Tag: Cross

Her eyes rimmed red as tears began to form. He sat in silence, empty of feeling having poured them out. Again.

It was quiet in Jenny’s office as we sat with our feelings, our pain. Another fatal overdose. Another life lost. Another friend, son, brother, gone. He was 28.

These times when we’ve poured ourselves out, when we feel empty of caring, these are the times we question: Is this where I should be?

I know we follow a Savior who emptied himself out but we are not him. We need a constant filling. So we gather in an office or take a walk in the bright sunshine. We pull close to another who understands this pain and we ask together if we can handle death’s sting.

Maybe this is the cross Jesus said we needed to carry.

We look for endless blessings and joy, the kind that doesn’t hurt, the kind that keeps us bubbling over. Somehow we have this notion that this is the life of following Jesus. It’s not. It may be a glimpse of heaven but on earth it’s fleeting.

That wasn’t the end of sorrow for me this week. More would come, Family would face unexpected life threatening illness and a mom would wonder how much more. It would continue to feel like a week of trials and questions we’re afraid to say out loud.

It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming. Resurrection Sunday is coming and we will proclaim:

He is risen.
HE IS RISEN INDEED

But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new;
    a servant in form
    and a man indeed.
The very likeness of humanity,
He humbled Himself,
    obedient to death—
    a merciless death on the cross!
So God raised Him up to the highest place
    and gave Him the name above all.

Philippians 2:7-9 VOICE

faith Five-Minute Friday hope recovery

art journal

This painting is a mistake. It’s not what I set out to do.

We go to this place in North Carolina every summer. There is an old stone chapel with a stone cross on top. I’ve many photo’s of it as the setting is not only beautiful but conveys a deep sense of peace. I wanted to sketch it but I messed up. I drew lines where there weren’t suppose to be and suddenly it wasn’t what i wanted. But I didn’t want to give up. I’m trying to expand my vision of art, my abilities which have mostly been to copy, as closely as possible, whatever model I’m using. I need to push myself but the pushing is marked with hesitation and doubt.

Looking at the final outcome of this project gone wrong, I thought of the mistakes I make daily in life. And I thought of the cross that covers all of those mistakes. The cross that inflicted punishment and pain to the least deserving is the cross that erases my mistakes, that paints over them with colors of grace.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

faith

We work in good and bad.

We meet each Tuesday around the table with our Production staff. How are donations? How are sales? These two things vital to our providing for the 99 men in our Center.

Thursdays we meet in the same room, around the same tables with our Program staff discussing the residents, new men, periodic reviews, those who left and why.

30, 60 and 90 days their file is brought up and the questions asked:

Appearance and neatness? Work therapy? Recovery program?

Our answers range from poor and fair to good and, at times, excellent.

Our days are filled with casual conversations about how this man looked so bad when he came in or how good this other man is doing in his program. Good and bad aren’t academic or professional terms but they are the everyday language between staff to which we know the deeper meaning.

We recognize the good because we have seen the bad.

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Is that why today is called Good Friday? We know the accounts of Jesus’ mercy and grace, of the great love he showed to the forgotten and outcasts. He showed what good really is in the life he lived and showing us this good reveals the bad. It reveals my bad.

There’s a verse that talks about wherever sin is grace will be more. Wherever the bad and ugly, the wrong and unjust, in the midst of that grace will be deeper. It seems without the bad, we don’t see good.

It’s hard for me to be completely mournful on Good Friday because I know the anguish of the bad he suffered. But the good that is coming….that is the cross to which we cling. The one stained by his blood of sacrifice. The cross He left empty in his victory over death, victory over life. His ever lasting victory over good and bad because we have been redeemed.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and word loving bloggers to spill out unedited words for five minutes on the prompt she provides. Join the party!

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It’s hard to find silver crosses, the kind you wear around your neck. I wore a gold one for years because it’s what mama sent me and it was simple, the style I like. I remember when our home church got a makeover and the cross that hung on the stage was transformed from a simple fashioned cross to one resembling a bookmark. It was framed with molding and a contrasting color in the middle, the cross now fastened to the wall against this red. It took some getting used to.

The chapel in our Center underwent renovations and it was the cross that drew questions. When there was no cross in sight the first few weeks the men asked.

The hymn sings about a rugged cross and I suppose it was. It wasn’t for looks but utilitarian purposes. What did you need other than wood strong enough to hold the weight of a man, hold the weight of a people?

Holy Land Tour  claims of being on the site of the birth of Christ

Holy Land Tour  claims of being on the site of the birth of Christ

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present day Golgotha
present day Golgotha

There was a hillside where these public executions took place. In Jerusalem it was Golgotha, the place of the skull. Today, this hill sits above a bus terminal with a Muslim cemetery on top of it. It still sits high over an area, an area one can picture hoards of people gathering, crosses situated where everyone could get an unobstructed view.

Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, we focused on the palm branches and the people waving them or placing them on the ground for Jesus’ entry as they called out, “Hosanna!” Later we will focus on the bread and wine of the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples but already it’s the cross that occupies my thoughts. It’s symbol looms large as the shadow is cast.

Jesus says all who follow him must carry their cross too. It sounds harsh and I work to reconcile it with his promise to help carry our burdens. I wonder about the crosses we carry and the times we let them press us down as we try to carry it alone. I see many who carry the cross of addiction. It’s an easy one to see like the crosses atop the high steeples. Some of us tuck our crosses inside our collar, behind our shirts, trying to hide the weight dragging us down. It’s so much easier to disguise gossip as concern or depression as just a rough time that will pass. This cross called an emblem of suffering and shame doesn’t have to be the suffering that will kill us. We don’t have to die on our cross because Jesus did that on his. 

It’s a song I haven’t heard in years but the words came to mind today:

The cross is not greater than his grace

Our sin, is not ever, greater than his grace.

 

faith hope photography

It was that year, the year I was searching a bit, stretching into a new journey. I’d claimed my faith the summer before, held it as my own, no longer accepting the hand-me-down faith from my parents. So when I saw that crucifix hanging in the seaside shop on a weekend with my cousins, when I saw that bold statement not part of our faith tradition I bought it. Life was different, I was different and this was bold. For me.

No telling what daddy would have said but he wasn’t there, he’d left mama and she was the less reactive one. She was calm when she said, ‘we believe He [Jesus] isn’t on the cross anymore.’ And that made sense. Perfect sense really so I didn’t wear that crucifix much after that. No problems with the symbol but if I wanted to be bold I would be bold at saying that cross didn’t hold him then and it doesn’t hold him now.

But it is the cross, that cross with its promise and shame, that claims attention this week of the passion of Christ.

My friend, Cindy, over at Mama’s Empty Nest, is telling the story through her photography and I hope you’ll stop over to her place.  I keep telling my story with too many words and should take a cue from Cindy but we follow our hearts.

It’s a story about a cross because that’s where it all changed. A cross designed for slow death, a criminals death. A cross that held death but could not contain it. Let’s begin.

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Holy Land Tour

 

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taken by Tampa

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photography