Gift #610: Easter Questions

A few weeks at church a quote from a well-known Christian pastor and speaker was used in our sermon.

If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the
friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?

I was rather taken aback by the question posed above.  This seemed about as logical as asking “if you could have all the warmth and light without the sun, would you still want the sun?”  Of course you can not divorce the attributes of the sun from the sun itself.  It’s a package deal – if you want the light and the warmth, you must necessarily choose the sun.  If you want the sun, you must accept the light and warmth.  Likewise, if the sun loses its warmth and light, it is no longer a sun.  The same is true with the quote posed above.  You cannot have all the pleasures listed above without God – it is He that makes them all possible.  They exist because God exists.  And without God, they cease to be a reality. The history of our world bears witness to this – the introduction of sin and the decision to turn away from God led to the corruption of eternal beauty, human conflict, natural disasters.  As with the sun analogy, we don’t have the option of choosing God or His gifts – we must choose both or neither.  Such dichotomy of God suggested by the quote above is not a choice.

In light of Resurrection Sunday tomorrow, I have found greater joy and truth in rephrasing the quote above to ask a more relevant question.  Indeed, the answer to this question determines the fate of the world.

“If God could have all heaven, with no sickness, all the pleasure, beauty, and worship of eternity without the fellowship of people He created -would He be satisfied?”

The glorious message of Easter is that He answered a resounding “NO!”  He would not be satisfied!   He would set aside His claims of heaven and enter earth as a man, taking the full weight of sin and God’s judgement against it; and He would endure separation from the Godhead to unite us in Him.  Tomorrow we will celebrate an empty cross and tomb as the living proof that not sin, not hate, not death, nothing in the past or the future, no power on earth or heaven can keep God from His people.  He will stop at nothing until He wins our hearts.  What a glorious God to celebrate tomorrow and every day after!

Blessings to you,
Sarah

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Gift #609: Good Friday

For Good Friday today I’ll share one of my favorite passages from Isaiah, one of the prophets to Israel during the Old Testament period.  I love the way this scripture foreshadows the spiritual implications of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  On that day He defeated sin and death, freeing us and restoring us to fellowship with Him.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
    He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
    “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  Isaiah 25:6-9

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #608: Maundy Thursday

Happy Maundy Thursday!  It’s not often that we get to use that greeting, so I like to take advantage of it when it comes around.  “Maundy” is such an unusual word, don’t you MTthink?  It sound old and mysterious, like an ancient word written on dusty scrolls long forgotten.   (This is a complete aside, but I just read that another name for Maundy Thursday is “Thursday of Mysteries”)  It’s the day that the Church celebrates the Last Supper of Christ and His disciples.  I read on Wikipedia that the origin of the word “maundy” is from French and Latin translation of the command Christ gave to His apostles:  “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another.”  Because of this, Maundy Thursday is also known as Covenant Thursday.

At the Passover meal Christ shared with His disciples before His crucifixion, He laid out the paradigm shift that was about to shake the world.  The Jews had been defined by their covenant relationship with Yaweh, the God of Israel, since the days of their forefather Abraham.  This covenant was renewed with the eating of the first Passover meal as the nation prepared to leave Egypt.  For generation and generations after, the nation remembered their salvation from slavery and their covenant with God by the Passover meal and a sacrifice to cover their sins.  On the night that Christ partook of this meal with His followers, He was keenly aware that He would be soon be the ultimate sacrifice for the sin of the world and His death would free us from the slavery of sin.  He was the fulfillment of the original Passover.  The old was making way for the new.  That night Christ established a New Covenant.  God sought intimacy with His people, but this time it would not be through the law, but through Himself.  With Christ’s death on the cross, God removed every barrier to be with us.  No longer would we need temples, sacrifices, and laws to be near Him.  God would make His home with us, He would be the final sacrifice, and His love and Spirit would transform our hearts.

The best explanation of the New Covenant I’ve ever heard came from a short story by the Victorian Scottish author, George MacDonald.  In “The Gifts of the Christ Child” MacDonald describes the transformation of a father-daughter relationship.  The young child was accustomed to eating at a separate table from her father.  But by the end of the story, the walls between father and child were eradicated and the father picks up the daughter in her chair and moves her to the same table.  This is really what the New Covenant is all about – it’s not fancy theology at all.  It’s God picking us up, chair and all, and moving us to His table, to sit next to Him.  And how fitting that Christ would initiate this New Covenant at the table, while having dinner with those He loved.  It’s an invitation to join Him at the table, because a seat is always open.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #607: Easter Cards

Hello everyone!  I hope you are all enjoying some spring weather in your neck of the woods.  We’re back on a warming trend after our recent freeze.  A few of the trees look a bit worse for the wear, but I hope they’ll recover.  As it is almost Easter Sunday I thought I’d share a sampling of the Easter cards I created this year.  They went out in the post over the weekend.  This year I used a brightly patterned palette, in contrast to the more pastel, subtle tones I’ve used in the past.  The paper is from a collection called Que Sera Sera by K&C Co.  They released it years ago and I bought several paper pads so that I wouldn’t run out for a long, long time.  It’s one of the most beautiful paper sets I’ve seen.  I used stamps and the tag punch from Stampin Up again (that punch is getting lots of use).  And of course, I needed a doily to give the card a bit of frill – it is Easter after all.  Little butterflies add the finishing touch.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #606: Tulip Tree

One of the greatest joys I found upon moving to Indy was the abundance of tulip trees.  I had never seen anything like them before.  We had magnolia trees (which are a close relative) in Texas, but I didn’t much like them.  Tulip trees however are a completely different story.  I adore them, and a stand of them in bloom automatically makes me a road hazard as I can’t keep my eyes off them.  The chalice-shaped blooms are creamy white on the inside and painted rouge on the outside of the petals, lending a delicate pink tint to the blooms when viewed from a distance.  The large blossoms are certainly a bold statement that spring is here.  Yesterday I noticed that a stand of tulip trees at work had started to bud and they were gorgeous.  So I brought my ipad today to get some pictures.

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My delight at the emerging buds on the trees has turned to horror because we’ve had another cold snap and we’re having a couple of nights with lows below freezing.  It even snowed for most of the day, though nothing much accumulated.  I’ve considered the feasibility of renting very tall ladders or helicopters to toss large tarps over the trees so their buds will be protected.  Turns out that wasn’t a feasible plan at all.   The few trees that have led spring to our area are now in danger of losing their beautiful blooms before spring has even started.  I do pray that they aren’t too damaged by the cold and will continue to open their buds and bless up with their beauty.

Even if not though, it was worth it for today.  Such beauty!

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #605: Palm Sunday

In honor of Palm Sunday, today’s post is my favorite poem.

“The Donkey”

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

– GK Chesterton

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #604: Hellebores revisited

It’s been a while since I posted about the beautiful hellebores I now share my home with, so I thought I’d share a few more pictures of how they’re coming along.  I had another photo shoot with them not long before they moved outside to their new home beneath the trees.  I hope they will do well there.  I rather miss them being inside where I can see them all the time,  but I’ve made sure to visit them at least once a day and tell them how beautiful they are.  They in turn have promised to join me for a picnic once the weather warms.  How lovely it will be to have dinner under the shade of a tree and in the company of the lovely hellebores!

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Ps.  If you click on the third picture to get an enlarged view, you’ll find a little visitor was on the hellebore flower when I took the shot.  I didn’t even see him till I was editing the photo!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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