Staying Alive - or How I Survive Holy Week

Alive! Stones in my office
Andrew has been helping me out.
A proud dad moment.
Throughout the season of Lent, I have been preaching a series on the Journey of Stones, based on a book and series of the same name by Steven Molin.  The stones represent our failures and sins in trying to follow anything but God's ways.  The Journey of Stones has been a great way for our church family to experience the importance of self-denial and taking up our own cross in following Jesus.

Now that it is holy week, and Easter is approaching at light-speed, I experience what I am sure many other pastors experience during this time - stress. More than stress of deadlines for printing bulletins and preparing the worship space, I'm talking about the stress of practicing what I have been proclaiming from the pulpit.  Over the past five weeks, I have been immersed in and living in the space of metaphor, allusion, and symbolism of the stones that have been laid at the foot of the empty cross in our sanctuary.  Week after week I have placed my stones in the burlap-lined basket, seeking the God of love and grace.  In the same manner, week after week I have witnessed the humility and worship of young children and seasoned believers placing their stones in the basket, seeking the very same forgiveness that I have sought.  The experience has been a powerful reminder that our sins have already been forgiven and that God has given us a new lease on life, no longer to live for ourselves but for the sake of others.  The stones have become symbols of what has already taken place!

During holy week, we experience the spiritual roller coaster as we journey with Jesus from the celebrations of Palm Sunday, stepping over the dried out palms on Tuesday through Thursday when we experience Jesus' observance of Passover with the disciples, and culminating in the humiliating and dehumanizing death on the cross on Good Friday.  With all that has to be done, and all that is to be experienced this week, it is easy to forget one thing... the importance of staying alive.

The capstone of the Journey of Stones is, surprise!  Easter Sunday!.  As we approach this celebration of resurrection (which we should do EVERY Sunday, even in Lent), we know that the stone has been rolled away and the tomb is empty.  The Lord has arisen indeed!  We will experience the awe and wonder of the women as they go to anoint Jesus' lifeless body, and find that he is not there.  We will see the empty cross in the distance as a reminder of what has taken place.  And finally, we will actually be taking stones home instead of leaving stones here.  On this day, we will be reminded that God has taken our stones of failure, our stones of suffering, our stones of rejection, and our stones of hardened hearts, and has rewritten his love on these stones to remind us that just as Christ as been raised from the dead, we too are alive in Christ!  What we do with these stones is up to us.  Will we accept our being made alive by the power of God's Holy Spirit in what Jesus has done for us on the cross?  Will we share our resurrection stories with others as God continues to raise us to new life?

Remember, Sunday is coming!  Resurrection is coming!  Jesus is Alive!

And so are you!

Because He Lives!

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