Beholding Glory poetry by Lois Krogh

They didn’t come
to see him die.
They came to see a miracle.

Drawn by a desperate curiosity,
moved by a perplexing need,
they quietly hoped
what their leaders scoffed,
“He saved others.
Let him save himself.”

They left
filled with deep sorrow
from all they had seen.

Hearts heavy.
Thoughts darkened.
Eyes blinded
to the dazzling drama.

The apex of history.
The culmination of prophecy.
The reconciliation of God and mankind.

Days, weeks, years later
some would come to know
and wonder at the glory
they’d been privileged to behold.

Open my eyes that I may see
truth in the midst of deception,
grace in the midst of despair,
beauty in the midst of destruction. 

Dusty, Fusty Feet by Virginia Hughes

Feet aren't easily washed. They need to be soaked, scrubbed and scraped even. The washer must bend a low bow or better squat as feet aren't cleaned just with a bucket of water thrown in their general direction. Suds, perfumes and sturdy towels help. This is the kind of chore a parent performs for the health of his little one. It covers the intimacy of lovers and at times the expediency of health care professionals. For the latter, I'm not going in without a hazmat suit covering toe to top of head.

Yet Jesus washed the feet of his own men at a time of filthy, open-toed footwear in the dusty Middle East. During the Passover feast, Jesus begins the foot washing. The dramatic scenes unfold one after another. Betrayal, garden arrest, betrayal, trial, betrayal, betrayal, betrayal. He washes their feet before he lays down his life. He cleanses them on the outside as he blazes a trail to purify the inner person.

At cross purposes since the Fall, Jesus is always teaching his followers. Conversation and contemplation fill the air between them as they hike the dusty roads. A fig tree withers before their eyes for one lesson. Jesus turns water into wine and saves the best for last. No one else would think of that. He collects people as their fishing nets explode with fish. He sleeps through a storm, tells the wind and waves to be still, walks on water, feeds the five thousand, plus more. He calls a dead friend back to life, heals a blind man and restores strong legs to another. He performs so many miracles they aren't all listed in the Scriptures.

These men who follow Jesus have seen a lot. Yet he finds one more way to unnerve them with his unexpected lesson of foot washing. They are awkward watching Jesus be so humble. The lowliness of the scene echoes that of his manger birth, and foretells how lowly he will yet become. They struggle not to get in his way as he teaches them how to serve each other. “Not my feet,” Peter pleas. “Yes, if you don’t let me do this, you will have no part of me.” Jesus says. “Wash all of me then,” Peter bends. What a refreshing relief to lose the layers of grime. Peter has no idea the layers of grime Jesus is pursuing.

As the night unfolds, the risks increase. The stakes get higher. At the fever pitch of torture and death, Jesus teaches by example again. His body is broken as he dies for all sin and fulfills his earlier words about greater love. Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends. His blood flows to wash us clean.

We see spring wash the earth with rain and new growth emerges. We eat the bread and drink the wine and remember Christ’s sacrifice for us. This time of new lambs and resurrection glory brings opportunities to love our neighbor as ourselves. We keep his commandments when we love each other, and the strength to do so comes when I ask Jesus to wash all of me then.

The Power of the Cross by Pat Cirrincione

As a child, Easter and its true meaning didn’t mean much to me, except that the Easter Bunny—a bit like Santa Claus—was not going to come to our house until I fell asleep. In the morning came the joy of looking for the Easter eggs that the bunny had hidden as my siblings and I were fast asleep, dreaming of Easter goodies.  We not only found eggs filled with colorful jelly beans, but also our very own beautiful Easter baskets filled with small gifts and the piece de resistance, a chocolate Easter bunny!

Lest we think the bunny and his basket were all-important, there was always the new Easter outfit. A new dress, new white shoes and a pretty Easter hat to wear and show off at church. Yes, it was all about showing off your new clothes and checking out what so and so was wearing.

Then I learned about the Cross.

