Good Friday–Remembering Christ’s immense love

Christians observe Good Friday today.

I find myself pondering what tremendous love God has for each one of us, and all of us together, one gigantic family of humanity.

Candles--palm--Were you there--Julie McCarty

Whether your life is full of joy now or weighed down with sadness, grief, or loneliness, I totally believe that God loves you, just as you are. God’s compassion and mercy is held out, as a gift, to all of humanity, to every single human, and that includes YOU.

You and I may not “feel” this love at all times (it’s only natural!). However, that love radiates out to us, nonetheless.  If I care about you so much, I totally believe that God cares about you much, much more… immensely, infinitely more!

My words are few today.  What can I say when all falls silent, hushed before the immense beauty and mystery of God’s love for you, for me, for all of us?

Until next time, Amen!


Jesus, Barabbas, and Mob Mentality

But they all cried out together, “Away with this man and release to us Barabbas”—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!”    —Luke 23:18-21.

When I was young, my church began to read the story of Christ’s passion in group format on Palm Sunday. At first, I thought it was rather exciting to be included in reading the gospel aloud—that is, until I realized that we were given the part of the angry mob that chose Barabbas over Jesus.  I hated saying the words, “Crucify him!” In my child’s mind, I thought, I certainly don’t want Jesus on that cross. Why do I have to read this?

Today, when I read this bible passage I think to myself how often I have indeed chosen “Barabbas” over Jesus over the course of my life–not literally of course, but in terms of the many times I have chosen something over or against the ways of Christ.

When we ignore the cries of the poor, we choose “Barabbas” over Jesus. When we refuse to own up to our responsibility for our actions, we choose Barabbas. When we prefer lording over others instead of servant-leadership, we choose Barabbas. When we allow any group, be it a political group, workplace team, media, or social group, push us to act against the teachings of Christ, we choose Barabbas. At times, we may become part of the angry mob of a nation that turns against Jesus, calling for his crucifixion.

Holy Week is a good time to remember that we are all sinners—we all fall short in many ways. It is a good time to ask God for forgiveness, with a humble heart, recognizing our need for the Holy Spirit to guide us in the future. We can trust that Jesus, who willingly suffered on the cross for our salvation, will lead us into newer, better ways of living.

Will you pray with me? . . . .  Lord, help us to be more aware of our sins and failings– and to truly repent of them. I especially ask your forgiveness for …  Please forgive all our sins and help us to trust in your mercy. Pour out your Spirit upon us, so that no matter what the angry mob says or does, we might live more like Jesus. Amen.

 Yes, until next time, Amen.

The Veil Torn in Two–Removing Obstacles in the Spiritual Life

After the long winter, it was good to see the ground again, even if the grass was flat and brown. One recent Saturday, when the only snow left was a couple of mountains near our driveway, my husband Terry spread the snow out across the lawn to speed up the melting. He said he wanted the exercise of shoveling and, after all, it felt good to get outside in the fresh spring air.

Secretly, I thought it wasn’t necessary, but I understood well the desire to be done with winter. Besides, I knew there were flower bulbs underneath that giant snow pile by the mailbox, and I thought perhaps we might see some blossoms a little bit sooner if the thick veil of snow was removed.

We were in for a big surprise: the very next morning, little shoots were peeking out of the soil. I still can’t get over it. How can a bulb that is several inches beneath the surface, and just the day before also beneath a couple feet of snow, push its way to the surface in less than 24 hours?

This experience made me think of the many obstacles, like mountains of snow, that sometimes block spiritual growth or the deepening of our relationship with God. We may have certain behaviors in our lives that are sinful, or bad habits that keep us from our maximum potential. Soft addictions (see my March 24 post) may keep us occupied in ways that prevent us from having the time for more productive activities or more attentive prayer lives.

But it is not God’s desire that anything keep us apart from the divine presence. In upcoming days, Christians throughout the world will be meditating on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We read in Matthew’s gospel that at the moment when Jesus released his spirit and died upon the cross

 . . . the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised(Matthew 27:51-52).

This curtain was the veil that hung between the general worship space of the temple and the Holy of Holies, the place where the Ark of the Covenant with the Ten Commandments was kept. The Holy of Holies was the place in which God dwelt in a special way–so special that only the High Priest could enter this sacred room, and then only on one day each year, on the Day of Atonement.

Some Scripture commentators write that the tearing of the veil of the temple at the time of Jesus’ death symbolizes the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant. Another interpretation–the one I like best–is that Christ’s sacrificial death transformed the way we humans relate to God. Christ removes the obstacles between God and us.

Christ is our high priest whose own sacrifice “tears the veil away,” making it possible for us to approach God directly in prayer. Christ removes the many obstacles in our lives that keep us from growing in love and service.

The more these obstacles are removed, the more the light of God will shine on us, so that each of us will grow into creations as beautiful as the flowers that bloom in spring.

Until next time, Amen!

P.S. If you are receiving this in e-mail subscription, it is always allowable to forward it to a friend. –Julie McCarty, author of the Spiritual Drawing Board,