He is Eastered in Us

Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing that you can be born again
Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing Christ is risen from the dead

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah

Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing
Christ, He will reveal it now

The angels, they all surround us
And they are ministering Jesus’ power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
For this could be your glorious hour

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah, hallelujah

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
~Keith Green

“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins

Too often, the bright light of Easter morning dims over time
as we return to our daily routines.
In mere days,
the humdrum replaces the extraordinary,
tragedy overcomes festivity,
darkness overwhelms dawn.

The world encourages this,
we don’t muster enough resistance.
we climb right back into the tomb of our sin,
move the huge stone securely back in place,
and lie there waiting for rot to settle in.

We are not alone. We have plenty of company with us behind the stone.

The stone is pushed aside,
the burden shouldered,
the debt completely paid.

How can we allow the light to dim?

He is risen.

We are eastered beyond imagining.

Holy Saturday

by Ben Gibson

“Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to the decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.”
– Luke 23:50-54

Do not pass Holy Saturday without a second thought.

What did Mary and the disciples feel when Jesus was on the cross? What did Joseph of Arimathea feel as he peeled the bloodied and lifeless corpse down from the tree? It could not have been deep feelings of gratitude. They were not sitting around thinking: ‘Golly, I sure feel justified now. I’m so glad Jesus just took care of my sins and such.’

Instead there was a deep and real despair, along with a re-entering into the daily routine. Joseph knew the Sabbath was about to start and he had to get Jesus down and placed in the tomb before it did or else he would be ceremonially unclean. Had he or the disciples known what was going to happen, the Resurrection on the third day would not have been nearly as glorious.

Lament and complaint to God is a needed and natural response. To simply say it will all get better is to ignore the reality of sin and pain that we know from experience are the realities we face on a daily basis.

So do not pass Holy Saturday without a second thought.

Take time to mourn. Take time to lament. Give yourself the time and space to sit in discomfort. The disciples took time to be in that space. Christ himself took time to dwell in that space. The pain and sin we face are real. Take time to let that sink in before the coming morn establishes a new reality.

Considering the Names of Jesus: Man of Sorrows

by Hosanna Lovegren

“He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” Isaiah 53:3

A homeless Stranger amongst us came,
To this land of death and mourning;
He walked in a path of sorrow and shame
Through insult and hate and scorning,

A man of sorrows, of toil and tears,
An outcast man and lonely;
But he looked at me and through endless years,
Him must I love, him only.

+++May Whittle Moody, 1916

I came across this little poem recently while reading a book about Lilias Trotter. I tried to find it online and found that it’s really only the first verse of a hymn which was probably sung at Dwight Moody’s gatherings in the early part of the 20th century.  Lilias Trotter attended these gatherings and was deeply affected by them. It must have been songs and thoughts like these which caused her to make the unlikely decision to turn her back on an artistic career for the very long and unglamorous life that she had ministering to Muslims in Africa.   

This week we too reflect on such things and the meaning they have for us. We remember that the one who saved us and loved us once walked a lonely and excruciating road to the cross, “through insult and hate and scorning.” With loud cries and tears, he cried out to his father in heaven and his father heard him because of his “reverent submission.” He was saved out of the depths of death, and became  “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9)

Man of sorrows, what a name.

As May Moody wrote so long ago, Him must I love, him only.

Considering the Names of Jesus: Bridegroom

by Noa Lovegren

            Weddings are one of the most wonderful events. Just the idea of having two people love each other so much that they want to share life together is a wonderful thing. But just think about the event itself–the beautiful wedding dress, the lovely bride, and the dashing groom. And the delicious feast at the end. The joyful attitude of a wedding is intoxicating.

              As much fun as earthly weddings are, Jesus promises that His wedding feast will be the best. Why? For He is the Bridegroom and His Church is the bride. What is the wedding dress? The church is clothed in Christ’s righteousness. And to top it all off: this wedding feast will take place in Heaven.

             Jesus loved His church so much, He shared life with her. And he promises the wedding feast will be the best day of our lives, for there we will have no sin. In Revelation it says, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

            Jesus is the Bridegroom. And while we wait for His return, He gave us a love letter, His Word, that we might be reminded of Him daily. He has promised His bride (the Church) life with Him forever.  And Jesus never breaks His promises. This wedding feast will come to pass.

