Friday, April 10, 2009

Wild Cats, Wild Cards, Holy Week...wonderful week


Today is Good Friday and finds me in an exceptional Easter Week.

Not only have I timed my Gospel study to wrap up this week, bringing me so many more connections and understandings on my little, personal quest, I have also had the pleasure to see my daughter enjoy her first taste of soccer (her team is the Wild Cats simply decided by her coach due to the blue jerseys) and I have had a burst of creativity that is powering all kinds of projects.

I have been reading Steven L. Bridge's Getting the Gospels. This is a book that I found at our local library but was compelled to purchase. (I like writing notes in my books when I am really excited about something; impossible to do with a borrowed book!) In it, the author does a wonderful comparison/contrasting of the four books in a way to shed light on one another, the culture, the era, and the meaning. In the most timely way, I was introduced to Christ's words, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me," as the quoting of scripture, not as a feeling of aloneness or doubt, which was my original understanding that had troubled me. Connecting it to Psalm 22 and David's praise Psalm turned on a giant light bulb to my interpretation of the words. It brings me to wonder why Jesus died before the recitation was complete. Why did God plan it that way? I am at the point in this that I have to assume that much like the parable teaching style of Christ, He wanted those who wanted to hear to listen.

The Maundy Thursday service at church was exceptional. I think Wayne, our minister, was moved to drama for the service as he closed with symbols of darkness (lights dimmed, candles snuffed, a black cloth pulled up to cover the cross on the alter table that was ultimately crowned with thorns) and we were instructed to leave in total silence. It was very powerful after an emotional sermon and strategic readings from Max Lucado's The Cross. (http://www.amazon.com/Cross-Selected-Writings-Images/dp/157673093X .) I had my daughter, who refused to go with the other kids, with me during the service. She was a perfect angel, but missed the part about leaving in silence and asked (kinda loudly), "What are we doing now?" and "What's going on?" I had prepped her for communion and explained that as well as I could to a five-year-old. I really tried to impress upon her the meaning of the day, again, to the best of my ability, but I forgot to repeat in her ear that we were all going to procede out of the church in silence. As soon as we hit the outside air, I tried to explain the experience of the darkness and quiet and just then it started to rain. By the time we reached the embarrassingly ridiculous diesel truck that I am driving these days, it was pouring down. Wow, it could not have been staged better and I felt that we were divinely acted upon at that moment!

I think our minister was disappointed at how few were in attendance. We have a big church -- I mean not a mega church, but much bigger than I grew up in and bigger than the one in Indiana that I loved. Still, only 4o people showed up for what seems to me to be a pivotal part of the Holy Week. The Last Supper and, later, Christ's prayer to God as in Luke 22:42, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done," is one of the most interesting of Jesus' words to me. It shows His human side, His understanding of the pain to come, and the complete trust in God's plan. The anticipation of His suffering and the prophetic conclusion to his life before resurrection is something you would expect more Christians to come to fellowship for, as it is painful to grasp.

I will always remember our next-door neighbor when I was a kid. She was elderly and kind. She once invited me over for cookies and out of the blue asked me, "Aren't you glad Jesus died for you?" I remember thinking why would I be happy about such a thing but knew I couldn't say that to her. I knew (sort of) what she meant, but to be happy for someone suffering -- especially for me-- is counter-normal. It is, however, what we hold on to as Christians. I think we often shove that part in the closet and focus on our Easter outfit, egg hunts, joy for spring, and a big family dinner. We like the joy of Easter, minus the pain that leads us there. Surely God understands this is our nature even if it is hurtful to Him.

I think that is why I was glad to take my daughter to that service with me. I want her to understand, as well as her fragile, innocent mind can (as much as any of us can), the importance of the cruxifiction as it led to resurrection and the gift of salvation; the importance of God's will even when it is hard to understand or hard to obey. She is old enough now to start understanding some concepts yet others are memorized ideas.

This year we will still have an Easter bunny leaving a basket of gifts, but unlike past Easters, most items will have religious significance. Her preschool used Resurrection Eggs to help the kids with symbols of the season. The EB will bring those too. (If you want to make your own instead of buying them, check this out for directions http://www.annieshomepage.com/eastereggs.html.) She is also receiving a real Bible. It is a Veggie Tales NIV Bible, so I hope the pictures get her interest and remind her of the DVD Bible stories she has seen. Peter Cottontale also found a DVD called Miss Patty Cake's Eggstravaganza http://www.amazon.com/Miss-Pattycakes-Eggstravaganza-Jean-Thomason/dp/B00007G1V1 that reinforces the lessons with the resurrection eggs.

Ok, confession time: I did buy her a couple of non-religious gifts for her Easter basket. Here's the thing- Easter is a good time. Egg hunts are fun. Pictures of a child on the Easter Bunny's lap are cute. There is nothing wrong with secular imagery in my child's Easter celebration as long as the peeps, chocolate bunnies, and hats do not over-shadow the symbols and meaning of the cross, the rooster, the palm, the donkey colt, the thorny crown, the spear, and the nails. As long as my child is instructed prayerfully in the deep meaning and importance of Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday as they relate to her salvation and God's love, there is nothing wrong with finding joy in her new outfit, the Easter Bunny, and jelly beans. Well, actually, the EB doesn't bring candy at our house, but that's only because the grandmas supply enough of that!

These ideas have had my mind racing of late. I have been making cards for everyone and trying out new cartridges. I have tried to combine the secular images with Bible meaning, focusing on scripture that talks of celebration. My Cricut habit is serving me well on this. I love my latest cartridge, Wild Card. http://www.ohmycrafts.com/newcricutcartridgewildcardpre-orderexpectedtoshipinseptember.aspx It has been such a great stress reliever! I have also been sending my mom cards on a daily basis as I work out designs with the software. (My mom gave me my first Cricut and started this addiction.)

I also started playing with older cartridges after finding the most fantastic homemade tutorials ever! Check out a blog by my husband's new wannbe-girlfriend, Robyn http://thepinkstamper.blogspot.com/2008/12/all-my-cricut-series-videos.html. She has incredibly easy-to-understand and helpful youtube tutorials. She had suggested some of the best tips, including a great source for inexpensive vinyl for the Cricut on-line (10 yards for $15 compared to 24" for $10 at Wal-mart). Check out http://www.signwarehouse.com/c-vinyl-supplies-CRICKET.html for colors and pricing. She also had me searching for EZ Mount to convert my wood mounted stamps to foam. Like all things crafty, the best prices are on eBay. My other new, great find is Mounting Adhesive, which is a double-sided adhesive sheet that you apply to paper before using the Cricut to cut out small shapes, like letters. The shapes then become stickers, removing the need for gluing to a base. I found this at Michael's. I also finally found Martha Stewart's picket fence edge punch. How does Martha always know what I like?

Speaking of what I like, how does watching a bunch of five-year-olds bopping around a windy field, clumsily trying to follow directions for a game they do not know how to play sound to you? The coach is a super-patient, super-gentle giant who is volunteering to single-handedly get this group ready for a game tomorrow -- actually, I have worked on this long enough that, weather-permitting, the Wild Cats will have their first game in a few hours! This is a church league, so in addition to not saying anything nasty or purging, Coach Stephen is also in charge of a weekly Bible verse and encouraging fun over pride and fairness over victory. He gets my vote for sainthood.

So this has been quite a week. New experiences, new readings, new connections to old ideas. Wild Cats, Wild Cards, and one wild week!

Something extra for your glittering eyes:
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." John 20:29

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