It began with Jesus, born to a virgin named Mary. It continued with stories of his life as a son of a lowly carpenter named Joseph, his speaking in the synagogue at age 12; then to the wedding feast at Cana when he turned water into the best wine. It became even more extraordinary when he was baptized in the Jordan River by his cousin John, and began his three-year ministry of proclaiming the gospel and his Father’s message of love.  And it all ended with his crucifixion.

For me, no longer was Easter all about a bunny, but a lamb, who would be sacrificed for our sins. The Passion’s principle player was Jesus. I had no idea, not being raised in a Christian household. I never understood the power of the cross.

Hebrews 13:11 speaks of the Levitical sin and guilt offerings; of a lamb without blemish. John 19:17 shows us that Jesus loved his Father, and us, through the agony of rejection, torture and disgrace. He bore our sins on the cross to save us from the penalty we deserve. It showed that we are infinitely valued and loved, and that the main ending point is not death, it is love. That Jesus laid down his life to rescue us from sin and the wrath of God. Jesus came to be killed because he loves you and me. His dying showed his magnitude to us, and made his name clear to all. He suffered for our freedom.

So, what is your primary God given duty? If Jesus stood before Pilate and the religious leaders today would you be one that shouted for his crucifixion? Whom would you follow? The way, the truth and the life, or would you be as weak as Pilate and give him over to die?

When I first heard the song, “The Power of the Cross,” it made me—and still makes me—want to crumble to my knees because Christ became sin for us.

Oh, to see the dawn of the darkest day. Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men, torn and beaten then nailed to a cross of wood.
This the power of the cross. Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath. We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain written on Your face, bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Every bitter thought, every evil deed crowning your blood-stained brow.
This the power of the cross. Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath. We stand forgiven at the cross.

Now the day-light flees, now the ground beneath quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life.
“FINISHED!” the victory cry.
This the power of the cross. Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath. We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see my name written in the wounds, for through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live, won through Your selfless love!
This the power of the cross. Son of God, slain for us.
WHAT A LOVE, WHAT A COST. WE STAND FORGIVEN AT THE CROSS.

Again, I wonder what is our primary end in life? To be caught up in the Easter Bunny parade of self, or in Jesus, the Passion Lamb. The victory cry of “it is finished” is victory for all believers, and he alone should be exalted above all else. This the power of the Cross.

Love, Lust and the Cross in Between, poetry by Alyssa Carlburg

Both words are four letters and they start with the same,

but their motives and desires are revealed in their names.

One longs for the physical, the temporal, the finite,

the other to serve and share the Divine Light.

 

Lust is a predator, a lion, a snake,

refusing to give, seeking only to take.

It devours and consumes like a hungry flame,

blazing and burning to hide its shame.

Relentless and cruel, it serves only the self,

ignoring the other like a dust-covered shelf.

But, the worst by far, is its separation from the Lord,

as it submits, body and mind, to the Devil he abhors.

 

Love is a healer, a lamb, a dove,

striving only to shine the Light from Above.

It builds and supports like a tireless mother,

silent and patient as it serves the other.

Undying and enduring, it unceasingly gives,

relishing in the eternal life that it lives.

And, the best is its union with the Lord, faithfully true,

Given through the Cross, and the curtain torn in two.

 

The contrast is vivid, terrifying, and stark.

We can soar to the light, or drown in the dark.

The choice that we make reveals our desires:

To be slaves for the Lord, or burn in Hell’s fire.

So, let this be our prayer through each trial and test,

to give all to our God, and abandon the rest.

Rock of My Salvation by Cheryce Berg

Winter wanes and spring struggles. My faith mirrors the hyacinths outside my front door, straining up through cold stones looking for sunlight.

Easter catches me by surprise and I admit my heart is not ready to celebrate Holy Week.

I stop by to visit my friends Pete and June, newly returned from their first trip to Israel. Maybe what they saw there will enliven my weary heart. Surely walking where Jesus walked brings new life to Easter, even when you’ve celebrated it for almost ninety years, as they have.

I want to be refreshed.

