Revenge. Retaliation. Reprimand. Regret. These words represent emotions most of us feel when we have been wronged or hurt by others. The last thing we would want to do is pray for those who have treated us unfairly. When we choose this form of action, anger and unease settle in, thus affecting our own behavior toward others.
The Good Friday service at St. Luke’s is my favorite service of the year. This probably seems like an odd statement, as it is such a somber, solemn time of worship. But I believe that without first reminding ourselves of the incredible pain and sacrifice that Christ went through for us on that fateful day, it is difficult to fully experience the joy of the celebration of Easter just three days later.
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
Why is Good Friday good? How is it that a day that we remember as the day Christ died on the cross is one we call good?
It will soon be five years since we got the word that Bob’s mother, Jean, was in her last days. She had been living with Alzheimer’s for many years so we were not surprised by the call. We quickly made plans to fly to Houston and woke up on my birthday to make the trip, not sure what the day would hold.
The greatest lessons I’ve learned about facing death have not surprisingly come from people I have known who were near the end of their earthly life. One thing I have learned is that not everyone travels the same path. Some are anxious for many reasons; others are resigned to death even if they are not quite ready for it. Some people actively resist their fate, and still some welcome death like an old friend.
Being a mom has changed my life in a number of ways! It’s changed my perspective to realize what’s truly important. It’s made me stop and laugh at things that I’d normally be flustered about. Overall, it’s made me a better person as well as helped me see the joy in situations where I previously may not have.
The Apostle Paul was an extraordinary figure in the early life of the church. His teaching and leadership helped to start faithful Christian communities all around the Mediterranean world. Paul took at least three missionary journeys where he established churches in places like Corinth and Ephesus. He also wrote extensively to many churches, helping people deepen their understanding of the Christian faith and encouraging them to live a life reflecting their faith. Paul’s letters make up a good portion of the New Testament.
A few years back I joined our school’s cross country team. I love running but I have to say you don’t always experience people at their best in the midst of a five kilometer run. First, there is the run itself. Running a race at that distance is difficult. Second, the conditions of the race are seldom ideal. Weather can range from bitter cold to blazing hot and we will run through mud, gravel, up hills, through woods, and on narrow courses. And finally, some people are tired, sore, and thinking they are going to die because of the race, while others will push, shove, and say disrespectful things. I can tell you that I sometimes struggle in how I run the race – and not only in Cross Country races. I want to do better but sometimes I find myself reacting to people or the conditions of life in ways that aren’t my best.