Lenten Meditation: Q & A for Holy Week

Lenten Meditation: Q & A for Holy Week

Question: "What is Palm Sunday?"

Answer:Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, exactly one week before His resurrection (Matthew 21:1–11)....

 

Question: "What is Passion Week / Holy Week?"

Answer: Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Also included within Passion Week are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday...

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Lenten Meditation: Eulogize your living loved one

eulogy  noun, plural eulogies.1. a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially a set oration in honor of a deceased person. 2. high praise or commendation.

In our week's Lenten meditation, we focus on the Lord's care for His dear mom as His own death approaches.  How tender, how like a beloved son of a beloved mom! Caring for our treasured loved ones is at the heart of "family" in the purest sense of the word.

However, we often forget that true caring can be much deeper and more needed than merely physical care, as critical as that is.  There's a caring that touches heart and soul...one that meeting physical needs approaches, but a caring that perhaps only loving words can reach.

We busily go through our lives, often thinking many kind thoughts and feeling loving, appreciative sentiments for our loved ones, but not stopping to put words and voice to them...nourishing the soul of ones we love.

Rather what do we traditionally do?  We wait until the person has passed away to express those words, words that deep down she may have been longing to hear.    We give those golden words to others in the form of a eulogy, either formally or informally delivered, at a funeral or memorial service.

I've been thinking a lot about death these days, especially since my dear mom has gone to her reward with Jesus in heaven just last November.  About eight years ago, several of my siblings had the wonderful brain-child to celebrate my mom's 85th birthday with a big party/reunion.  This was a huge deal with music, singing, readings and fun!

As part of that, many of us wrote, in a sense, our eulogies to her, and my son Jeremy compiled them in a book with photos.  And as wonderful as the entire occasion was, the most important thing was that little volume of golden words.

I'm not sure my mom was able to take it all that day. But I do know something was received...she was honored with words of love, affection, and affirmation.  And she looked through that book while she was in the Manor House Senior Center, and who knows but many memories kicked in when she viewed not just words but also  photos of loved ones.

So dear friends, don't wait too long!  Don't even wait till 85...life is a vapor!

I really believe that a big part of our grief over the loss of a loved one is really regret (which can eat us alive!).  Seize the opportunity to just simply say the beautiful, wonderful things you think and feel, even right then and there in the moment. You don't need a big bash to do it! Don't assume the person knows how you feel!We are all insecure enough to NOT KNOW!

You will be glad you did...but most of all, your loved one will be "cared for" in the depths of her soul!

For His honor and glory! Amen!

To see my "eulogy" for my mom's 85, click here.

Take a look at the one another verses.

The Prayer of Relinquishment with a different outcome, part 2

Welcome to part 2 of an article by Catherine Marshall entitled, the Prayer of Relinquishment.  If you missed part 1, be sure to read the previous post before today's post.

...In time, I gained more understanding about the Prayer of Relinquishment through the experiences of others in contemporary life and through books. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a pattern for us, I learned. Christ could have avoided the cross. He did not have to go to Jerusalem that last time.

He could have compromised with the priests, bargained with Caiaphas. He could have capitalized on his following and appeased Judas by setting up the beginning of an earthly kingdom. Pilate wanted to release him, all but begged him to say the right words so that he might. In the Garden, Christ had plenty of time to flee, but he used his free will to leave the decision up to his Father.

J. B. Phillips, in his book The Gospels: Translated into Modern English, brings Jesus’ prayer into focus for us. Dear Father, all things are possible to you. Please let me not have to drink this cup. Yet it is not what I want, but what you want.

The prayer was not answered as the human Jesus wished. Yet power has been flowing from his cross ever since.

Even when Christ was bowing to the possibility of death by crucifixion, he never forgot either the presence or the power of God. The Prayer of Relinquishment must not be interpreted negatively. It does not let us lie down in the dust of a godless universe and steel ourselves just for the worst.

Rather it says, “This is my situation at the moment. I’ll face the reality of it. But I’ll also accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.” Acceptance, therefore, never slams the door on hope.

Yet even with hope our relinquishment must be the real thing, because this giving up of self-will is the hardest thing we human beings are ever called on to do. I remember the agony of Sara, an attractive young girl who shared with me her doubts about her engagement.

“I love Jeb,” she said, “but he drinks. Not that he’s an alcoholic. Yet the drinking is a sort of symbol of a lot of ideas he has. This has bothered me so much that I wonder if God is trying to tell me to give Jeb up.” As we talked, Sara came to the conclusion that she would lose something precious if she didn’t follow the highest and the best that she knew.