Pete talks about the land. “But the land, you wonder how they can live in a land like that. Basically, you see rock and sand. . . You see trees by the thousands--fruit, bananas, figs, olives, apples, pears, everything you can think of. You would think the land cannot produce but it does. The land is an amazing land. I don’t know how it could produce the way it does.”

He keeps circling back to the land—and the rock which makes it. “It’s a beautiful country in a way. In another way, it’s probably not a beautiful country at all because there's so much rock and sand, but they seem to thrive on it so well. Amazing. Just amazing.”

And again, Pete remarks on the rock and land. “We would see sheep up in the mountains, going up there, with almost no grass.  But they would work what little there was.”

It sounds parched. Not refreshing at all. Not what I was envisioning.

Yet, in an upside down way, it is. I start thinking about those trees and sheep Pete and June describe, thriving in the rocky desert.

I decide to look and see what God does with rocks and stones in the Bible. 

I immediately see that water bursts forth from the rock for the Israelites at Horeb. Moses is hidden in the cleft of a rock as God’s glory passes by. God’s law is carved on tablets of stone. Stones adorn the priestly garments. Stones are set up as remembrance of God’s mighty hand and built into altars. David’s stone kills the Philistine giant. Solomon’s temple is constructed of huge, costly stones. God is called the rock, often combined with words such as salvation, fortress and refuge.

God promises a rebellious Israel that he will take their heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is described as the cornerstone. Stubborn Peter is the rock on which Jesus declares he will build his church.

And with Easter this week, I can’t ignore Jesus’ death and resurrection. The rocks are split at Jesus’ last cry. He is buried in a tomb carved out of rock and sealed with a stone. And it is this stone the angel rolls away, to reveal a resurrected Savior.

What message do I read in all these biblical connections to a land of rock and stone? I see a God who takes what is not alive and gives it life-giving purpose. He reveals glory, gives law, adorns with beauty, commands worship and remembrance, destroys the enemy, saves, protects and hides—all with rock and stone. He replaces hearts of stone with flesh, builds his church on rock, splits open rocks at his death.

He breaks free from a tomb of rock sealed with stone to be my Risen Savior.

Pete and June’s description of a land of rock and stone helps me see that God takes what is barren and breathes life into it. He chose Israel as the promised land, the place where he would send his Son, knowing its terrain.

God didn’t reject Israel because it was barren; he redeemed it in its barrenness.

Just like he did, and does, with me. 

My faith is refreshed at last. God has redeemed my heart of stone with Jesus’ work on the cross. I will worship him this Easter, the Rock of my Salvation.

Saturation Point by Lorraine Triggs

Easter egg dying is a weeklong project in our house. We begin dying eggs the Saturday before Palm Sunday and end the Saturday before Easter.

No Paas egg dye for us; instead we (or at least my husband and two good friends) create works of art with Ukrainian egg dyes, styluses and beeswax. Dipping a stylus heated by the flame of a candle into beeswax, we can make lines, circles and all kinds of varied colors. As the week goes on, dark colors cover up the lighter ones. Since each dye color saturates the egg, the trick is to remember the sequence of dyes—from light to dark—as you apply the beeswax to your egg to create its design.

The final dye color in which we dip our beeswax covered egg is black. The entire egg, with its beeswax designs (squiggles in my case) and layers of color, is completely saturated with the darkest dye. The egg starts white and by Good Friday, ends black.

The fun comes when we melt the wax over low heat, and carefully wipe it off the egg to reveal the design under the black dye and wax.

I've gone to plenty of Palm Sunday (and Good Friday and Easter) services with my hands stained from the dye. The dye eventually fades, but on Palm Sunday, no matter how loud I shout, "Hosanna," my heart remains saturated and stained with sin.

And none of my good works or self-efforts can wipe off the stain. I need another color, a crimson stain, to cover my sin. I can't even cover it myself. And it needs to soak into my heart, mind and soul to create a new life in me, a workmanship created in Christ Jesus.

Now that's worth shouting hosanna as I look to a cross outside the city.