Service of Nails
At the Service of Nails at our church on Good Friday, everyone is given a large nail as they enter. Then at the appropriate time in the service, the congregants walk to the altar and throw their nails into a metal bucket. The noise of the nails hitting the bucket resounds throughout the sanctuary. It is a very moving moment and the sound goes on and on and on as the worshippers come to the altar and throw their nails.
From my perspective in the choir loft, I have a close-up view of the process. It is interesting to note that a number of people bend down to put their nails in the bucket as if they are trying to minimize the ringing of their nail hitting the bucket. But for me, part of the impact of the service is that it is my sin/s that drove the nails into the cross, and if I were to minimize the sound, it would be as if I were trying to minimize the enormity of the fact that Jesus' agonizing death on the cross was for me.
CROWN OF THORNS
"The soldiers, having braided a crown from thorns, set it
on his head, threw a purple robe over him…" John 19:2 (TM)
visiting in Edmonton, Alberta, we spent some time at the Muttart Conservatory, with its perfectly beautiful collection
of plants and flowers—both tropical, temperate and
arid, along with a show room that changes periodically. In the arid section, we
noticed the crown of thorns cactus, which brought a graphic picture to our
minds of the pain endured by Christ before and during His crucifixion. But on
the day of our visit, the torturous thorns were adorned with delicate red
Christ's substitutionary death on the cross, the painful, suffering
humiliation, was the propitiation, the payment for my sin and for yours, by the
spotless Lamb of God. But from His drops of blood my redemption has blossomed.
Because He died, I can live, through the mercy and grace of God, and my faith
reaches up to meet the Love that stretches toward each one of us.
is all his idea and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do
it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we
did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing."
Ephesians 2:8,9 (TM)
of ours has a teen-aged son who, due to an instant of poor judgment, was
terribly burned. Following months of surgeries, therapy, and pain, the young
man is making slow, but steady progress. Now the bills are coming due. Although
the father is hopeful that insurance will cover many of the expenses, the
financial cost will be substantial. But the father, with a film of tears over
his eyes, said to us that the financial strain is nothing compared to the life
of his son.
Jesus hung on the cross so many years ago, his life was the price paid for my
sin. There was no operation, no therapy that would bring me to God's standard
of holiness; only the sinless Son of Man, who came not to be served, but to
serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt. 20:28 [NIV]), could
make the sacrifice that offers salvation to me. But Jesus, knowing the pain He
would have to endure, was obedient to the will of God the Father, thinking that
His sacrifice was nothing compared to what would be gained.
"When they came to the place called the
Skull, there they crucified him." Lk. 23:33a
visiting our Kansas
daughter and son-in-law, we had the opportunity to visit a marvelous exhibit of
treasures from the Kremlin. Many of the displays were of religious icons of one
kind or another, almost all fabulously encrusted with gold and precious jewels.
The grandeur was almost mind-numbing in its magnificence as we walked from one
to the next.
see displays such as that one, or see beautiful steeples on top of church
spires, or lovely pieces of jewelry crafted in the shape of a cross, I
sometimes wonder what we have made of the cruel, wooden instrument of torture
that was used by the Romans as a method of execution.
because of the victory that Easter brings, the cross has become a symbol of
God's love, of Jesus' sacrifice, of reconciliation and pardon. Only love of
that magnitude could transform something as hideous as Golgotha's
cross into something as beautiful as my salvation, encrusted with the jewels of
hope, grace, and eternal life.
is not here; he has risen, just as he said." Matthew 28: 6a(KJ)
As we stood watching the sun rise over the ocean on Easter
morning, the minister paused in his remarks and had us all turn to enjoy the
magnificence of the sight. Once the glorious ball of fire rose above the
horizon, its pathway was emblazoned across the water. As I watched, it seemed
to be reaching directly to me. I know that each person who marveled at that
spectacular sunrise had the identical experience. To each of us, it appeared
that the reflection that spanned the ocean was directed particularly to each
on that phenomenon made me aware of how the message of Easter, the message of
the risen Savior, has both an individual and a universal significance. Though
the death of the spotless Lamb of God was for the sins of all
the world, until we acknowledge that the sacrifice of God's Son was for
us as individuals, we have not fully appreciated its meaning. Until the
resurrection account reaches from the heart of God to deep within each of our
own hearts, it is just a story. But when we bow in humble acceptance of God's
wondrous provision for our sin, then the resurrection sunrise inaugurates not
only a day, but also a way of life that seeks to honor the Lord. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!