Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday 2012

My earliest memory of Easter was of course an Egg Hunt. And it was all a bit sad by today’s standards; yes, as a 4 year old I remember stumbling around a school playing field looking for a chocolate egg, though I had never tasted one and had no idea what to look for - post-war sweet rationing had only recently ended. Anyway, I scrabbled around until eventually finding a hard-boiled egg and that was most confusing. Only one fortunate person found the real thing and the rest of us got an invite to the Easter Church Service. For sure times have changed, but the message of Easter hasn’t and never will!

But really, what is Easter all about? For sure, the most important Christian festival, so we make a special effort in Church and nowadays the kids all get chocolate. Then, of course, on Good Friday we expect to be reminded of the most important event in the history of the world… the message of The Cross. And Easter Sunday we remember the equally important resurrection story. Oh yes, that’s a story worth telling, and I’m sure it will be; but I’ve been asking the Lord for something specifically personal to share. As a new Christian, 30 years ago, I had a particularly special relationship with my Father in heaven. We cried and laughed together as I took my early steps as a believer; but over time the Son of God, Jesus Christ, became the focus of my attention and I lost sight of the Father. I began to see Him more as Almighty God, surrounded by the glory of heaven and totally disconnected from my everyday life. You don’t get that many seraphim and cherubim wandering around Sainsbury’s on a Tuesday morning! But then the Lord showed me something…

There were a couple of days last year forever imprinted upon my heart. A very special time, though unbelievably sad. One evening, as I was caring for my cancer stricken wife I had to move her, and was privileged to have one final ‘dance’. She put her arms around my neck as I lifted and we sort of swung around for a minute as her bedding was straightened. She was even wearing her favourite perfume! The next morning, the overnight palliative care nurse went home, and my four adult children joined me in our lounge, spending one final time with their lovely mother, my best friend for almost forty years. The sun was out and the birds were singing as I knelt by her side and she slowly breathed her last. I then held her hand as her always strong heartbeat gradually slowed to a stop. The peace of God was absolutely tangible as my true love took her place in eternity. It was a perfect moment.

My Heavenly Father experienced personal loss in a far more painful way. His Son was falsely accused, convicted and then executed. Rather than rescuing Him, He stood aside with perfect self-control. Our Lord Jesus, the embodiment of perfect love, then embraced every evil the world has ever seen. Darkness, not seen since the creation of the world, descended upon the land, and the wrath of God was poured out upon His own Son. The eternal and perfect unity of the Godhead was, in some mysterious way, broken; the price paid, for our restoration and forgiveness… yes, my Heavenly Father truly knows personal loss in a way that I can never begin to understand.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.’ (NLT)

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