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Monday, April 2, 2012

Off to a Promising Start

Yesterday was April 1st, also known as April Fool's day. It was also Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week.

During our pastor's children's message, he asked the children what the crowd did when Jesus rode by on the donkey. Most responded with the predictable answers of "yelled Hosanna" and "waved palm leaves." Then one boy yelled, "took off their clothes."

File this under "Awkward Pastoral Moments."

Fortunately, the congregation composed itself quickly as did the pastor, and even clarified that the crowd took off their coats or outter robes to lay before Jesus. Phew!

Palm Sunday used to be my favorite holiday because it was the big party before things went terribly wrong for Jesus. It seemed like things were off to a really great Jerusalem Debut.
Have you ever begun a new relationship, project, or joined a new group full of anticipation and excitement at the possibilites? Did it ever go south quickly?

Unfortunately, it's been a frequent experience for me. However, given the alternative between still trying, still having hope, and anticipating the best versus staying away in safety, I'll choose risking heartbreak.

The end of our pastor's sermon was poignant. He confessed how a lot of his own personal dreams had not materialized, that he'd been forced to be the "supporting role" for others to pursue their dreams, while his own went unfulfilled. And really, who can say that they can relate? Uh-huh. All of us.

A few days after this, the pastor was praying and still mulling over the disappointment. Then he felt God press upon him an interesting question (and this is from what I remember, so the exact quote is not correct). "Will you continue to let your own dreams die if it means fulfilling hope for others? After all, that's why I sent my Son."

Ouch. That's what life is about - laying down our own lives for others. Jesus laid his life down, paying a huge price, in order that we could seek God's forgiveness and be "made acceptable" through Jesus' perfect sacrifice.

Our society tells us over and over to "seek our bliss" and "do what makes you happy." Yet most of the people who pursue these dreams find they are empty and lack meaning. Loving oneself and pleasure seeking never end well. Loving others provides depth.

"The strongest evidence of love is sacrifice."

Today start your week off well, especially if you find the opportunity to give up your easier way for what is difficult and to the benefit of others.

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