Considering the Names of Jesus: Shiloh

by Ben Gibson

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Genesis 49:10

On Sunday, April 6th, 1862 the Union soldiers were still cooking their breakfasts when they heard shots in the distance. Camped out near Shiloh Meeting House, the open field was only supposed to serve as a pit stop on the trek down to the Confederate rail center in Corinth, Mississippi. However, a patrol of Union troops stumbled upon 35,000 Confederate soldiers on the outskirts of the Union camp and one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War ensued. With over 100,000 troops engaged and over 20,000 casualties by the end of the fighting, the Battle at Shiloh was the bloodiest occurrence on American soil up to that point in the country’s history.

At the center of all the fighting stood the small Shiloh Meeting House. The Messianic use of Shiloh, meaning “he to whom it belongs,” is found only once in Scripture, in Jacob’s blessing to his sons in Genesis 49. While Shiloh was also a town in Ephraim, the term is alone used with prophetic connotation by Jacob. In blessing his son Judah, Jacob declares that Judah’s tribe will hold the scepter until “he to whom it belongs” comes.

Christ, we know now, is the one to whom it belongs.

But it is not just the scepter that is Christ’s. We know from Colossians that all the world was created in and through him. Christ is Shiloh, he to whom it all belongs. I am often left wondering, however, whether Christ would still claim it? In a world where the events, such as the one at Shiloh, Tennessee, have become common place, why would a perfect God choose acknowledge ownership over such a messy reality?

In the incarnation, we are given the answer. Christ, in the incarnation, comes and shows, in taking on human flesh and human nature, in taking on our sin through his own suffering and death, that it all belongs to him.

In the incarnation, Christ claimed every moment from Jacob’s death to a spring morning in Tennessee and beyond. In the incarnation, God, in Christ, surveys all of creation and declares “…this is mine.”

Shiloh Battlefield Tennessee

Considering the Names of Jesus: Dayspring

by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

“Through the tender mercy of our God . . .
the dayspring from on high has visited us,
to give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,” – Luke 1:78-79

The name of Jesus we consider today is the name ‘Dayspring’. That is a quaint, old-timey word which really simply means “dawn” or “sunrise.” But, what an interesting name for Jesus.

Many of us seldom see the sunrise – especially this time of year. But for others – those who work the night shift, farmers up doing chores before first light, or soldiers standing guard through a long, creepy night – the dawn is a most welcome sight. Everything changes when the sun comes up. It brings warmth from the cold; breadth of understanding for we can see what’s around us; and often, unspeakable beauty spread across the sky. No wonder sunrise is many people’s favorite time of the day.

So, when the old Jewish priest Zechariah was told by an angel that he would have a son (John the Baptist), he sees in that announcement an even greater good news. If God was giving him a son as a forerunner; that meant the full sunrise of God’s plan was about to dawn. Actually, Zechariah didn’t make this up; he was referring to God’s ancient promise
of a Messiah, given through Isaiah:

“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light; on those living
in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.” – Isaiah 9:2

And Jesus’ coming has proven to be nothing less than a new dawn: suddenly, the Old Testament prophecies make more sense; God’s unfolding plans are more obvious, and the beauty of God’s grace suddenly shines everywhere. Suddenly there is hope where there was only despair; understanding where confusion had reigned; and good news of God’s grace that eclipses all the rigors of the law. Surely a new dawn has come, for Jesus, the Light of the World, has dawned upon those sitting in darkness and despair.

May you feel the warmth and see the beauty of God’s Sunrise, during these days of Holy Week.

Considering the Names of Jesus: Bread of Life

by Noa Lovegren

 The essence of childhood is being hungry. Most people won’t admit to it, but have you ever stopped to think how many times you told your mother, “Mom, but I’m starving!” As children, we need those nutrients to help us grow, and as we grow, we need food. That’s why many memories of places are, “I remember being really hungry there.”

  In our spiritual life as children of God, much of our story is being hungry, too. But not for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but for Christ and His Word. As we grow in our faith, we grow hungry for fulfillment. Jesus tells us that those who don’t know Him are starving for want of food–Him–the Bread of Life.

   This is why Jesus is everything we need. He is our food, our life, our hope in the face of starvation. He can satisfy any need with Himself and He will give it. He says, “Anyone who comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out.”  Those who try to satisfied there hunger with things of this world are never satisfied. And if they don’t go to Him, they will die of spiritual starvation. This is why we so desperately need our Savior for He is our Bread of Life, always there to fill us, if we just go to Him. Praise His name!

 “I hunger and I thirst; Jesus my Manna be,
Ye living waters burst, out of the rock for me.
Thou bruised and broken Bread; my lifelong needs supply,
As living souls are fed, O feed me, or I die.”