The Cross: Where Stories Are Changed
Day 1: Everybody has a story. On Palm Sunday, Jack helped us focus on one part of Jesus’ story – His entrance into Jerusalem. Crowds were screaming in Jesus’ favor, celebrating Him for what they believed would be His story; a King who would oust Rome and make Israel great again. From their perspective, it was the story they wanted and needed. One scene is of a crowd screaming Jesus’ favor. Yet a few days later another scene takes place. An angry mob shouts, “Crucify him!” Read John 19: 30, 40-42: A cross of execution, a tomb of death, the loss of hope itself. At this point, it looks like the story of Jesus was over. Death is final, right? Yet, we know it doesn’t end there. And Jesus tells us that our story, even when it looks bleak, doesn’t end. Consider a time in your life when the future looked bleak? What were you telling yourself, what was the story in your head? Did you believe you were in the final chapter of your story destined to live physically, emotionally and spiritually in this reality forever?
Day 2: When reading John 19, we know there is another chapter, but Jesus’ family and disciples did not; they were in the middle of their story, and their perspective was Jesus’s life was over. As Cory said Sunday, Easter rewrote Jesus’ story, their story, and has the power to rewrite every story since. How has Jesus changed your life? One of the next steps from the weekend was to write a brief phrase of how Jesus has changed your story. Doing this as a spiritual practice can lead to praise and gratitude, hope and faith for the future, and/or bring you to prayer for the areas of our story currently in need of the hope and power of Easter. Take a few minutes to recall life before and life after.
Day 3: The empty tomb speaks to the reality that stories change. Our story can change and that transformation is a real hope. Before we can identify with what the empty tomb can mean, we have to embrace it as a place of darkness, isolation, and death. There is something real that we have been saved from. On Easter we shared “Cardboard Testimonies” and
baptisms. Both spoke to the reality that we each have tombs and the darkness in our lives. We all have a past. What are the stones in your life that keep you entombed, keep you from trusting more in God? What steps could you take today, to acknowledge them to God and to the people you’re in community with? Identifying the stones is the first step in seeing them rolled away.
Day 4: When do you appreciate the sun? After days and days of rain, right. There is something innate in us. We take our health for granted until we are sick. How do we unlearn this pattern? To actually do so, we first have to see that areas of wholeness and transformation in our lives. Our lives are different now than they were 2-5 years ago. There was some aspect of your life that you thought could not or would not ever change….yet it did. God did it. To cultivate gratitude and wisdom, we can remember God and this change in our lives. Reflecting on how God has worked in the past in your life, gives you momentum and faith that transformation is possible. That is how spiritual transformation works. It is a journey of finding health and wholeness in one area only to discover another area of life that God is ready to transform. Refer back to Day 3 and the stones in your life. Pray today with renewed hope and belief that God has been and is working in you.
Day 5: Yesterday, we looked at finding the courage and faith to go on even after we have discovered yet another area of our life that is in need of transformation. Read John 20:26-29 & John 21:15-17. Both Thomas and Peter are incredible examples of the ongoing journey of spiritual transformation. Both were direct disciples of Jesus, walked with him, ate with him, lived with him for three years, yet both continued to have clear next steps to take. Steps Jesus pointed out to them and then called them to take in order to come out of their darkness. At LSCC, we ask – what is your next step? What stone is keeping you isolated in the darkness of your current tomb? What is possibly the next step you need to take? Is it a conversation with someone or possibly prayer and journaling. Don’t remain in this darkness, sin, struggle…this tomb. Ask the Father for the next step. And like the Easter story, you will find new life.