Tears glistened in her eyes as she said, “I’m going to break the engagement. If God wants me to marry Jeb, he will see that things change—about the drinking and all.” Right then, simply and poignantly, she told God of her decision. She was putting her broken dreams and her future into God’s hands.

Jeb’s ideas and ideals didn’t change, so Sara did not marry him. But a year later she wrote me an ecstatic letter. “It nearly killed me to give up Jeb. Yet God knew that he wasn’t the one for me. Now I’ve met The Man and we’re to be married. Now I really have something to say about trusting God!”

It’s good to remember that not even the Master Shepherd can lead if the sheep have not this trust in him. That’s the why of Christ’s insistence on practical obedience: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Our pliability must be complete, from our wills right on through to our actions.

When we come right down to it, how can we make obedience real, except as we give over our self-will in reference to each of life’s episodes as it unfolds? That’s why it shouldn’t surprise us that at the heart of the secret of answered prayer lies the Law of Relinquishment.

So Mrs. Nathaniel Hawthorne, wife of the famous American author, found as she wrestled in prayer in the city of Rome one day in 1860. Una, the Hawthornes’ eldest daughter, had a virulent form of malaria. The attending physician had that afternoon warned that unless the young girl’s fever abated before morning, she would die.

As Mrs. Hawthorne sat by Una’s bed, her thoughts went to what her husband had said earlier that day. “I cannot endure the alternations of hope and fear; therefore I have settled with myself not to hope at all.” But the mother could not share Nathaniel’s hopelessness. Una could not, must not die. This daughter had the finest mind, the most complex character of all the Hawthorne children. Why should some capricious Providence demand that they give her up?

As the night deepened, the girl lay so still that she seemed to be in the anteroom of death. The mother looked out the window onto the piazza. A dark and silent sky was heavy with clouds.

I cannot bear this loss—cannot—cannot....Then suddenly, unaccountably, another thought took over. Why should I doubt the goodness of God? Let him take Una, if he sees best. I can give her to him. No, I won’t fight against him anymore. Having made the great sacrifice, Mrs. Hawthorne expected to feel sadder. Instead she felt lighter, happier than at any time since Una’s long illness had begun.

Some minutes later she walked back to the girl’s bedside, felt her daughter’s forehead. It was moist and cool. Una was sleeping naturally. And the mother rushed into the next room to tell her husband that a miracle had happened.

Now, the intriguing question is, What is the spiritual law implicit in this Prayer of Relinquishment? Fear is like a screen erected between us and God, so that his power cannot get through to us. So, how does one get rid of fear?

This is not easy when what we want most is involved. At such times, every emotion, every passion, is tied up in the dread that what we fear is about to come upon us. Obviously, only drastic measures can deal with such a gigantic fear and the demanding spirit that usually goes along with it. Trying to deal with it by repeating faith affirmations is not drastic enough.

So then we are squarely up against the Law of Relinquishment. Was Jesus showing us how to use this law when he said, “Resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39)? In God’s eyes, fear is evil because it’s an acting out of lack of trust in him.

Jesus is saying, admit the possibility of what you fear most. Force yourself to walk up to the fear, look it full in the face—never forgetting that God and his power are still the supreme reality—and the fear evaporates. Drastic? Yes. But it is one sure way of releasing prayer power into human affairs.

The Prayer of Relinquishment with a different outcome

Years ago, I was captivated by A Man Called Peter, the story of Peter Marshall, the former chaplain to the Senate, as told by his wife, Catherine Marshall.  But it was Catherine herself that really drew my attention.  She had experiences with God that made me long for more than what my "camp" of Christianity had systematized.  So I began to read everything I could find about that fascinating woman.  And I searched for her writings, which at that time were few and far between...or so I thought. Though I couldn't seem to find much (that was before internet), I started to piece writings together and grew to love how she responded to the Spirit of God.

But recently I discovered an article in Guideposts magazine.  Apparently, Catherine had been one of that magazine's regular writers.  So for the next several days, I would like to re-post her classic article, entitled "The Prayer of Relinquishment."

Catherine's treatment of this subject gives another outcome from the previous post...but it is still at heart the same -- total submission of our self-will to the good and sovereign God who is also our loving Father.  He is worthy of no less!

Catherine in her own words:

Like most people, when I first began active experimentation with prayer, I was full of questions, such as: Why are some agonizingly sincere prayers granted, while others are not? I still have questions. Mysteries about prayer are always ahead of present knowledge—luring, beckoning on to further experimentation.

But one thing I do know; I learned it through hard experience. It’s a way of prayer that has resulted consistently in a glorious answer, glorious because each time, power beyond human reckoning has been released. This is the Prayer of Relinquishment.

