What an 8-day week this is – more good to great stuff than one often finds in a couple months! It starts with Palm Sunday, one of my favorite annual celebrations. Then comes our Maundy (Holy) Thursday Journey to the Cross at noon and in the evening (check out the virtual experience here and then make plans to join the live-better-than-virtual experience today: https://www.stl-eastpointe.org/2022/04/04/welcome-to-journey-to-the-cross/). Good Friday’s Noon Communion Devotions are always special … along with the extra hour I spend in the sanctuary for prayer and some exceptional visits. That night’s communion service will feature drama and special music – and afterwards we will help pack STL’s holiday food baskets before a late night dinner date (oh, the sweet memories of these meals over the years with special friends). Somewhere that day we will also say “Happy Birthday Rachel” to the daughter-in-law who is a great blessing to our family. Saturday includes helping distribute Easter dinners to about 80 families and getting the sanctuary ready for Easter. Sunday morning is packed and joyous and the afternoon follows with a much appreciated family gathering (which undoubtedly will include a nap). Monday the office is closed, but taxes are due.
Any wonder why the title of today’s spiritual encouragement is called “Sweet Squeeze”?
But to be honest with you, I would not have it any other way. This the by far the best week of the year. The worship experiences … the interactions with people … the times of personal reflection … are difficult to match. Holy Week the past two years was filled with creative experiences that contained special and unforeseen blessings, but this year I am joyously saying “welcome back” to the in-person blessings. Both our special Easter offering to STL and our income tax checks are expressions of gratitude (to church and state) for God in Christ’s blessed activity in each (If you would like to express your similar gratitude in a gift to STL, you can go to: https://www.stl-eastpointe.org/2015/07/13/mission-support/). Too much going on to call this a normal 7-day week.
At the risk of some crying “blasphemy” I’ll even turn some ancient Beatles lyrics into a worship song. “Eight days a week I love you. Eight days a week is not enough to show I care. Oh, I need your love, Lord – guess you know it’s true. Know you want my love, Lord, just like I need you. Hold me, love me, hold me, love me, I ain’t got nothin’ but love, Lord, eight days a week.” (ca. 1964) Sweet is this 8-day week with all of this lovin’ squeezed in.
And just in case you need to be reminded why this week is called both holy and sweet, allow me to remind you (because we all need the reminder). “Jesus Christ our Lord was delivered up for our trespasses (on Good Friday) and raised for our justification (on Easter)” (Romans 4.25). “If Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile, and we are still in our sins … But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15.16, 20).
I think I’ll even take the risk of squeezing in one more sweet verse. Here we have Jesus himself speaking. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11.25-26)
At this point, instead of trying to squeeze any more sweet words out of my pen, I’ll simply close with a prayer that all who read this will be blessed this week as they are sweetly squeezed in the loving arms of our risen Christ. The words are not mine, but those of Keith and Kristyn Getty. “O word of God so clear and true renew our mins to trust in You and give us the Bread of Life that we may know the risen Christ. O love of God so unrestrained refresh our souls in Jesus’ name. Let us reflect Your sacrifice that we may know the risen Christ. May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit make us one. In holiness let us unite that we may know the risen Christ.”
And a question … will Good Friday worship followed by a worshipful celebration of Christ’s resurrection be a “sweet squeeze” for you … or just “sweet” … or not quite “squeezed” in?