Holy Saturday: The Waiting Period

This morning, the church sanctuary was filled with a chorus of Halleluiah!’s as the choir rehearsed for tomorrow’s Easter worship. Joy was nearly tangible, as violins soared through scales alongside bold trumpet blares. Children’s squeals of delight rang through the air, floating in from outside where they were hunting brightly colored Easter eggs stuffed with sweet treats.

This is it, I thought. This is what church is: Jesus manifested in joy and life and love.

But then I looked out across the pews and remembered–not yet. It’s still only the day after Good Friday. Heavy black cloth still hangs over the windows, blocking out the array of rainbow-colored sunlight that should be scattered across the crimson carpet. Jesus is still laying lifeless in the tomb. The world is still dark and quiet, grieving a separation from God.

We are still in the In-Between, in the Not Yet. We are still in the Waiting Period.

I found myself asking it then, as I sang Handel’s Halleluiah: What does it mean to live on Holy Saturday? There are no sermons given today, no pastor is standing up to explain to us what we do here in the waiting. Instead, we go on Easter egg hunts and have dinner with those we love. We don’t know what to do with this extra day, so we just start the Resurrection joy early.

And it feels good, but it separates us from those first-century followers of Jesus who did not have the understanding of this day that we do. We rehearse with trumpets and take pictures of our kids with the Easter Bunny, but they were in agonizing pain.

Having just seen the worst thing they could think of happen right before their eyes, some of them even participating in it–the betraying kiss, the three denials–I imagine joy was far from their emotional vocabulary. I can see them, huddled around a small table in one of the Twelve’s home, tears blurring their vision. I can hear them, asking it softly: “What do we do now?”

The worst has happened and they don’t know what is coming. It feels like the whole world is holding it’s breath, feeling the weight of Jesus’ death all around.

And we, too, know this feeling all too well. The breathlessness when a loved one draws their last, the white-hot anger of a community when the police shoots an unarmed black man in the back 10 times, the confusion when a woman is told to shut up and sit down (in nicer words, of course) because 2,000 years ago Paul said she was unfit for leadership.

Oh, yes, we know it. The fear of the LGBTQ+ community of being beaten to death in the name of Jesus if they walk into the wrong church, the fury in the remembering of indigenous people’s land stolen by the Colonizers, the injustice of an innocent person executed at the hands of the State.

We each have our own story of how this darkness has crept into our lives, don’t we?

Just like the disciples, we can’t see past our suffering yet. It’s only on Sunday that Friday makes sense, and it will only be someday that today makes sense.

Maybe we forget this dark, grief-filled day so easily because it feels just like every other day. Perhaps we have gotten so used to the pain that our tolerance has risen. Maybe we don’t need one day each year designated to sit in this nearly unbearable pain because we feel it every single day, whether we want to or not: fear, death, the worst of humanity on display.

If we are honest, most of our lives are Holy Saturdays. Most of it is lived here in the in-between, waiting with baited breath to see if Good will win out over Evil. This day is for Jesus, and for all of us. This day honors our suffering, whatever that may look like, gently reminding us that we are bound together through pain just as much as joy.

When I look at it that way, I don’t want to rush through today quite as badly. I’m okay to sit in the quiet darkness–just waiting upon Jesus. Each of us stands in our own form of the gap of darkness that bridges old life to new. We stand, exhausted but hopeful, waiting with outstretched arms raised to the heavens–crying out for our Savior.

And today, that is enough.

3 Ways to Set Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

It seems to be the most popular New Year’s Resolution of all time: to lose weight.

We watch countless weight loss ads on television in between our favorite shows, and we see them in magazines. You know, the ones that shout at you: “Energize Your Weight Loss!”, “Lose Weight and Keep It Off!”, and “Reach Your Weight Loss Goals!”. Apparently, the right way to ring in the New Year is to join a gym or make an appointment for liposuction.

We cannot avoid those advertisements, but the danger ensues when we begin to believe that those ads are right. When we start believing we have to be smaller to be happier, we buy into a life-threatening lie.

Don’t fall for it.

Life does not begin when we reach that desired number on the bathroom scale. Life does not get better when we can slip into a Size 0. How much we weigh does not determine our happiness or our worth. Don’t let someone else mandate your goals for the New Year.

