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Be Still

Late winter is the season to prune fruit trees, before the sap rises and buds swell green and blossoms unfurl. A warm, sunny day makes the work pleasant. A calm day makes the work safe. My husband was pruning in the top of standard-size apple trees with a tall ladder and a sharp saw, so I was happy for the unusual lack of wind.

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I took advantage of the spring-like weather, too, and walked to the windbreak with my camera strapped around my neck and my down coat unzipped. What I heard that day was more remarkable than what I saw–a train.

Because of the nearly constant noise of traffic on the road and the ever-present wind, I have only heard a train a handful of times in the twenty-some years we have lived on this farm. The closest railroad line is ten miles away, but the faint rumbling on the metal tracks and occasional sounding of the horn came from a train rattling through a small town nearly fifteen miles to the north.

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What whispers from God will we hear in the calm places and quiet times? Will we be like Elijah who heard the “still, small voice” after the wind, earthquake, and fire passed by?

“Be still, and know that I am God;”   Psalm 46:10   NIV

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As I reread this week the Gospel stories of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, I noticed that the day before the Sabbath was called the Day of Preparation. In the Old Testament there was a great deal of planning and preparation that had to be made ahead of time in order to properly observe the Sabbath. That Saturday while Jesus lay in the tomb must have been a sombre time for the disciples, a time of reflection. Perhaps it helped them prepare to hear the Good News of the resurrection on Sunday morning.

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Do we prepare ourselves for the Easter shouts of “He is risen!” by listening and waiting the days prior to Resurrection Sunday?

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Do we need to prune away some of the busyness and noise in our lives to reap a better harvest later?

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;  Psalm 37:7   NIV

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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Flowers, crown of thorns, cross/window photos by Barb Briggs

The Rest of the Story

I have seen many crosses this week–on church lawns, in sanctuaries, inside display cases, even on the corner of a car dealer’s lot.  I join other Christians in commemorating Good Friday and remembering Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion, but I don’t want to get stuck there.

I don’t want to become near-sighted, focusing only on the pain of the cross and forgetting the joy and glory of the Resurrection.  This story has a glory-filled conclusion.

I have been challenged by a recent Christianity Today article.

Don’t focus on the suffering of Jesus to the extent that you neglect the glory of the Cross in and through the Resurrection.

The authors (Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor) remind us of Jesus’ journey from God and His return to the heavenly Abba.

Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;

John 13:1,3   NIV

Jesus’ return to the heavenly Father was a return to glory!

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.   John 17:5   NIV

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I can’t comprehend that.  The closest parallel I can imagine is leaving my home and family on a trip and coming back years later, but that’s a dim candle compared to the bright splendor of heaven.

This familiar verse in Hebrews

For the joy set before him he endured the cross   Hebrews 12:2   NIV

reminds me of something I can understand:  the process of giving birth.

“Remember to breathe.”

“Push!”

“Aaagh!”

“Congratulations! It’s a boy–9 pounds and 13 ounces!”

Why do we endure the pain of childbirth?  For the delight we feel cradling our newborn,

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 for the joy set before us.

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My prayer for us all this Easter season:

may we remember Jesus death and suffering for our sins

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AND the glory and joy of Jesus’ resurrection.

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I’m ready to celebrate!

He is risen.

He is risen indeed.

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Thanks to Barb Briggs and Rachel Joy Nieuwsma for allowing me to use their photos.

  linking with Jennifer Lee Dukes

  linking with Emily Wierenga

  linking with Laura Boggess

 

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