Lenten Reflection: Love is Come Again

by Emily Gibson

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.
~John Crum from The Oxford Book of Carols

 

Over the last several weeks, roots have become shoots and their green blades are rising chaotically, uneven and awkward like a bad haircut.  And like a bad haircut, just another two weeks will make all the difference — sprouts will cover all the bare earth, breaking through crusted mud to create a smooth and elegant carpet of green.

There is nothing more hopeful than the barren made fruitful, the ugly made beautiful, the dead made alive.

The fields of our broken hearts recover; love is come again.

 

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Lenten Reflection: Write on My Heart Every Word

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by Tricia Hitchcock

 

from “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”

We don’t live in a nation where we suffer much for our faith.  Our access to the Bible is not limited.  And yet, just like persecuted believers, it is those things that we memorize, those things which are “written on our hearts” that shape our thinking, especially in times of trouble.

And just like God’s people throughout time, it is the stories of God’s work that remind us of His greatness and His power and His faithfulness and His care. (Psalm 136)

So on this Holy Saturday, between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, may the story of Jesus, from Creation to Revelation,  be written on our hearts so we can carry it wherever we go and remember all He has done for us.

And be encouraged.

 

Lenten Reflection: Fearful Fallen Place

 

by Emily Gibson

Though you are homeless
Though you’re alone
I will be your home
Whatever’s the matter
Whatever’s been done
I will be your home
I will be your home
I will be your home
In this fearful fallen place
I will be your home
When time reaches fullness
When I move my hand
I will bring you home
Home to your own place
In a beautiful land
I will bring you home
I will bring you home
I will bring you home
From this fearful fallen place
I will bring you home
I will bring you home
~Michael Card

 

This song, sung each year at our Chapel’s Tenebrae service,
is a message long awaited
through the bright darkness of Lent
and the midnight of Good Friday.
It is Christ’s message to each of us:
when we ask to be remembered,
when we truly and wholly ask for forgiveness
for whatever is the matter,
for whatever we have done,
we find our only hope and comfort is in Him.
He brings us home.
Home.
Homeless no longer, but homeful and hopeful.

 

Lenten Reflection: Five Bleeding Wounds

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by Tricia Hitchcock

 

“Arise My Soul Arise”

How can we even think of approaching God? He is Holy. He is Perfect. He is Powerful. He is All-Knowing. And we are dust.

But the truth of the Gospel is that God, the Righteous and Just, is also God, the Merciful. God provided a way to reconcile us to Himself. He sent His holy, perfect Son to die and pay for our sin.

And now, Jesus’ wounds are a reminder that our sins are paid for. Jesus, the only mediator between God and man, presents us to the Father and God forgives us.

And we can now call God our Father. Hallelujah!

 

Lenten Reflection: Melt Mine Eyes to Tears

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Detail from “Descent from the Cross” by Rogier van der Weyden

 

By Ben Gibson

Alas and Did my Savior Bleed

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

I blushed easily as a kid. Being immensely shy and having a naturally rosy complexion meant that my face would flush at any shame or embarrassment. The smallest mistake would bring heat to my cheeks and knots in my stomach.

I’m not alone in this. Shame, humiliation, and embarrassment show. And this has been the response to the Godhead from time immemorial. After eating the apple, I am sure Adam and Eve blushed. Bodies flushed red for the first time, they hid in bushes.

Before the cross, our faces and bodies blush. During this Passion Week, we as Christians are confronted with the depth of our sins and they shame that comes from them. It is only in being confronted by the cross that we know the true depth of our sin and shame. Our sins could not be hidden. Instead, they had to rest on the perfect human. They pierced the hands of the God-man. They made him blush, sweat, and bleed. To see Jesus hanging on the cross is to be confronted with the weight of all our sins. When we see him on the cross, we will blush.

What do we do with our shame? We do not beat it out of ourselves. We do not bury it. Rather, with tears streaming down, our hearts dissolve in thankfulness.

The response to our shame is gratitude. Even as see our sins laid on Christ, we thank the Son who has taken them. Even as our cheeks blush at the cross, let them be wetted with the tears of gratefulness.

‘Tis all that we can do.

Lenten Reflection: I Will Not Be Shaken

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By Nate Gibson

 

Every year March 11 holds profound significance for me, as it does for so many in Japan. This month marked seven years since the Triple Disaster–the Tohoku earthquake, and the resulting tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis–that devastated this country.

We at the Christian Academy in Japan were roughly 300 miles from the epicenter, and yet our sturdy building shook for several minutes, sending books and supplies off the shelves, and frightened students and staff under their desks.

The hours and days that followed were filled with aftershocks and tremors stronger than the average earthquake. After a while, I couldn’t tell when the ground beneath me was shaking and when it wasn’t; whether it was the earth or I, myself, that was constantly trembling, the whole world felt suddenly unsteady.

In the midst of this instability, a familiar praise song assumed new meaning for me. The lyrics of “Psalm 62” by Aaron Keyes read,

My soul finds rest in God alone,
My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes,
And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness,
I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah!

 

The 2011 earthquake reminded me in a very literal way that my hope comes not from any physical thing; that even the ground itself is unreliable. Yet, all is not hopeless–even as the earth gives way beneath our feet, we can rest in the truth that God is our rock and our salvation.

In Him, we stand on a foundation that will never crumble.

And, we will not be shaken.

 

 

Lenten Reflection: Let Me Never Outlive My Love to Thee

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by Tricia Hitchcock

“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”

How fickle we are. And how forgetful.

On Sunday morning, as we are sitting in church singing and hearing God’s Word, it is easy to be impressed with all that God has done. And we are grateful.

But as the week wears on, we are tired. We feel like God has given us more than we can handle. We even sometimes feel forgotten. And we complain.

But God has done so much for us. We can never be grateful enough. He created us. He gives us every blessing in our lives. He has given us a beautiful world to live in. And we rejected Him. But He didn’t give us up for loss. Instead, He Himself provided a way that our sins could be paid for and we could come to Him. At great cost, with great pain, Jesus was wounded and died for us. How can we ever say thank you?

We live as God’s children, for His glory, sharing the message of His grace with a world that doesn’t know Him, living for Him wherever we are. May we never forget all He has done. And may we never outlive our love for Him.