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Bless the Lord

. . .and to our dying days, both Jerry and I want to Bless our Lord. May my final moment breathe out His praises.

Our ministries now are limited, our aging and abilities affecting what we can do for Him. But on occasion–as during Easter morning 2019–we lift our voices in praise to our Savior.

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Christianity/Religion Photography Religion Travel

Of Golgotha and The Resurrection

ImageWe walked up the hill, the famed one, or should it be called the infamous one?, the hill whose name had whipped by my ears since childhood, and over whose thought I had cried, and I had colored little pictures in Sunday school classes, and cut yellow paper crosses and made scenes with stones and twigs, and jelly beans lay about. Earlier we had passed the sign, and almost by the minute I lifted my camera and snapped the shutter, as though if I weren’t eager enough or ready enough the moment would pass . . . and I would not get it all. . . and I would be left empty.

ImageIt is not a hill far away as the hymns of earlier day had told me, so without too much effort, and without trudging very far, I climbed the last little bit, mounted a cement patio area, and when the leader of the group ahead of me was finished, we finally stood to face Golgotha. The skull was there.

ImageNearby a woman hung laundry on a line. Below tour buses were lined in an orderly way.

ImageAnd in the garden among ancient olive trees we stood and looked across the Kidron Valley just as Jesus had done, and one day He had wept over the city and said He wanted to take care of the people, wanted to protect them as a mama does her babies, but you don’t seem to want me to do that, He lamented. And soon they ordered Him from their cities, and called Him a devil . . .and He ached for them. And wept.

It is such an ordinary place. It is not heavenly. It is not mystic. And in such an atmosphere Jesus prayed that night in the garden, and blood ran, and His disciples fled.

And when I looked at Golgotha that morning a few weeks ago I thought of my dear friend Johnny Hodges who clinched his ancient watery eyes and threw his head back when he told me that he wept when he first saw the hallowed spot, and he had said to his wife, “Elaine, this is the place. This is where Jesus bought my salvation.” I did not have that response. I looked at the old wall and understood when our guide said that Golgotha is just outside the gates and thus the location would agree with scripture, that this surely is close to the very spot of the crucifixion, but there were lines of tour buses and vendors waiting to press their gadgets into our hot hands  and “buy your tickets” and “take a number for your turn” . . .and so I looked, but I did not see.

I have seen before. I see now, though a vast body of water and land separate me from the Holy spot, for I see with my soul and with my spirit. Carved into my being that day was a fresh understanding that Jesus endured the garden and the cross and the scourging and the thorny crown in all its ugliness and it was such an ordinary day, ordinary lives, dust on the roads, thirst in parched throats. It was not glorious. No tensil, nor flicker lights, nor cute nativity sets, nor glittering pendants about one’s neck. And yet . . . in the garden angels tended that Holy Man, a cloak of black snuffed out the brilliant sky, that thick curtain in the temple ripped in half, and beneath it all the earth wrenched and cracked in agony.

untitled (127 of 342)And then we gathered and Brother Walls served us, and I kept my cup and Jerry’s.

untitled (123 of 342)We sang great hymns of the church. We sang of the blood, the running great stream of blood.

untitled (128 of 342)And with my family and friends, I cried . . . and remembered . . . and felt.

untitled (109 of 342)We saw tombs and entered them and studied their style.

untitled (111 of 342)And at the tomb on that Easter morning as women went to minister to the body of their friend, they “found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed there about, behold two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen . . .”

 

 

 

 

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America Arizona Christianity/Religion Church Culture Humor Lake Havasu Life Music Pentecostal Photography Religion Social

Broken Easter Shoes

Broken Easter Shoes, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

I was late for yesterday’s Easter morning church service.

I bought these shoes last year, and I thought they looked cute enough with the clothes I selected to wear to service yesterday. They’re not terribly expensive shoes, although I don’t recall exactly what I paid for them. The upper part is of Italian leather, and it beats me what the rest of the stuff is. The label calls it man made material Well, some man messed up.

A half hour or so before the service was scheduled to begin, I walked into the church, and as I did, I had a strange feeling somewhere around my right foot. I stopped, tipped down my head to get a good look at the place where something peculiar seemed to be happening, and saw that my shoe had broken sharply in half.

What to do? Mike giggled as we both looked at the shoe. There was no way to repair the thing.

“Guess I can walk around barefoot.”

Mike was grinning. “Well…Mom.”

The problem was I had to go to a hotel yet and pick up my brother who was visiting and if I took the time to go back to the motor home for another pair of shoes I would be late for church.

Guess I could walk around barefoot, I thought again. You know our church is little and a bit on the casual side seeing this is Lake Havasu and it’s starting to get quite warm, and sometimes people even come in shorts…I was thinking all this, but then I had a little vision of exactly how it would look for the pastor’s wife to be traipsing around barefoot on Easter Sunday morning.

“I’m going home for shoes. Probably be late,” I told Mike and Jerry.

I was late. Several people grinned as I came in, I did a bit of greeting here and there and walked across the floor to the keyboard.

Easter morning service could begin. I was there. 🙂

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My devotional blog is here.

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America Christianity/Religion Church Holidays Music Religion video

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!

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America Art/Architecture Christianity/Religion Church Culture Holidays Humor Life Music Photography Social The World Workplace

Drama Woes

I giggled when I read this a few minutes ago, for it always tickles me when professionals have the same kind of troubles as we mere mortals. During these few days before Easter, all over the United States–and in other parts of the world, no doubt–churches are planning Easter dramas, dragging out props, hammering crosses, reciting lines, staking out flowers, fashioning angel wings and sewing peasant frocks.

In addition to the joy of presenting the story, the camaraderie that arises from such production is long-lasting, and glorious memories are indelibly filed in our brain’s special saving spot. When we were pastoring in Rialto, there were lots of very talented people in our congregation, we produced dozens of dramas, and we often played to a packed house. What fun that was! What sheer exhaustion! What challenges we faced!

Once we invited Pastor Berl Stevenson’s church to come up from El Cajon and present special music during intermission, or between acts–can’t quite remember, but this part I vividly recall. His group was singing–beautiful music–when one of our crew got mixed up and let down the curtain we had rigged, completely obliterating the singing group. It was terrible…but they were troopers and kept singing, but now the sound was muffled, all we could see were feet, and across the congregation there was lots of snickering.

Anyway, today I pay tribute to all you who are scurrying about to finish up the Easter dramas, and to give you hope, and to let you know if something goes wrong, you’re in good company.

When the tenor Gary Lehman slid down the raked stage into the prompter’s box on Tuesday night during Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” at the Metropolitan Opera, stopping the show at the start of Act III, he entered a storied history of midperformance mishaps at the opera.

This was the second consecutive time in the six-performance “Tristan” revival that trouble halted the production. Last Friday, Deborah Voigt, who was singing Isolde, left the stage during Act II because of a stomach ailment and was replaced by Janice Baird, her cover, who made her Met debut.

You’ve got to read all this funny stuff over at the New York Times. They titled the article Many Nights at the Opera House Have Involved the Emergency Room

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My devotional blog is here.