Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

The stone

“Mirror of the Passion” devotion for April 16, 2020. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

And Joseph rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:60)

Impressive. All the art work I’ve seen shows the stone in front of the tomb as at least a thousand pound hunk of rock. Joseph rolled it there? Whoa, this guy’s in better shape than me.

The stone was meant to keep people out, right? Or was it to keep Jesus in? All of the above? I don’t know.

All we know is that the stone was in place on Saturday. On Friday it was open, til they laid the body of Jesus there. On Sunday, when the women showed up, the stone had been rolled away. On Saturday, the stone was doing its job, sealing up the entrance to the tomb.

How do you respond to a locked door? Walk away? Look for another way in? Jiggle the doorknob, hoping it will somehow open? Check the windows? Do you accept the reality? Or look for an alternative?

Saturday is one of those days. It feels like nothing is going to happen. It’s a done deal. Your hopes and dreams aren’t going anywhere. Monday will come soon enough. Back to the routine. Same old same old.

If they only knew. If they only knew what was happening behind that stone. If they only remembered Jesus’ words about resurrection and life. If they only knew what was happening in the dark. If they only saw the scene in hell. If they only knew what the women would find on Sunday morning.

We don’t know what’s happening behind the stone walls, behind the scenes, behind what seems to be unmovable obstacles in our lives. These are places we cannot go. But these are the places where the most important things are happening.

Just wait til Sunday morning. Just wait til the sun comes up. Just wait til you wake up. The biggest, unmovable assumptions of your life won’t be a problem any more.

That’s the power of resurrection.

So maybe this is Saturday. Maybe you’re stuck. Maybe you have no place to go. There is a big rock in the way. Maybe there is nothing you can do. Just wait. The sun will set. The sun will rise. And it will be a new day. It will be Sunday. And all of those worries will fade like the morning dew.

I’ll wait, Lord. I know the new day is just a few moments away.

Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

Images of death

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for April 7, 2022. Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. (Luke 23:55)

Sometimes it’s a hot, sunny afternoon. Other times a chilling rain falls. Dozens may be there to watch. Or just a few stick around. Some have laid a rose on the casket. A cemetery worker winds a crank to lower the coffin into the vault. A few will throw some ceremonial handfuls of dirt into the grave. Or they will slide the urn into its niche. On occasion, I have dropped remains into a waterway or let the wind blow the ashes across a marsh. We watch as a friend, a loved one, or a stranger is laid to rest.

How do you feel in that moment? Sad? Empty? Numb? Relieved? All of the above? Do you think the women who came with Jesus from Galilee had any idea their week would end like this? I doubt it. Jesus had never been more popular. Crowed hailed him as the next king. He restored the temple to a house of prayer. Next up: restore the kingdom to Israel!

Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus’ body in linen. They laid his corpse in Joseph’s tomb. It was over. A terrible, very bad Friday was over. How could they ever forget that sight?

We consume many images of death each day. We drive by cemeteries. News reports show us mangled car crashes, the rubble of collapsed buildings, scenes from war, storm-flattened towns, candlelight vigils, and roadside memorials. Reporters tell us about the viruses, food, pollution, safety hazards, and storms that threaten our lives.

How do you feel in these moments? The feelings only graze me; I’m too busy to dwell on it. I get annoyed; everything out there is bad for me. I look away; I don’t want to see the carnage.

So many want to watch. Traffic slows to see the overturned car surrounded by rescue vehicles. Neighbors wander to the curb when the ambulance stops in front of a house down the street. Large audiences watch live broadcasts of celebrity funerals. So many watched as Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb.

After a movie, I like to stick around to see the bonus trailer. A little sneak peak of a sequel. I want to tell the women who came from Galilee that same thing. Stick around a little longer. If you think Jesus’ death and burial were unexpected, just wait til Sunday morning!

I see so much death, Lord. Open my eyes to see life, too.