Here are 3 things to remember while creating your New Year’s Resolutions:

Continue reading this article at Pursue Magazine here >>

Fear Not: How We Should All Be Living this Christmas

She climbed up on stage, a bright-eyed three-year-old, and said it so softly, full of wonder: “Jesus!” And it was all I could do not to cry. If only we all approached Christmas the same way: eyes wide open right up to the edge of the manger, peering into the face of God.

I’ve been asking it all season this year: what is Christmas all about anyway? Courage, the Spirit whispered in my ear. Christmas takes courage.

Ann Voskamp and A Charlie Brown Christmas taught me all about it yesterday:

The spirit of Christmas—is about not having a spirit of fear.

It was the very first lesson of Christmas: living courageously. The angel appeared to Mary and the shepherds—proclaiming both times, “Fear not!” Over 2,000 years later, we’re all gathering in churches and homes, all around the world, waiting to celebrate again that miraculous Thing that changed the world forever.

And we’ll never forget it, not til the end of time: that God so loved us all that God pulled on human skin and entered the world through the holiness of a woman, lowering Godself to save us from ourselves.

Jesus killed Death when he rose from the Tomb, and I’d argue that Fear is a form of Death, wouldn’t you? Jesus came and lived and died and rose again, so that we could live unhindered by all types of Death.

So, this Christmas—let’s live into the Spirit of Christmas. The one Ann Voskamp told us about:

Maybe the Christmas Spirit is letting go—to let the Spirit move.

Maybe the Christmas Spirit—is about letting the Spirit heal you.

Maybe the Christmas Spirit—means: Reconcile for Christmas.

This Christmas, let’s let it all fly into the face of Fear and reconcile—to each other, to ourselves, to the Church and God.

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

One of my favorite things about this time of year is getting to pick out Christmas gifts for the people that I love. Over the past few years, more and more people have begun to compile Gift Guides, which feature ethically-made gifts and/or small businesses that empower people who are oppressed and marginalized. Everyone from Sarah Bessey to Glennon Doyle to Ann Voskamp have published blog posts filled with links to businesses and causes worth supporting.

This year, I have done the same.

Here are a few businesses I believe in and who I am giving my money to as I buy my family and friends Christmas gifts which they will love and which will empower people instead of Corporate America:


Mercy House

My favorites:

How they empower & support women:

Mercy House empowers women in maternity homes in Kenya by providing them with a sustainable income through jewelry-making. When we buy the jewelry the women make, we help them raise their children into a brighter future!

JusTea

My favorites:

How they empower & support people:

JusTea makes fair-trade, ethically-made tea by hiring tea farmers in Kenya. So far, they have created over 200 sustainable jobs for working youth aged 15-24, whose work is often casual or not sustainable.

The Bud Co.

My favorites:

  • Sow + Dew Journal — This is a journal designed to help women live out their true identity in Christ.

How they empower &  support women:

The Bud Co. was created by two women who believe that women are at their best when they are living out of their God-given identity. Ashley and Shannon launched The Bud Co. with their mission “to equip the everyday woman to live her everyday in a manner worthy of the calling she’s been charged with (Eph. 4:1).”

(Plus, I’ll be featured in the Sow + Dew journal, along with dozens of other exceptional people you will definitely want to hear from!)

Do Good Shop

My favorites:

How they empower & support people:

Do Good Shop is a nonprofit, social enterprise marketplace whose proceeds “benefit vulnerable people who are escaping injustice & poverty through safe and ethical artisan employment.” Use your money to vote for ethically-made products!

Thistle Farms

My favorites:

How they empower & support women:

Thistle Farms employs women who are survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. They even go one step further and provide safe housing, sustainable income, and a community of advocates and peers. Support the farm to help them empower more women!

Starfish Project

My favorites:

How they empower & support women:

Starfish Project helps exploited women experience freedom, establish independence, and develop careers. 100% of proceeds are invested back into the goal and mission of the organization: to restore hope to exploited women and girls.

DoTERRA

My favorites:

How they empower & support people:

DoTERRA is the leading essential oils company in the world and is helping people revolutionize their healthcare by providing more affordable, natural healthcare options to families. By working with farmers around the world, doTERRA provides them with sustainable income to raise their families and support their community. doTERRA also provides sustainable income to their Wellness Advocates like me (and you!), who help get the word out about their amazing products!


I hope this list has helped you and you find that special something for all of your special someones!

What are your favorite ethically-made products and/or small businesses providing sustainable income to people who are oppressed and marginalized? Let me know in the comments section!