Six years ago, I attended my first Lutheran service. It was Good Friday (I guess it’s not exactly six years since Easter bounces around some). The guy I was dating (who is now my husband) took me to his church. I was 31 and had never experienced a Good Friday service, but thinking back on it, Matt may have been up to something. Normally, you leave somberly from a Good Friday service, it’s quiet, not a lot of speaking - it was a great time to bring a new girl friend to a small church you’ve attended since you were a teenager. Well played Matt, well played.
Easter, outside of chocolate bunnies and big hats, always seemed a bit depressing to me growing up. Why do we celebrate the horrible things, this poor man went through? I saw Passion of the Christ in my early twenties, in the theater, I walked out shocked with mascara running down my face - it was horrible. It was hard to see the bigger work that had been done through the violence and hate that occurred that day.
So, what exactly happened on Good Friday? My father in-law (JAGdad) shared this in an email to our congregation.
• Jesus is tried, convicted, sentenced and sent to be crucified.
• Jesus is nailed to the cross between two thieves.
• Jesus forgives, calls out in prayer, declares that his work is FINISHED, gives up his spirit, and dies.
• His body is taken down from the cross and laid in a borrowed tomb.
This morning as we wake to prepare for egg hunts and assure our Easter outfit is perfect, it is FINISHED.
As you add the last minute items to your children’s Easter baskets, know it is FINISHED.
As we place a glaze on our ham tomorrow morning, it is FINISHED.
As some of you may grumble, that your favorite store is closed when normally open for Sunday afternoon shopping, it is FINISHED.
It has been finished for 1,983 years, but we still need this yearly reminder.
Do you know the story? Even if you’ve heard it over and over, it’s time to remind yourself. This morning before the busyness of your day I invite you to open your bibles (or click one these links) and catch up on what happened yesterday:
I personally prefer John 19.
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
“‘It is finished.’” The debt is paid.
“He bowed his head and gave up his spirit”
Your heart changes when you realize, though brutal and horrible, He did this for you. His wounds were the ransom for my life.
Living He loved me
Dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Can you live today as if your sins have been carried far away?
Oh, I will be honest, I held tight to those sins through many, many Easter celebrations. Six years ago, as I started a relationship with a pastor’s son I kept my long list of sins hidden away in hopes they would never see the light of day. I knew, just knew, with all my heart that if just one of those sins came to light that it was over, my picture of my perfect family would never come to fruition. Just about every Easter since my first Lutheran service, I would walk the doors of church (where my father in-law lead worship) and suck in a deep breath knowing that God was going to do business with me. As I sat in the pew, I wrestled over my determination to keep my yuck, my mess just between me and Him. Normally, you’d find tears tricking down my cheeks because I knew just what He paid the price for, I knew the sins that were forgiven that day.
But this year, almost an entire year after I began living transparent with you here, I feel I can finally walk through today as if all my sins have been carried away. I surrendered to His will for my deepest secrets and I live in his mercy.
Now, I am not saying, that you should spend today listing all your laundry online for the world to read, but I am telling you that
if you’ve given your body, your purity to someone prematurely…
if you’ve let addiction take over your life…
if you’ve taken someone else’s life through an abortion…
if you’ve ended a marriage…
if you’ve been unkind to those who love you…
if you’ve been unfaithful to your spouse…
if you’ve caused someone else’s marriage to end through an affair…
if you’ve lied to everyone around you…
Even if you feel your sins are too horrible to even utter…
IT IS FINISHED
He did this, not just for me, the girl who sits in the front pew each Sunday, but He did this for you!
You my love are forgiven, your sins He has carried away.
Rising He justified
One day He's coming
Oh, Glorious Day
Please, for me (and for you), take all that in today. My hope is that tomorrow as you walk through the doors and sit in the pew, that your heart will be at peace and you are not distracted by wrestling with your sins. Lift those up to him and breathe the beauty, the feeling of “freely forever” that Easter brings. Girl (or guy), even if you are a card carrying member of the C & E club, breathe it in!
Now, I am off to make bunny pancakes for my Littles. And prepare my voice to belt out my husband’s favorite (NOT) song tomorrow morning!
Lyrics above are from this song. And FYI…it’s not the song I belt out every Easter morning, you’ll get that tomorrow.