Discover the Mystery of Easter.

“Discover the Mystery of Easter.”

By Janet Stobie

As Christians today, we approach Holy week knowing the stories have a happy ending. Jesus’ death wasn’t the last word. We did the worst we could do as human beings. We turned our back on his love. We betrayed him, tortured him, killed him. And still he loves us, forgives us. And still he lives.

Our Christian Easter story is amazing. Great leaders come and go through the centuries. Some of them are remembered for the lives they lived and the lessons they taught. But only Jesus continues to live 2000 years later. There’s no scientific proof of his resurrection. How can we Christians know he lives?

For me, the knowledge “Jesus lives” is so much more than a Bible story I can read. “Jesus lives” is more than the declaration of others telling me. Jesus lives in my heart. With each new leaf and flower, each new born animal and child, with each new life, I feel the wonder of God and I know that life rises from death. I have felt Jesus’ direction and strength within me as I walked through grief, failure and illness. I have thrilled with joy as I have encountered Jesus in others and shared my time and resources.

Yes, Jesus lives. Scientific proof – definitely not. Yet, I will shout, “Hallelujah, Jesus lives!” this coming Sunday because I know he lives in my heart. This is the mystery of the Christian faith. Whether you believe or not, I invite you to join the celebration. Give thanks for God’s love that is for you just as you are, warts and all.

“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”  (John 20: 18)

“Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  (John20: 26-28)

Actually, take the time to read all of John 20 and 21. Then read the end of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Receive the Easter story into your heart.  Blessings Janet

 

Today is Good Friday. Why?

Christians call today Good Friday. Why?

By Janet Stobie

"Good Friday"
“Good Friday”

Every year I struggle anew with our Christian interpretation of the Biblical story of Easter. Through research and biblical study of the “Old Testament”, the Hebrew Bible, I have learned that people in Jesus’ time believed that pleasing God required the sacrifice of animals. Jesus focused his teaching on a loving God. Therefore, his followers interpreted Jesus’ crucifixion as the one supreme sacrifice, the one perfect sacrifice. Never again would sacrifice be required to appease God.

I cannot understand our loving God as requiring the crucifixion of Jesus in order to love us. In James Taylor’s book, “Last Chance”, he speaks of the last week of Jesus’ life as Jesus’ intentional act of love for humanity. Our Christian story tells us that during his last meal Jesus broke bread and washed the feet of his friends, even Judas, the one who would betray him. Even as he writhed on the cross, Jesus offered forgiveness to a thief and prayed for forgiveness for his torturers.

For me, God in Jesus, showed us that the worst we could do, torture and kill God as a human being, would not destroy God’s love for us. For me, today is “Good Friday” because God loved all of creation, every living thing, every human being, so much that God allowed us to do our absolute worst and still God loves us. Yes, God weeps. Yes, God writhes with pain when we sin, when we destroy the earth, when we destroy one another but God’s love is not defeated. Even before we admit our atrocities, even before we say we’re sorry, God has already died for us.

I believe that God can bring goodness out of anything. Every time as humans we destroy another human being, whether physically, emotionally or socially, we commit the atrocity of the crucifixion of Jesus. Still God works to bring new life for us.

This morning’s reading in my Lenten Study book “Rising with the Morning Star”, reminded me of a scientific fact. Six billion years ago, the ocean began with volcanic explosions. From the violence and destruction of volcanic eruptions, God created the ocean, earth’s fundamental source of life. Of course, today is Good Friday, God’s Friday, the source of new life.

 

Helping Others Is a Privilege.

Helping Others Is a Privilege.

by Janet Stobie

Lately I’ve been having a grand time helping others with their writing. Some people call it mentoring. I call it a privilege. I don’t ever want to forget how much I enjoy teaching. Working with others, affirming their gifts, patiently challenging them to improve, feeds my soul. Last week, hours just disappeared as I sat with a very special young woman as she wrestled with a project for her university course.

For me, one of the joys of being a mother and grandmother has been watching my children and grandchildren respond to love and appreciation, especially when their struggles seemed to be overwhelming. Gardeners know the wonder of watching a sprout poke up through the soil, reaching for the sunlight. In just a few weeks, leaves develop, then the flower, even the fruit appears. Over a lifetime, the beautiful spirit in another human being develops in the same way. When I keep that privilege at the forefront of my mind, I can only give God thanks for the honour of being part of a person’s life.

I encourage all of you to search for opportunities to mentor someone. Often these opportunities are just fleeting moments. When you stand at the cash register waiting for your change, you can use the occasion to help the clerk find value in their work that day. All it takes is a sentence.

“Thank you, you’ve been helpful.”

“The store’s busy today. You must be tired.”

Acknowledging work well done, or visible exhaustion gives the message that this clerk is important. Whether you are shopping, standing at the soccer field, or having coffee after church, you can affirm the people around you, young and old alike.

I suggest you try it. For a few moments you will forget your own troubles while you make this world a better place in which someone else can bloom and grow.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:10-12)

Show Me A Life-time Guarantee

Show Me A Life-time Guarantee

by Janet Stobie

While travelling in Vermont last month, I bought a pair of socks made of merino wool, labelled “Darn Tough.” These socks come with a life-time guarantee. If they wear out, shrink, develop holes, even if the dog chews them, I can return or mail them to the store and get a new pair. Now the price was $20.00 US, but my friends assured me that they had been wearing this brand of socks for a number of years. They had received replacements with no difficulty when the socks showed signs of wear and tear. As I handed over my $20.00, I imagined my feet at the age of 100, still clad in my “Darn Tough” socks.

God also offers us a life time guarantee. God’s love is ours forever, in life, in death, in life beyond death. That’s God’s promise. Regardless of the number of holes we develop. No matter how many times we mess up. God loves us even when we’re feeling tired, worn, beaten up. God’s life-time guarantee comes free, absolutely free. Starting with our conception in the womb, God loves us. And we don’t have to return our lives to the store to get them replaced either. God’s love is with us always through thick and thin, while the storms of life rage, when we’re happy and celebrating, when we’re filled with sorrow or remorse. And we don’t have to pay for it.

Still many of us won’t accept the gift of God’s love. Even when we say that Jesus paid the price already, still some of us aren’t satisfied. We haven’t paid, so the gift doesn’t exist or has no value. I sometimes think it’s not a lack of belief in God, rather it’s just that we don’t want to owe anyone, not even God.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)