HOPE for the HAPLESS

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


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Winter is Past

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
[Song of Solomon 2:10-12]

101_2567Are you ready for the Victoria Day long weekend? Who am I kidding? After a winter like this last one, who isn’t? For many people in Canada this annual holiday marks the unofficial start of summer … or at least the summer mindset. Sometimes I think that we try to hurry the warm days of summer along by all agreeing to use our barbeques all weekend long. It couldn’t hurt, could it?

Even though the actual start of summer will still be a full month away, people all across our country will use this coming Victoria Day weekend to live like its summer already. Along with the aforementioned backyard cooking will come patios with all their long-forgotten furniture, music, family get-together’s and just a general feeling of happiness that the worst is finally over.

And lest you think I’m upset that people would be “jumping the gun” and letting loose too soon, let me assure you I am not. In fact, if anything, they’re late to the party! For we’ve already begun our celebrations in Easter. We’ll still be celebrating when the long weekend comes around. But we’re not celebrating the end of winter and the coming of summer. We’ve got bigger things to be joyful about. For Easter marks the end of death and the beginning of everlasting Life!

In Easter we throw open the doors and windows of the cold and oppressive life of sin and joyously step into the bright sunshine of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. From the open and empty tomb flows a refreshing breeze full of the promise of new life and beautiful days ahead. In Easter we are guaranteed the food of everlasting life, at a banquet table that never empties. In Easter we look forward to the grandest family reunion ever seen. All our long lost and distant relatives together again for a backyard party at God’s own house.

But aren’t we jumping the gun ourselves in celebrating all this already?

No!

For where the bright summer promises of meteorologists must always be taken with a handy umbrella and a backup plan, the promises of God in Christ are iron-clad. They are already ours. The moment the angels announced the good news over the rolled away stone and the empty grave clothes the party was already well under-way. And it is only picking up. Never feel bad about enjoying it now … it’s been a long time coming!


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Bringing a Tear to the “I”

The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.  [Psalm 126]

rainy windowAs I sit here writing this there is a warm rain hitting window. And while the rain can make some people blue, I don’t think there would be many today who would mourn its coming.

Indeed, there are so many people out there (trust me I talk to them almost every day!) who have been ready to shed tears over how long this winter has been. Every new day with the same old blanket of snow and ice seems to bury our souls just a little more.

And so I, like many of you I would bet, welcome this springtime rain as heavenly tears of joy. Even if it means that with the melting of the snow there will be mud and flooding, and salt and garbage to deal with tomorrow.

The Easter season is also for many, a mixed bag of emotions. There are the slow doleful days of Lent gradually building in their intensity until the repentant heart can barely take any more. There are the raw and cleansing tears of Good Friday with all its holy grief. There are the powerful tears of joy, impossible to hold back, at the sight of the risen and victorious Lord. Yes, in the good and the bad, heavenly tears abound. Tears that melt the winter of sin and death, ushering in the spring-time of new life and the promise of everlasting summer.

And so we once again prepare to welcome tears of sorrow, death, and dying; tears of fear and loneliness as they are turned once more into tears of joy, new life, hope and blessed reunions with those who have gone before us.

In preparing to celebrate Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection before the world, we know that there will be unpleasant splash-back. There will be mud flung and garbage cast our way. The world doesn’t want to be reminded of the mess that still needs to be cleaned up. But we don’t mind, because now that Easter has come everything is changed. Life has swallowed up death. Hope has defeated fear, and one day every cold winter tear will be wiped away leaving only Joy behind in our eternal summer!