Lift High the Cross
A glorious, blessed Easter to you! I hope that you had a wonderful Easter Sunday - we really did. The weather was perfect here in Huntsville and it was such a lovely time with family and friends, made even sweeter by the presence of our precious baby grandson at his first holiday gathering. There was something so stirring and hopeful about four generations coming together in celebration of our faith. I encourage all of us - myself included - not to do our typical thing of immediately putting yesterday’s holiday up on the shelf to move on quickly to the next one. We had forty days of Lent to prepare our hearts for Resurrection Day, now let’s take some time to really ponder what this tremendous event means for our lives.
I have been thinking about some things in my childhood that were truly foundational to my life and faith. My father was a career Navy man, which meant that we moved relatively frequently. Of course, moving means that you get a new house to live in, a new school to attend, new sports teams to be on, and a new church home. My favorite place of all was Gales Ferry, Connecticut - a beautiful little town near the seacoast of New England. I have such fond memories of our time there, and a great percentage of those have to do with our church experience. It was a Lutheran church and so many formative events in my life took place there - Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, singing in a choir, being an acolyte, going to church camp - it was all such a wonderful and important part of my childhood.
As an aside, to all of you who have teenaged and adult children who were raised in church but have wandered away from God, please do not despair. In my own experience, and having watched many thousands of students over the last decades, the strong foundation of faith that was laid in childhood did not go anywhere during my season of wandering and rebellion, and when I did finally give my heart and life to Jesus, that foundation proved a great blessing to me. Keep on praying for them and speaking truth to them in faith.
One of my fondest memories of that church body in Connecticut was the celebration of Easter weekend. On Good Friday, we had a brief worship service that ended at midnight. It made such a strong impression on my young heart - we gathered in quiet and reverence, and the entire santuary was in darkness, lighted only by a solitary candle on the altar. A woman in our congregation with a beautiful alto voice slowly and contemplatively sang the song “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord” with no accompaniment. The pastor gave a message about the severity of our sin and necessity of the Cross, and then blew out the candle. We stood in silence and total darkness for what seemed an eternity to me back then, and then we all filed out in silence behind the pastor to go home and consider what that holy night meant.
But then, as it always and gloriously does, Easter Sunday morning came! We gathered together again in the full sunlight with sanctuary lights and candles blazing to declare with us the Great News that Jesus has risen from the grave! It does not end with death and defeat - rather Jesus’ death was the great victory and the Resurrection rings the truth that death has been defeated, and sin no longer reigns unchecked. We shared the broken body and blood of Christ together and then then absolutely belted out the song “Lift High the Cross” which even now as I write this, forty years later, is giving me chills as I think about it.
Come, Christians, follow where our Savior trod,
our King victorious, Christ, the Son of God.
All newborn servants of the Crucified
bear on their brow the seal of Christ who died.
O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree
your death has brought us life eternally.
So shall our song of triumph ever be:
praise to the Crucified for victory.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore His holy name.
Easter is not a quaint American thing, about bunnies and colored eggs and chocolate with vague connections to faith and church and family. Honestly, Easter is not even just a Christian thing, as though it was some sort of museum piece or artifact that we alone can contain and curate. The death and resurrection of the Son of the Living God is The Thing, akin to the discovery of the cure for cancer or aging except infinitely more important - something bigger and more impactful than any of us can fully understand.
This season is not just for us to reaffirm our faith and keep on doing the best we can to keep it, is is an explosive reminder that the King of the Universe willingly gave His life for us so that we could truly live, now and forever. Everyone must know this! My children, my church - yes, of course. But also my neighbor, and the young men who keep getting into trouble in my town, and the woman in the hijab I keep seeing at the grocery store, and the little boy in the village I have never heard of on another continent.
We run the risk of treating our faith so flippantly, and of being lulled into an inactive and ineffective sleep in the long years of waiting for Christ to return. We run the risk of believing the lies that either none of this is true and there is no such thing as God, or that maybe the world is right and all roads lead to heaven. But even events of the last few weeks are telling reminders, as though the Lord were speaking to us. A black hole pictured for the first time, a beautiful cathedral buring and stirring our hearts and emotions so deeply for what we almost lost - the Bible is all true, every bit of it. God created the heavens and the earth, Jesus is the glorious and risen King, and He is returing again one day in glory. The great patience and love of God is what the long wait is about. He is not willing that any should perish without Him.
This is far too magnificent for us to keep to ourselves, and to just sit around and worry and fret endlessly about how people just don’t live right anymore. They have not yet had an encounter with the Resurrected King - we must tell them about Him. We must open our mouths and share the Good News. We must open our hearts and wallets and give generously to send missionaries around the world, so that everyone may hear. We must lift high the cross, today and every day until He returns, until all the world adore His holy name.
Comments are closed.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
Subscribe to regular blog posts!