I got my first glimpse of it in the fall of 1943. I had been ill for six months with a lung infection, and a bevy of specialists seemed unable to help. Persistent prayer, using all the faith I could muster, had resulted in—nothing. I was still in bed full-time.

One afternoon I read the story of a missionary who had been an invalid for eight years. Constantly she had prayed that God would make her well, so that she might do his work. Finally, worn out with futile petition, she prayed, All right. I give up. If you want me to be an invalid, that’s your business. Anyway, I want you even more than I want health. You decide. In two weeks the woman was out of bed, completely well.

This made no sense, yet the story would not leave me. On the morning of September 14—how can I ever forget the date?—I came to the same point of abject acceptance. I’m tired of asking, was the burden of my prayer. I’m beaten. God, you decide what you want for me. Tears flowed. I had no faith as I understood faith, expected nothing. The gift of my sick self was made with no trace of graciousness.

And the result? It was as if I had touched a button that opened windows in heaven; as if some dynamo of heavenly power began flowing. Within a few hours I had experienced the presence of the Living Christ in a way that wiped away doubt and revolutionized my life. From that moment my recovery began.

Through this incident, God was trying to teach me something important about prayer. Gradually, I saw that a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer. I understood that the reason for this is that God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; that, therefore, unless self-will is voluntarily given up, even God cannot move to answer prayer...

Come back tomorrow for the remainder of this article.  Until then, the question:

What am I demanding of God, thinking wrongfully that it may be "faith"?  What am I holding back?

Lenten Meditation: A Prayer of Relinquishment

We humans have a problem with wanting to be in control, don't we?  To yield our will to another human is risky...will they follow through? Do they really have our best at heart? Or are they all about their own self-interest?

Harder still to surrender to a God who allows hard...even impossibly horrible things...to enter our lives.  He doesn't seem to play by our rules, does He?

But I am struck by Jesus' prayer from the cross.  It reveals a lifetime of surrender to His Father,

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

I reflect on His prayer just a few days earlier,

Not my will, but thine be done.

Many have followed a young mom who prayed that same prayer as she walked out her death for the past several years...leaving a devoted husband and four young children behind just the other day. A hard "why?" enters our minds.

But the wonderful thing was that Kara Tippetts "lived while she was alive."

Read her story here on her blog Mundane Faithfulness.

As I think of Christ's final prayer, I ask myself,

What am I hesitating to relinquish? How about my "All"?  Nothing held back!

What might you be hesitating to relinquish? Your all, holding nothing back?

Let's think about that and we'll talk again.

Lenten Meditation: Eulogize your living loved one

eulogy  noun, plural eulogies.1. a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially a set oration in honor of a deceased person. 2. high praise or commendation.

In our week's Lenten meditation, we focus on the Lord's care for His dear mom as His own death approaches.  How tender, how like a beloved son of a beloved mom! Caring for our treasured loved ones is at the heart of "family" in the purest sense of the word.

However, we often forget that true caring can be much deeper and more needed than merely physical care, as critical as that is.  There's a caring that touches heart and soul...one that meeting physical needs approaches, but a caring that perhaps only loving words can reach.

We busily go through our lives, often thinking many kind thoughts and feeling loving, appreciative sentiments for our loved ones, but not stopping to put words and voice to them...nourishing the soul of ones we love.

Rather what do we traditionally do?  We wait until the person has passed away to express those words, words that deep down she may have been longing to hear.    We give those golden words to others in the form of a eulogy, either formally or informally delivered, at a funeral or memorial service.

I've been thinking a lot about death these days, especially since my dear mom has taken some major steps in that direction.  About six years ago, several of my siblings had the wonderful brain-child to celebrate my mom's 85th birthday with a big party/reunion.  This was a huge deal with music, singing, readings and fun!

As part of that, many of us wrote, in a sense, our eulogies to her, and my son Jeremy compiled them in a book with photos.  And as wonderful as the entire occasion was, the most important thing was that little volume of golden words.

I'm not sure my mom was able to take it all that day...and maybe will never be able to take it in until Jesus says, "Well done, my faithful daughter, Jeanette!"  But I do know something was received...she was honored with words of love, affection, and affirmation.  And she can look through that book today, and who knows but memories may click in!

So dear friends, don't wait too long!  Don't even wait till 85...life is a vapor!

I really believe that a big part of our grief over the loss of a love one is really regret (which can eat us alive!).  Seize the opportunity to just simply say the beautiful, wonderful things you think and feel, even right then and there in the moment. You don't need a big bash to do it! Don't assume the person knows how you feel!

