardened their hearts and mocked the messengers of God (Chronicles 36) so God caused the Babylonians to rise up destroy the Temple as well as the wall around Jerusalem, and take the King of Israel into captivity along with those who had survived.  God’s house, His dwelling here on Earth, has been destroyed by God’s own allowing because of the sin of people throughout the Earth.  Sound familiar?  I hope that it sounds like Good Friday:  Jesus, God dwelling with his people (Emmanuel- God with us), is killed by sinful people the world over because of our sin and God’s allowance.  So, Israel is lamenting the destruction of their hope and we are lamenting the destruction of our hope.
            We can use the words of Israel’s lament to put words to our own lament.  We can read the Old Testament book of Lamentations.  Lamentations is a relatively quick read, we read it alternating verses in my family on Easter Saturday.  Do not be deceived by the shortness of the book (6 pages in the Bible I am using), there is much depth and artistry conveying the lament and agony of Israel.  Some of the artistry is lost in translation, the meaning remains just as powerful.  Some of the artistry that is lost: chapters one and two are 22 (number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet) verse acrostics where each verse starts with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  Chapter 3 is also an acrostic where each letter gets three verses.  Chapter 4 is an acrostic like Chapters 1 and 2.  Chapter 5 is 22 verses long but not an acrostic.  The structure shows artistry, an economy with words, and a lament that stretches the full breadth of the language.  Chapter 3 stands out as the longest and the most hopeful, fitting for such a time as this, the first two and last two chapters put words to the depth of emotion at the destruction of God’s dwelling, Jesus’ death.
            The words of Jesus still ring in our ears, “Three days and I will rebuild it” and the third chapter of Lamentations points us to that hope that in the midst of our sorrow and angst there is hope, we have not been forgotten, God is our comfort and our salvation, he hears our prayers in the midst of the pain and suffering; the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end v.22.  His mercies never come to an end even to the point of sending His son to die for our sins.  

Wow, thanks C for that insigtful piece. 
I'd say this picture applies more now than ever.

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