Friday, March 21, 2008
Grace. Dictionary.com defines it as "the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God." Unmerited - it wasn't earned and it isn't deserved, yet it exists - freely. Tonight was our Tenebrae (or Good Friday) service at church. This service never fails to impact me deeply and tonight was no different. We spent an hour in the darkness, the only light being the slight lights on the platform and the candles along the wall. The cross stood before us, draped in black cloth and holding the Christ candle. The choir sang and we sang and the narrators read to us. We were reminded of the beauty of the gift of love and grace of Jesus. We were guided through the Scriptures that narrated Holy Week to us and two things in particular stood out to me tonight. The first was that the Temple was being used for acts other than its purpose. Those acts stood in the way of what Jesus intended for the Temple. Have I allowed myself to be used for purposes other than those He has in mind for me and do I allow myself or those things to stand in the way of His will for me? The second was a statement made in the narration that went something along the lines of "Christians need to live a faith that isn't afraid of the dark - a faith that isn't afraid to doubt and fear." That concept just hit me fast and hard. Is my faith afraid of the dark or does it avoid it? I like to think I live a faith that is afraid of the dark but I know sometimes I don't. Another concept hit me fast and hard this week. When I was a young child, I used to be so upset around Easter and wonder how in the world the people back then could have possibly seen Jesus as someone to be crucified and how they could hurt him. It hit me fast and hard this week that had I been in the crowd when Jesus walked the earth, I too would more than likely screamed "crucify him!" You see, Jesus was different. Jesus brought this whole new concept that people weren't used to - loving those deemed unworthy. Jesus shows up and people begin to see how he lived and they didn't like it. It was different, strange, and to some - wrong. Do I do well with people telling me the way they think I should live? Absolutely not - therefore I have no doubt I too would have been among the mockers. This realization hit me fast and hard again tonight in the service and I cried. It breaks my heart to know that I am just a breath away from being among those who mocked and beat Him. Grace. Do I deserve it? Did I earn it? Absolutely not. Do I still receive it? Somehow, I do. How deep the Father's love for us indeed.