A Silent Saturday

Pilate was surprised to hear that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. – (Mark 15:44-46, NIV)

 

After the devastation of the cross, a faithful few prepared Jesus’ body and buried Him in a tomb. By sun up, it would be the Sabbath, and no one would be going anywhere or doing anything. The disciples and other followers of Jesus likely spent the day in mourning. Meanwhile, the chief priests and the Pharisees were not at all at ease. They went to Pilate because they recalled the words of Jesus, and clearly had concerns about what might transpire in the coming days.

 

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So, give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” – (Matthew 27:63-64, NIV)

 

Consequently, Pilate ordered his guards to make the tomb secure and to stand guard at the tomb. That Saturday, all seemed to be silent. Jewish law kept mourners from moving about and doing much of anything, and I imagine that each of the faithful followers of Jesus retreated to their own homes and pondered all that had transpired in the previous twenty-four hours. It is as if the world stopped spinning, and all were stuck in a silent space of grief and disbelief. For me, knowing the whole story, I am in a space between awe and agony at the weight of all that Jesus bore on my behalf, and the anticipation of celebration, knowing that He conquered death and rose again the very next day.  Today is a space of waiting. Silent reflection and appreciation are what flood my heart and mind. I mourn my own sinfulness, yet overflow with gratitude for the salvation that is granted because He bore it all for me. May we each find our own quiet moments to reflect on the magnitude of what our Maker did for us all as we stay in this space of sacred silence.

 

This day of waiting, A SIlent Saturday

Sabbath long ago;

The Savior, buried,

Seemed hope’s final blow.

The world lay silent,

The Savior was dead;

Where were they to go,

What could have been said?

Silent reflection,

Such grief on that day;

What could have been done,

Unrealized grace.

O painful waiting,

To go to the tomb;

Observe in anguish,

Savior’s seeming doom.

The stillness gave way,

For we know the end;

Death could not hold Him,

As He rose again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to make the way for us to be restored unto You. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin upon Yourself; for we are the ones deserving sanctions of suffering, not You. Forgive us for not fully embracing the weight of what You have done for us, or for questioning whether or not Your sacrifice truly covered it all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive the mercy and grace provided at the cross, and demonstrate our gratitude by living a life that ever seeks Your will. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes the promise that joy comes in the morning no matter how dark the night appears, evident. May many come to embrace the grace that You made possible through Your death and resurrection on this holy weekend so long ago. Be glorified O God, as we set our hearts in silent reflection over all that You did to make us acceptable in Your sight. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22

Because He Loved

Valentine’s Day is an interesting holiday, especially among middle schoolers the day prior. While some students were over-the-moon with excitement, others were nearly manic, as they mourned their mate-less state. Most, however, took it upon themselves as an opportunity to binge on copious quantities of confections, and were bouncing off the walls. The pivotal point that so many get hung up on, is what exactly is love, and how do we celebrate it?

 

If our priorities are kept in place, and we opt to spend the day focusing on loving God and loving people well, then it can be a day worth celebrating, rather than one to view with disdain. One of the most powerful examples of Jesus’ love for us is how He endured all things for our sake, so that we could come to know Him.

 

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked Him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but He can’t save Himself!” – (Mark 15:31)

 

Though Jesus could have saved himself, He endured this suffering because of His love for us. He could have chosen not to take the pain and humiliation; He could have killed those who mocked Him – but He suffered through it all because He loved even His enemies… Jesus died on that cross for us, and the penalty for our sins was paid by His death. – (NIV footnotes for Mark 15:31)

 

Because He loved, we too may love.

 

What beautiful love,Good Gifts

would lay down His life;

choose to sacrifice,

despite all our strife?

He came not because,

we deserved His grace;

but because He loves,

the whole human race.

The sinners and saints,

man, woman and child;

He came for us all,

to be reconciled.

Let us each embrace,

this glorious gift;

go forth and love well,

encourage and lift.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son.  Jesus, thank You that You came to set us free from the chains of our sin, and made the way for us to be restored to a right relationship with You. Thank You that You endured endless suffering on our behalf, because You loved. Forgive us for not choosing to love You and others as we are called to love, or for focusing inward instead of out. Teach us to trust You more, so that as we reach out in faith, we will recognize the remarkable ways in which You provide return to refill our hearts again. Lead us to love well, so that many may come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we bring the blessings of Your love to a world in need. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

He Suffered for Our Sake

At first read, it is easy to feel angered at the chief priests and teachers of the law who mocked Jesus and sentenced Him to death.  However, when one stops to reflect for a moment, there is a realization that all of us are equally responsible for His suffering on the cross.  It was for all of our sins that He willingly chose to die, so that we would have a way to live.

