Sunday, March 31, 2013

how great thou art

I was asked to contribute to a devotional series based around holy week {you can see all of them here}.  this is what I wrote.

so I've decided that I got the worst day to have to write about:  the grand finale.  the biggest deal in the christian calendar.  the super bowl of christian holidays.  no lead up, no nothing.  just the main event.  easter sunday.

and in preface to writing this, as a systematic rule breaker/bender, I don't like tight guidelines.  so I can guarantee as you read this, it's not going to be a quiet reflection of the memory of a great day in history.  nope.  I'm going to blast this one open in fine style.  the grand finale deserves some good champagne.  and I am going to try to honour that.  okay, well theologically speaking, it's not even really the grand finale.  more like the end of the second act, but y'all know what I mean, right?

I've also chosen not to focus on a specific scripture, but on two words:  grace and restoration.  neither of those words turn up in the verses that describe the resurrection, but they are weaved into the interconnectedness of this most holy week.  and perhaps the person that has always grabbed me the most is peter.  maybe because I am peter.

you all know the story.  peter effed up.  big time.  he betrays christ.  and at this point, even if peter doesn't totally get that Jesus is the Son of God, he's dissed his friend.  big time.  he was a coward and a big mouth.  I am peter.

I really don't know if peter understood that Jesus was God.  perhaps he had an inkling, but I don't think he really knew.  I think he knew in his head but not in his heart.  he had witnessed great miracles.  he had walked with Jesus and heard him teach.  he was in the inner circle.  but I'm not sure he really believed.  that he really trusted.  I think that peter thought it was really over.  he totally stabbed his friend in the back and now that friend was dead.  that is an enormously hopeless place to be.  I would suspect that the days between the crucifixion and the resurrection would have been absolute emotional torment for peter.  all the "what ifs" and the "I should haves".  the desolation in peter's heart.  I am peter.

and then those words: "he's gone".  john 20 says that peter was the first one to the grave after the women came and found him.  the grave was empty.  that little twinge of something in peter's heart.  that bit of hope.  that tiny piece of expectation.  a small reminder of the words Jesus had spoken just days before.  knowing in that moment that restoration could be found.  I am peter.

now go and read john 21.  restoration and grace.  the two things that I believe Jesus died for.  I deserve death.  He took it for me.  and He restores my soul.  I deserve death.  and He gives me the gift of grace.  peter did not deserve the love he received.  yet it was freely given.  restoration and grace.  peter did not deserve his second chance, but grace offered it with a heart wide open.  and in those moments on the beach by the sea of galilee, peter was restored.  forgiven.  redeemed.  loved.  I am peter.

this song has been in my head a lot lately.  it has less to do directly with easter sunday than it does a celebration of restoration.  an anthem of worship in honour of the grace given.

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed. 

Then sings my soul, 
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, 
How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, 
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, 
How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze. 

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin. 

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

may I always be in humble adoration, living a life restored.  a life where "second chance" is my middle name.  a life where grace is offered freely, yet treasured for the price that was paid.  for me, easter sunday is when I proclaim:  "My God, how great Thou art!"

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