Unleashing God’s Love in Your Life
Lately I can’t sleep! I toss and turn; my legs involuntarily shake. Cyndy says that when I do sleep, I mumble…almost as if I’m wrestling with something or someone. Normally, I’d be complaining about this. Maybe even going to the doctor. But the truth is I’m excited about it, because I’m not sleeping because I’m stressed out. I’m sleeping because I’m excited! And let me tell you that feels so good at any stage of one’s life! Call me crazy, but after 25 years of doing this thing called Holy Week you would think I’d get kind of immune to it…but, in truth, I am a 5-yr-old waiting for the Easter Bunny to come on Easter morning! I can’t wait! The week of Easter is the most amazing week of my life! I love it! And every year it transforms me.
From the donkey and palms to the intimate last supper. From the “Hosannas” to the crude and rude “Crucify him!” From Pilate’s washing of his hands, to Jesus’ washing of the disciple’s feet. From the “It is Finished” to “Christ is Risen!” From the utter darkness of Jesus’ death, to the sunrise of that first Easter morning! This is the greatest story in all human history! And I can’t wait to see it played out in my life and yours!
When I was first in ministry, I met with a small group of interfaith leaders. We were all kind of lamenting how hard it was to be religious leaders in today’s world. The Rabbi and Iman were sharing their struggles and then I started chiming in about my struggles and they both looked at me and said, “Brook, I don’t know what you are complaining about…I mean you have Easter for crying out loud! The greatest story in the world! I mean that story even get’s me excited!”
One of the parts of the story that I love so much is when the curtain of the temple is torn in two. Jesus is hanging on the cross about to die. Mark, the gospel writer, tells us that at noon the entire world is covered in utter darkness. And then Jesus breathes his last. As Jesus breathes his last breath, there is a powerful earthquake. It’s almost as if the whole world is trembling. And during this earthquake, the curtain in the temple is ripped in two. Crazy!
Mark, of course, is speaking in incredibly symbolic language here. The temple, you see, was an exclusive place. It was the place where the Ark of the Covenant was held. And for the Jewish folk of that day, the Ark of the Covenant was where the holy scrolls were kept. It was the place where God almighty resided. For a Jew in that time, the closer you got physically to the Ark of the Covenant, the closer you got to God.
And so, if you tried to enter the actual Temple, you would be stopped if you were not a Jew. And if you were a woman you were only able to go into the first room of the Temple. Only men could enter the second room. And if you were not a priest, you could only go that far. Only priests were allowed up to the actual curtain of the temple. Every week the priests would stand in front of the curtain and draw straws for who would be able to go into the “Holy of Holies” to enter behind the curtain, open the Ark of the Covenant, take out the scrolls, and read the Word of God. The priest who drew the lucky straw would enter the Holy of Holies and was called upon to come back with a word from God and share it with all the people. In some ways this process sets the historical precedent for how and why pastors deliver sermons!
But when Jesus died, the curtain was torn in two! What Mark was trying to say was that in Jesus this division between Jew and non-Jew, between women and men, between the haves and the have-nots was forever obliterated! That God was no longer, and never was, a God who was kept hidden and afar. At the cross, God was unleashed out unto all the world. We didn’t have to climb the ladder to God, God’s grace was pouring out into the world through the amazing love of Christ!
This Good Friday and Easter I hope and pray that this understanding of God’s grace enters each of our hearts and we will be a part of the unleashing of the love and joy of God’s love! Wow! Just thinking about it keeps me up at night!
Your friend and pastor, unleashed for Easter, Brook