Hosanna to Hallelujah

file9701250415795

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” – John 12:13

From ancient times Christians have brought palm branches home from church on Palm Sunday.  Some place them on the wall behind a cross or sacred picture.  Farmers would bury palm branches in the corners of their fields.
As time went on, many people added a twist to this tradition by weaving the palms into a cross, a picture frame, or a flower. Some of these were very elaborate, requiring considerable craftsmanship which was passed on in families from generation to generation.

The holiest week of the year begins today.  But the world doesn’t stop.  Everything goes on, all the regular TV programs, the regular work schedule, income taxes, all of our daily chores.  So…if I want this to be a “holy week” what do I do?  I decide.

I decide to start my day with prayer.

I decide to spend quiet time with God’s Word.

I decide to submit, in all relationships.

I decide to go from shouting Hosanna (save me) to singing Hallelujah (Praise the Lord)!

Most of all I decide to acknowledge that Jesus came to meet my needs, not my expectations.

Bring The Rain – Unanswered Prayers

DSC_0758
Mom and Daughter on Easter Morning

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Prayer is God’s appointed means to receive what is best for us and others and to realize what Paul called “what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2) Sometimes a delay is necessary to fit into God’s overall program.

Last year my father in law lost his battle with cancer.  The family spent countless days praying for his recovery, that God would spare him and restore him to perfect health. Those prayers went unanswered. They were prayers not so much for him but for our own selfish desires, we wanted more time, we were not ready to lose him.  But I learned a lot during the last weeks of his life as he and I talked about life and death.  We weren’t ready for what God’s will was, but he was.  He talked about the life God had blessed him with and he helped me understand that God’s will, God’s plan, was far greater than our own.  In the days following his death I was able to reminisce with my children, nieces and nephews, and share with them the insights that their grandfather had shared with me.  From this, a glorious thing happened with one of my nephews.  In the past few years as his son and daughter got older, he had forgotten how important family was and that being a parent means that you are your child’s favorite toy, and that children spell love T-I-M-E.  Through this lose that he felt so deeply, he became a better father.

Weeks later my mother in law was told that she had advanced cancer. We were told that she may not make it to Christmas, the family took this hard.  I’ve prayed for my mother in law more than any other person in my life. I’ve prayed that she would be healed completely. I’ve prayed that she would receive wisdom and strength in life situations. It seems like many of those prayers have gone unanswered. But are they really unanswered, or is God using my mother in laws life to stretch her daughters faith as well as the rest of the family’s faith?

Perhaps he does it so that the soul will remain humble or grow in humility; perhaps to purify it; perhaps to make it hunger and thirst all the more so as to satisfy it all the more. Or he may delay for other reasons which we cannot even guess, but which will be revealed to us some day and show us God’s mercy. This is why it happens that a soul, who has been asking God all his life to overcome some fault, remains with it until perhaps his last days, and finally sees the prayer answered, even abundantly answered.

It’s now April 2013, and my mother in law is still enjoying everyday of her life and all the tender moments that make up each of her days.  Recently she made the decision to stop treatments.  She wants her days to be filled with quality not quantity.  The treatments were wiping her out for 3 weeks only to have a few days of feeling good.  And we support her wishes.  We all have been blessed to have this extra time with her.

On Easter Sunday I was able to sit and visit alone with her before I took her out to Easter dinner with family.  We talked about the time she has been given, family, lessons she has learned, and we prayed.  She is truly happy and at peace, her only wish, to smell the breeze of a Spring day one more time.  She talked of her love for her family and all the blessed moments they gave her.  She is ready to go to her Father and be with her husband that I know she misses terribly.

There is a song by Mercy Me called, “Bring the Rain.” When I first heard that song I couldn’t even imagine how much spiritual maturity it would take for someone to sing, that was until an Easter Sunday morning talk with mom.

“Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free.
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain,
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain.”

 

The King Rises Again

20130331-200142.jpg

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

The Gospel of Matthew (28:1-7)