You will be glad you did...but most of all, your loved one will be "cared for" in the depths of her soul!

For His honor and glory! Amen!

To see my "eulogy" for my mom's 85, click here.

Take a look at the one another verses.

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

My God, My God...
My God, My God...

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon.

By this time, Jesus has already forgiven His executioners as they cruelly hammered Him to the Cross...as they, careless for His pain, roughly lifted and dropped His Cross into the ground...Father, forgive them.

By this time, He lovingly has received the confession and cry of a repentant thief with a word of hope...Today you will be with me in Paradise.

And by now, He has tenderly cared for His suffering mama by entrusting her to His beloved disciple and friend...Behold your son...behold your mother.

Three hours of agony are yet to come...as if enough suffering hasn't already been His cup. This agony will be beyond understanding and description!  But this is the crux of theFather's cupthat Jesus has chosen to drink...and drink it He must...to the full!

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.” Matthew 27:45-49 NLT

crucifixion with darkness
crucifixion with darkness

Strangely silent, God the Father abandons Jesus, God's Son...for three hours.

This is the same Father who validated Him at His baptism with the words:

This is my beloved Son in whom I'm well-pleased. Matthew 3:17 ESV

...the same Father who declared Him superior to Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration:

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" John 17:5 ESV

...and the same Abba who responded to Jesus' prayer just days before His crucifixion:

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” ...Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:27-32 ESV

But now nothing but darkness!  What kind of rift could be happening in the Trinity?

Whatever it is, it's so mysteriously real that we hear the very human God-Man ask the question we all ask when we face the "unanswerables" of life...WHY?

Theologians* down through the centuries have basically scratched their theological heads, trying to understand and explain this mystery of mysteries.

But it's the pages of Scripture that give us the answer to Jesus' WHY?

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed forour sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.Is 53:4-6 NLT

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2Cor5:21 ESV

God turned His back on His Son so He wouldn't have to turn His back on us...

Because the wages of sin is death...spiritual as well as physical; because death means separation...separation from God (spiritual death) as well as separation of the soul from the body (physical death); Jesus our Brother underwent spiritual death as well as physical death to be our sinless Sin-Bearer, our Perfect Substitute.

Jesus the God-Man was spiritually separated from a Holy God in order to take our place...and bring us to God.

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit... 1 Peter 3:18 NIV

And WHY?

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.John 15:13

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1John 3:16

Prayer:

"We twist in anguish at Your cry ..."My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  God forsaking God, this is a mystery beyond understandingA forsaking that was meant for us, but wretched alienation and blackness experienced by You.Because of that tormented howl, the barrier that kept us from God tears in two.  And we who have insulted and mocked You, denied You and crucified You, we fall on our knees and whisper Good Friday truth: "Surely this man was the Son of God." Ann Voskamp, Trail to the Tree

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Something to Think About:

Tears
Tears

Have you ever been forsaken by someone you love?  Jesus understands...He was no stranger to abandonment.  He was abandoned by His nation, His people, His "so-called disciples, His brothers, Judas, Peter...and in reality, us as well.

He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Is 53:3 NLT

Have you ever felt abandoned by God?  Jesus was!  And this has been the experience of devout believers through the ages.  (See Dark Night of the Soul) Of course, we will never experience it to the extent of the Son of God.  But we know that because He has gone through it before us, He understands and comes to our aid even when the Heavens may seem like brass...silent and dark.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT

Have you asked the WHY? question...without getting a reply?  Read what our Mysterious God says:

The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. Deut 29:29

Bible student:
Bible student:

Bible Students:

Many Bible scholars consider Psalm 22, the psalm Jesus quoted here, a Messianic Psalm. There are at least four points of comparison between Psalm 22 and Matthew 27.  See if you can find them. Look especially at Ps 22:1,7,8,18 and Mt 27:35,39,43,46.

You may also like to read through the Gospel of John during this Lenten season.  As you do, make note of how intimately connected to and dependent on the Father, Jesus was.  This made the abandonment the Son experienced all the more painful...all for you and me!

* A Theological Word:

God forsaking God.  Who can understand that? Martin Luther (quoted in Abiding Christ Church, Lenten study 2012)

The first three sayings were probably all spoken before noon.  This one, which is in every way central, was uttered about 3pm, after three hours of darkness and silence during which the Son of God bore the sin of the world.  In that work He had to be forsaken by God, and yet at the same time there was no splitting up of the Trinity.  All that is involved is inscrutable, but He gave Himself, He was made sin, He bore sins, and His soul was made an offering for sin.  His work was to bear sin.

Charles Ryrie,  Biblical Theology of the New Testament, p.69