Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Holiday (04/05/12)
TITLE: A Most Holy Day
By Ruth Thoutenhoofd
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Easter weekend - the teens in my house are so glad to get more time off school. The fact that they just had two weeks off for Spring Break and three days of no school due to a teachers’ strike doesn’t fade the joy of a four day weekend.
I’m glad too. No driving twice a day and no lunch making is a pleasant prospect. There are no little kids in my house anymore, so I don’t have to dye eggs or hide foil wrapped chocolate in the yard. We don’t make a big deal about the Easter meal. It should be a good weekend for me too. A holiday.
I admit to my husband that I really don’t like Good Friday services. I hate it when they give the gruesome details of the crucifixion. I actually have a bit of a phobia about that – pounding heart, dry mouth – so he doesn’t argue. We have an unspoken agreement not to go – just stay home and get some projects done. Easier that way. I do love Easter morning though – all celebration and joy over the risen Lord. I would never skip Easter Sunday morning!
Good Friday I wake up and as usual begin to write in my journal. I start out making some comments about the day and why it’s called what it is. As I write, my mind clears and my passion grows. “It certainly didn’t seem ‘good’ to the friends of Jesus. They stood by fearfully and watched him be crucified. They deserted him, denied him and watched him die a horrible death. It must have been unspeakably awful. But for we who believe in Jesus as our Savior, it is good. He took our penalty, allowing the wrath of God to be spent on his own broken body. ‘Thank you Jesus’ seems too weak by a very long shot. I am grateful way beyond words. By grace I am fully and completely forgiven for all eternity. By grace! Salvation is free for me!”
My writing halts as I ponder the reason I don’t want to go to church this morning. I am suddenly appalled at my selfish fear.
I badly want to go and celebrate this solemn occasion. This horrible, joyful, most wonderful, awful event. I am willing to hear about it, to enter in with gratitude. My phobia seems small and insignificant against the suffering of my wonderful Savior. How I love him!
The service is amazing. We truly embrace the cross. Mercifully, no one feels the need to give the awful details this time, but if they had, I was prepared to stay in my seat and identify with Christ in his suffering. Joy fills my heart and tears flow during the singing:
“How deep the love of God for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That he should give his only Son,
To make a wretch his treasure.”
We talk about it in the car and I am still joyfully tearful.
How did this happen? How did a “holiday” turn into this sacred time without my usual teeth-gritting attempt to remember Christ’s sacrifice? How did it, without any effort on my part to “do the right thing” in spite of how I felt, turn into a truly Holy day?
Just God, showing up and meeting me in tenderness and grace, determined to give me the gift of joy.
I am in awe.
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