Tag Archives: Hope


This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.  As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law. Luke 23:54-56

Holy Saturday. The day Jesus was completely dead.

One of the concepts that I keep coming across this year is hope. The first emphasis of Advent is Hope. Since then, hope has continued to show up in conversations, books, and scripture studies. I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to have hope, or to be hopeless.

In thinking about today, I was struck with the gravity of hopelessness that the friends of Jesus must have experienced on this day… the day after Jesus is buried. All of their hope for their future had been wrapped up in this man. Many of them really believed he was the only hope for their lives and their nation. He was the answer to their freedom. He was the one bringing about the kingdom of heaven. He was it!

But then he was dead.

Hope was dead.

Yet, if they had paid closer attention, they would have realized what was going on… Jesus told them this would happen (Luke 18:31-34). There was a greater plan that went even beyond that for which they could hope. Jesus had not actually left them without hope!

But Saturday still happened- I can’t imagine a day on which contrast between hope and hopeless was ever greater. In some ways, I believe I need Saturday to really understand Sunday. The hope that is resurrected on Sunday is made so much more significant because of Saturday! So while I am reminded what life could be like without hope, I am also encouraged to realize that God does not ever leave us without hope. Even on the worst day ever, there was still a glimmer of hope.IMG_0093

Words Are Important

Something really awesome happened on Sunday. We were reading from John 13 and one of the kids caught what seemed like a very little phrase… Here is what happened.

We were going along, reading a little at a time, and asking questions; Who are the characters? What is happening? What is the setting? We started at verse 21 and we were headed to chapter 14 verse 1, when one of the girls suddenly had a very perplexed look on her face.

“Wait!” She interjected, “Wasn’t it already night time? Aren’t they at dinner? Why does it say ‘and it was night?’ Why does it need to say that?”

Enter awesome moment!

“Well,” I said, “The writer is using his words on purpose, every word is trying to help us understand something. So what would ‘it was night’ help us understand about what is happening?”

This led us into a whole discussion about what “night” communicates to us…. Our basic conclusion: the things we are generally the most afraid of seem to happen at night, when it’s dark. We tend to be the most nervous and scared at night. DSCN5705.JPG

At this point of the story in scripture, we decided the author is trying to help us understand that this is one of the darkest, scariest moments for the disciples… Jesus is even described as “troubled.” Jesus knows what is happening next, but the disciples are still clueless! But they are getting nervous about things… they are headed into one of the scariest times of their lives. But that is what makes Jesus’ words in John 14:1 so amazing.

In the middle of the scariest moment, Jesus says this:

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

When we understand and really look at the words in the passage, I think it brings a new significance out for us. I’ve seen and heard John 14:1 a lot. But the time on Sunday really paying attention to the words around it was significant.

IMG_0530As we wrapped up on Sunday, I asked one last question, “What does this mean for us?” This is what we concluded: In the middle of the night, when everything seems to be the most threatening, the scariest, the darkest, we need to hear Jesus say, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” We don’t need to be overcome by fear; we can trust Jesus even in the darkest time.

It was a really good lesson in children’s church on Sunday…

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday*

John 13:2-14:2

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

*Traditionally in the Christian Church, this day is known as Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum (from which we get our English word mandate), from a verb that means “to give,” “to entrust,” or “to order.” The term is usually translated “commandment,” from John’s account of this Thursday night. (Maundy Thursday)

Psalm 22

The scripture reading today comes from Psalm 22.

As you read, consider these questions:

How do you related to the passage? What does it tell you about God? What response do you have? What do you think God wants you to learn from the passage?

God must bring us to a point- I cannot tell you how it will be, but he will do it- where, through a deep and dark experience, our natural power is touched and fundamentally weakened, so that we no longer dare trust ourselves. He has had to deal with some of us very strangely, and take us through difficult and painful ways, in order to get us there… But then at last it is that he can begin to use us… All is in darkness, but it is only for a night. It must indeed be a full night, but that is all. Afterwards you will find that everything is given back to you in glorious resurrection; and nothing can measure the difference between what was before and what is now! —Watchman Nee

Suffering Servant

Today’s reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Theme for the week: Hope

Questions to think about: What stands out to you in this passage? What do you hear God saying through His scripture? How do you respond to God? How might this passage challenge/encourage you to hope?

Tubie Friends

Remember my buddy, Sam? Well he, his family, and his friends have a project I want to share with you. The project is called Tubie Friends. Here is their description of the project:

Tubie Friends was started by a group of moms whose children have been or are currently using a feeding tube as a primary source of nutrition. We’re currently working with several Children’s Hospitals across the country to provide stuffed animals with feeding tubes to as many children as possible, preferably before they go in for surgery. We’ve seen what a difference something like this has made for our own kids and want to help make the transition from eating by mouth to eating through a tube as easy as possible. In addition to bringing comfort to the child, these “Tubie Friends” can also be used as a teaching tool for family, friends and caregivers.

They were featured on the local news over the weekend and I think you should be able to see the report! Click on the link below to see the report. This is an awesome project and I’m honored to know people who are making a difference!

Tubie Friends

A Lesson From Sam

I want to introduce you to Sam. Sam is a really awesome seven-year-old in our congregation. He’s funny, creative, and insightful. He also has mind-boggling medical challenges. But this kid continues to amaze me. I haven’t known him for very long, but I am really glad that I do know him!

Recently Sam has been in and out of the hospital because of his medical needs. And when I say “in and out,” I mean for like a week or so at a time. It was basically coming down to complications with his feeding tube and his stomach’s ability to process nutrition. It has caused a lot of pain and a lot of concern. Sam has some great doctors, but the complications and issues are crazy. Everyone has been doing all they can for him, but nothing was really working like they wanted it to.

Then there was yesterday… Here’s what his mom posted on their CaringBridge Journal this morning:

Sam has now been getting g-feeds (through his stomach) for a little over 24 hours.  Along with formula and meds through his feeding tube, he’s also been eating small meals throughout the day by mouth.  This is where it gets good.. 

When we last tried that, as recently as Sunday, he was retching hard after no more than 4-5 bites and complaining of tummy pain because his formula was backing up into his stomach.  After a rough morning yesterday, where we ended up having to stop his feeds for a little while and then resume with diluted formula instead of full strength (30cal/oz), we managed to get through the day at a much higher rate than we’d thought possible.  He did need several short breaks from feeds throughout the day but ended up going to bed pain free that night!!  No levsin (pain), no phenergan (nausea), nothing.  From everything we’ve seen, this shouldn’t have been possible..  There’s no explanation for the success of this other than God answering our prayer.  We could not have made this happen on our own. 

Even if he doesn’t continue to tolerate g-feeds long term, at the very least it’s buying us enough time to come up with a plan for how to proceed.  We’re home, not stuck in the hospital.  Sam’s no longer on the brink of dehydration like he was on Tuesday.  He’s still not taking in enough calories to maintain his current weight, let alone gain, but it’s a much better start than we were expecting.  Praise God! 

Sam’s advice for the day is that sometimes you just have to try as hard as you can and never give up.  That’s exactly what we’re doing.  Thanks for all of your support, and especially for all of the prayers that have been going up on Sam’s behalf.  This is definitely not something we could have accomplished on our own.   😀

“Never give up…” I can tell you that Sam really does believe that. He also really does believe that God is the One who helps us never give up. The times I visited Sam in the hospital or sent him messages on facebook, he has amazed me by his simple trust that God really can and will help him. And in the middle of all of his complications, he has joy. Circumstances are not always what he wants. He will still have to try again tomorrow. But he is teaching me that when God is with me, I really can keep going. God really does give me what I need to “never give up.”