Tag Archives: Easter

“Cultivation”…

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My life is full of a lot of very good things right now. After I count down from my husband and three vibrant children, there is an elementary school musical, my writing (that is just humming along), and my job. I count myself fortunate that I get to call my job, my ministry, too, and the stellar team of people who are my coworkers, my close friends.

You can find one of my coworker’s blog at aslanslibrary.wordpress.com. (Sarah, can you see me?)

She’s rather brilliant and we share an ambition for creating new beautiful things. If we can’t find something we like our mantra is “write our own”! Over Christmas we created our own Jesse Tree devotional. She wrote the words and I drew the icons to go on the twenty-four paper ornaments leading up to Christmas.

For Lent we are working on a prayer booklet. Praying together as a church, everything we do tries to cover the broad range between families and singles, children and adults. For adults, the booklet alone, for families we printed the prayers on dark purple strips of paper for children to make chains with over the forty days.

The cover of the prayer booklet has been a conundrum. I had contacted a friend that has some amazing stations of the cross prints, but he couldn’t scan them in time. Words alone would work. It would be fine. But I love images. And I had already staunchly stated that I would NOT be doing any artwork for it.

But, as I was proofreading our Children’s Ministry newsletter, I read Sarah’s beautiful words:

“Many of us find prayer difficult or downright discouraging: are we doing it right? How do you find time, anyway? It doesn’t feel like anything is happening! My children are wiggling, I’m distracted, and honestly it feels more productive to get up and empty the dishwasher. And yet: it is in prayer — the messy, uncomfortable, imperfect spaces we carve out and share with God — that the Creator of the universe settles in close and breathes new life into us. When we pray, we remember again that we are creatures, dependent on the one who made us. Prayer is the fertile ground out of which all of our action grows.”

Perhaps it was the word “carve” or the image of “fertile ground”, at any rate, I began to consider this print. I drew it over and over until I understood it. And then I managed to find a couple of hours in this crazy long weekend to carve it out.

Here is “Cultivation”. It is six layers of soil, like the six Sundays of Lent, laid out on top of each other in preparation for the new life of Eastertide. It is also the desert of Jesus’ forty days of prayer (see the five stones?) before the action of ministry. Together in Lent we will journey with Jesus to Jerusalem (see Jerusalem up there in the corner?) accompanying God’s “upside-down king — who says NO to power and glory, who helps lost people find their way home, who surrounds himself with people who are humble and unimportant” (more of Sarah’s words!) to claim a cross that looks nothing like the throne we would want or expect.

cultivation-print-image

Mother Mary Easter Monologue…

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I was there at the start. Jesus was my firstborn son. Before his blood was spilled for me mine spilled for him. Before his body broke for me, mine tore for him. My son. His life changed mine first. I was the first miracle.

And how could I be under the delusion that he was mine? Angels announced his birth to shepherds. A star led kings halfway around the world. He was for Israel, for the world.

But who would believe? Doesn’t every mother think her first-born walks on water? So I treasured these things in my heart, storing away the portents.

I was there when every prophecy came true, born of David, coming out of Egypt, of Nazareth in Galilee. Every truth buried here (heart).

And when we lost him in Jerusalem… For three days we misplaced the son of God. “Didn’t you know I would be in my father’s house”, the words of God from my son’s lips. “He is not yours precious Mary, he is mine. Remember he is mine.”

We waited thirty years for his time. And then it came in a flood. Miracle by miracle adding testimony to the years of evidence, here (heart).

Hadn’t I always believed, me, the first apostle? He was the Messiah.

Never mine, not from the beginning. He was God’s to spend.
But when they nailed him… When my son let them nail him to the cross…

I watched him die, in agony, under a criminal’s shame. If his father above, Creator of the heavens, feels a shadow of my pain why does he not save him? Why?! I cannot bear it! I’ve changed my mind, God, select another. Must I bear witness to this, too? My heart is full, Lord, my heart is full!

I spent three days in a mother’s grief. And then we went to dress my son’s body for the last time.

There’s nothing that gets old about seeing an angel. I’ve seen two in my life. The first told me I would have a son. The second told me I had a savior.

Would anything less than falling at his feet, feeling the warmth of his life, the strength in his hands, his glorious smell, would anything less prove my son’s living to me? My heart is full, Jehovah God, my heart is full!

I had a lifetime, my son’s lifetime, of proof giving testimony. The Messiah had come. Death had been conquered by one sacrifice for sin for all time. Israel’s need had nailed him to that cross. My need had nailed him to that cross.

He was my son, he was my savior. He was never mine. But he was for me.

Christ is Risen…

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Christ is risen!

I spread the white tablecloth last night, a particular sacrifice when I know jam, strawberries, and chocolates are the order for breakfast. I made flaky orange scones studded with cranberries which are a tradition I’ve adopted from my husband’s childhood. There was a smattering of jelly beans across the tablecloth and in the middle I placed our lent box, cross upright, black cloth banished.

Happy Easter!

Easter Sunday: He is Risen Indeed!

