Archive | April, 2014

Rolled Away

26 Apr


Every year I learn something new from the Resurrection account.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:1-6

Come, see! How have I never seen it before?!?

The angel rolled the stone away. I’ve known that since I was a child.

Jesus didn’t need the tomb to be opened to get out! He was no longer bound by the physical.

I’ve just assumed (since I was a child) that the angel rolled away the stone to let Jesus out. But He isn’t mentioned – surely if the guards or the women had seen Him exit, the angel wouldn’t have needed to tell the women (the guards, being sturdy stock, missed it due to a fainting spell).

If Jesus was already gone from the tomb, why did the angel roll away the stone?

I have two ideas – neither have been checked out with experts, so I may be way off. However, for what they are worth, here are my ideas.

Heralding a King

When royalty came into a village, criers and guards went first announcing who would be coming down the road. The angel in Matthew 28 fulfills this role for The King – as do the (gasp!) women! God passes the Resurrection news from heavenly being to the ones who had come to honor His Son’s body with spices– culturally inferior messengers, much like the shepherds at His nativity.

Jesus came into the world and conquered death with an announcement from an angel. Fitting for The King!

Rolling Away

The angel makes sense, but what about the stone being rolled away? If Jesus was already gone, the most obvious reason is for others to go in.

My favorite line during our Easter program was from Mary Magdalene when a guard asks her if she had seen the empty tomb. With hushed awe she shares, “I walked inside it!”

The women, and later the disciples (and probably several guards and a commander, too) walked into the chamber where Jesus had lain dead– into the place where the world thought had death won and hope had died. What did they think about when they were inside it? Did they pick up His wrappings? Was it the same as before Jesus was laid there, or had the tomb been changed with the Resurrection?

And what went through their mind as they exited? Did the leave anything in the tomb?

Despair? Hate? Self-righteousness? Doubt?

God removed the barrier so they could go into the tomb– He accomplished the same when He ripped the veil in the temple– and see that he wasn’t a captive to death, that no power could keep him there.

And so we could shed all that confines us from seeing Him.


Ready for Sunday

Imagining myself in the coolness of a stone tomb, slightly musty and very still, I pause, all my senses heightened. I don’t know if Mary took time that morning to take it all in and reflect on what the tomb represented, but two centuries later with 20/20 hindsight, I have the opportunity.

What blocks me from seeing Him?

I’m leaving those things in the pile of grave clothes, and walking out into the fresh morning, heart full and ready to worship.


We GET to….

18 Apr

Img_2599 cropIf you serve in a church (many of my readers do), you have had quite a week. You are undoubtedly tired, maybe exhausted, going into the church’s highest weekend as we celebrate our Savior’s death and resurrection.

The irony isn’t lost – we are tired because our greatest celebration and THE reason we do what we do takes the most work, sacrifice, time, energy, patience, planning, and ____. (Fill in your week’s reality.) Actually, that’s the way it should be!

Sometimes in the celebration, however, it’s easy to forget the why, to lose focus, and begin to resent it all.

At least it is for me.

Since I’m enjoying a couple hours of respite before kicking everything into high gear until mid-afternoon on Easter Sunday, I had time to read this link a co-worker sent me after our long night yesterday.

I’m happy (relieved after reading the post!) to say that we both had good attitudes last night as we locked up the church after working all day, and an hour beyond when the last person left dress rehearsal, to be ready for tonight.

I wish I could say that is always the case for me.

Next time, Mike’s exhortation will be ringing in my ears.

We GET to do this!

And I’d honestly rather be doing NOTHING else this weekend than keeping the stones quiet.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.  Hebrews 13:15-16



Every note, every fader, every strum, every cue, every light, every word… everything is for one reason.  It’s all for you, Jesus.

All of it.




12 Apr

Let Holy Week commence! Extra rehearsals, last-minute duties, extra services, and special programs…. all to celebrate the greatest moment in history!

Tomorrow – Palm Sunday –  we remember Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem.

My writing time was swallowed up by the busy-ness of the past week. So, here is a well-received post from a couple of years ago: the first Palm Sunday with a nod to football.

May we all be changed for having been with Jesus!

Unchanged and not the Same

5 Apr

Highpoint wall

The chapter and verse don’t matter.

During the morning I read a friend’s sermon and planned the songs to close out the worship service later that night.

My cell vibrated just as my friend started preaching. I left the room to take the call from my son. Family trumps ministry for me. (Or maybe I should say that family is my first ministry.)

He was upbeat as he shared he didn’t have a hernia. Instead he has cancer.

We talked a little about treatment and insurance. Since he had just came from a series of medical appointments, he didn’t have many details yet. But he does have cancer.

I went back to the service and to the sermon– the same sermon but not the same.

It could have been any chapter and verse. The point is that my circumstances changed, and I was now listening to the same sermon I had read a couple of hours earlier from a different perspective.

What I found was that the Truth remained unchanged. Even though I heard it through being in a different place in life, the foundation was still solid.

Nothing about my new circumstances changes the Truth of God.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In a world where changes happen faster than anyone can comprehend, this alone is reason to worship God.



Before leading a song about God’s faithfulness that night, I shared my news – not for shock effect (although people were shocked!), but to give glory to God for his unchangeable truth even in– especially in– my changed circumstances

Interestingly, the sermon text was John 17, specifically he was on verses 1-5 about giving God glory. I came back from my phone call to hear my friend say: “You have to choose to give God glory. Jesus didn’t receive glory for his own sake, but in order that the Father would be glorified. If we don’t choose to glorify God, we take God’s glory for ourselves.”

When all else is upside-down and backwards, giving God glory turns me upright. I focus on his power, not my situation, putting my sites on his unchanging Truth when life is disorienting.

Much like a lighthouse anchors every direction in a ship captain’s soul when waves have turned the ship around and tossed the compass overboard, God is steady. He is with us through the turbulence, and he is also above the chaos.

I worship him for this. And even when I am wind-whipped, I can lead others to him.

He is constant.



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