“Jesus could have saved Himself, but He endured the suffering because of His love for us.  He could have chosen not to take the pain and humiliation; He could have killed those who mocked him – but He suffered through it all because He loved even His enemies.  We had a significant part in the drama that afternoon because our sins were on the cross too.  Jesus died on that cross for us, and the penalty for our sins was paid by His death.  The only adequate response we can make is to confess our sin and freely accept the fact that Jesus paid for it so we wouldn’t have to.  Don’t insult God with indifference toward the greatest act of genuine love in history.” – (NIV footnotes for Mark 15:31)

In light of His  great love for us, may we respond passionately to the plans and purposes He has prepared for each of our lives.  Our greatest expression of gratitude is a life that is lived well, loving God and loving people.  As we seek to love as we are loved, we are honoring Him, and demonstrating our appreciation for all that He has done for us.  The more I know Him, the more I long to know.  When I love, I feel His love poured out upon me.  It is amazing how He works, as He blesses each heart with His presence and His peace, as He is earnestly sought.

How great is the grace,He Suffered for Our Sake

that forgives our sin?

How great is the love,

grants new life again?

To choose to endure,

He suffered for me;

the weight of my sin,

He bore on that tree.

Done not just for friends,

but also for foe;

such great love for all,

that daily, He shows.

The sun keeps rising,

the stars shine at night;

beauty surrounds us,

our Father’s delight.

May we give Him thanks,

by choosing love well;

show others His grace,

so they too may tell.

Dear Jesus, thank You for willing enduring such horrendous suffering on the cross, so that we could come to know You.  Thank You that though You could have claimed Your position and authority in that very moment, You chose to suffer for our sake instead.  Thank You does not even begin to scratch the surface for the gratitude our hearts should hold.  Forgive us for forgetting just how significant Your sacrifice was for us, and help us to live accordingly.  May our life be lived in love as an ongoing offering of thanks and praise.  Though we cannot earn nor repay even a fraction of what You have done, we can respond in gratitude everyday by loving You and loving those around us, just as You love us.  Be glorified, O God, in all that we say and do.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Pressed for a Purpose

We pick up again

with imprisoned Paul.

Festus’ arrival –

Jews press for trial.

Oh transfer him please,

they asked him in power.

New plot to ambush,

destroy righteous tower.

Plot that was evil,

was quickly denied.

God-given wisdom,

was Paul’s steady guide.

He knew Jewish law,

and his Roman rights.

To Caesar appealed,

in his freedom fight.

Festus and council,

all stood and agreed.

If Caesar you want,

to Caesar indeed!

A few days later,

the king and his queen,

arrived in that place,

agreed to be seen.

For Festus had shared

the woes of the man,

brought by this Roman,

left too, in his hands.

Elders and chief priests

all stood and accused.

Not the expected,

image by RTI

image by RTI

but of their faith views.

Jerusalem asked,

and swiftly denied.

“To Caesar, please, Sir.”

It was in his right.

The king was intrigued,

and wanted to meet,

this man who stood strong,

wouldn’t accept defeat.

King and queen entered,

with much pomp and show.

Paul shared of the truth,

so they too might know.

(Responding to Acts 25)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your ongoing examples of people who press on, despite tremendous pressure.  Thank You that though there was the threat of losing his life, Paul’s concern was with sharing Your truth before those who knew You not.  Oh to have our priorities aligned accordingly all the time…  Father, thank You that Your Son, Jesus, showed us the ultimate example of selflessness and continued to present Your truth, even as He was hanging on the cross and being mocked by a criminal hanging beside Him.  He found the strength to share His hope with the one who was ready to hear.  Lord, I was to love like that, all the time, unhindered by circumstances – with all that I am.  Forgive us for fixing our eyes on anything other than You.  Empower and equip us to stand strong, even in the storm, so that we may share our hope with those who are starting to sink.  Use us as Your lifelines of truth, so many may come to trust You.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present