Where to find it:
A Child’s First Bible: p.232
Jesus Storybook Bible: p.310 “God’s wonderful surprise”
Bible: Luke 24:1-9

Reading:
Today is Easter Sunday. Do you remember how happy God was when his baby son was born, he told everyone! He sent angels to the shepherds and a star to the wiseman. On Easter morning he sent an angel again. The angel gave them the good news, “He is not here, he is risen just as he said!” And then Jesus himself went to his friends. He even ate breakfast with them to show them that he was really alive again. Jesus had beaten death, and death couldn’t win anymore where Jesus was. Just like death cannot hold you when you have Jesus in you.

There is a special thing we say on Easter morning. We say it three times, once for each day that Jesus lay dead in the tomb. I say “Christ is Risen!” and you respond with “He is risen indeed!” Let’s do it now!

“Christ is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
“Christ is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
“Christ is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”

Lent box activity:
The black item over the cross can be removed prior to Sunday morning. When the morning dawns the purple cloth or construction paper sash is already over the cross. If you like, you can take turns tracing the path from the Nativity to the cross past the tokens in their order.

Beginning questions:
What’s your favorite part of the Easter story?
What’s the most confusing part of the Easter story?

More questions:
What is the part of the Easter story that’s the hardest to believe?

Family question:
What is our best family Easter tradition?

Family Activity:
Go to Easter services and rejoice!

Family Prayer:
“Risen Lord, thank you for beating death. Thank you for your rescue plan that lets us be close to you again. Thank you for living in our hearts so that we do not need to fear any more. Help us to know that when you look at us you see Jesus. Thank you for being our brother, Jesus. Thank you for being our Father, God. Praise the Lord! He is risen indeed! Amen”

Holy Saturday…

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Happy Holy Saturday to you all. I have a friend who takes down all the paintings in her front room on Good Friday. She removes all the beauty. On Easter morning they all get put back up. We did our Good Friday activity last night and laid a black cloth over our Lent box … until tomorrow.

Holy Saturday: Prayer in the Darkness

Where to find it:
A Child’s First Bible: p.226 (Peter’s Denial)
Jesus Storybook Bible: There is no story for this lesson. You can read just p.326, the first page of “God sends help” which is the intro to Pentecost.
Bible: Matthew 26:56, Mathew 26:69-75

Reading:
Today is Holy Saturday. Jesus died and was buried in the tomb. His followers scattered. His apostles hid in a dark room and cried. They were terribly sad. Their friend Jesus had died. They didn’t understand. Where had God’s amazing rescue plan gone? They were supposed to be saved, weren’t they? And now what? They were too sad and too scared to eat or sleep. So, they waited in the darkness, praying.

Lent box activity:
Have a family member place the tea light or small candle in the sand. Have a parent light the candle before you pray.

Beginning question:
When have you felt sad or scared?

More questions:
Have you ever been too sad or scared to eat or sleep?
Is there any part of you that feels like it is hiding in darkness?

Family question:
What was the best part and hardest part of Lent this year?

Family Activity:
Take an extra special time to pray. Pray for each family member in their spots of darkness. Ask that Jesus would bring light into these dark places. If you like, you could go to bed in darkness to prepare yourselves for the light of Easter morning.

Pray as a family:
“Dear Heavenly Father we thank you that you will not leave us sad or scared forever. We thank you that you have come to make all the sad things come undone. We pray that your beauty and new life would come quickly to us. We ask that your kingdom would come to our hearts and make them new. We ask that your kingdom would come to the Earth and make all creation new again, like it was in the beginning. Thank you for this promise, Amen.”

Good Friday…

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Today is Good Friday. After a night spent getting up five times with two kids for things they could’ve got themselves I find myself looking forward to the dim of the service. I also find myself wondering if I will fall asleep. Holy day to you all.

Here is the lent box activity for today:

Good Friday: The Cross

Where to find it:
A Child’s First Bible: p.230
Jesus Storybook Bible: p.302 “The sun stops shining”
Bible: Mark 15:33-39, Hebrews 10:11-14

Reading:
Today is Good Friday. Jesus was arrested like a criminal. Less than a week ago the people of Jerusalem were yelling, “Hosanna!” Now they were yelling, “Crucify him!” When Adam and Eve discovered they were naked, God killed a lamb and made them clothes. God’s people needed clothes again, but not for their bodies. This time they needed something to cover the shame of their hearts. Jesus was the perfect lamb that died to cover our sins. And when he died there was a mighty earthquake in Jerusalem and the temple curtain that kept the unholy and dirty people away from God’s holy place was ripped apart from top to bottom. There was no separation between us and God anymore. It was accomplished. Jesus died.

Lent box activity:
Have a family member place the nail, the token for Good Friday, in the sand. Lay the black cloth or fold the black construction paper over the cross to signify Jesus’ death. Place the container where the black cloth can be visible until Easter morning.

Beginning questions:
When do you feel close to God?
When can you talk to God?

More questions:
When have you felt far away from God?

Family Question:
How can we help each other to be closer to God?

Pray as a family:
“Crucified Lord, thank you for not running away from the difficult days of the cross. How great is your love for us that you would die for us while we were still sinners. Help us to take up our crosses every day. And let those behaviors and attitudes that you don’t like die in us. Help us to know deeper and wider how big your love is. Thank you for dying on a cross so that we could be near you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”