Allelujah!

Happy-Easter-Resized-Blog

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun: Alleluia!

The powers of death have done their worst;
But Christ their legions hath dispersed;
Let shouts of holy joy outburst: Alleluia!

The three sad days are quickly sped;
He rises glorious from the dead;
All glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!

He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise His triumphs tell! Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee,
From death’s dread sting Thy servants free,
That we may live, and sing to Thee: Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

~ Author of the words is unknown
Author of the music is
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

 

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Hallelujah! He Is Risen!

He Is Risen!

 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:19-22

 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26

Absent From the Body, Present With the Lord

My pastor, who has been battling pancreatic cancer the last few months, passed away last night.

It’s been hard to know how to pray the last few weeks as we’ve seen the effects of cancer continually decimate his body. We wanted him to have as many days with his family as possible, but we didn’t want him to have to suffer any more than necessary. My youngest son has frequently prayed that Pastor “would have as many good days as possible,” which I thought was probably the best way to pray in addition to asking for God’s will and grace for him and his family and all those who loved him.

As people arrived for prayer meeting last night, a few men were stationed at the church doors and would go out to greet people individually as they approached the building to let them know Pastor had passed away just a short time before. That was probably the best way to handle it rather than waiting for everyone to come in and then starting the evening with a shock moment, or having someone who didn’t know accidentally overhear it mentioned in the conversation of someone who did. This way everyone had a moment to react, absorb the news, and collect their thoughts for a moment before going in, and we could start the service more or less on the same page. One of our assistant pastors led us in singing a song Pastor Tom had requested often lately, “O The Deep, Deep Love.” Another of our men shared some Scripture, someone prayed, people in the congregation were given opportunity to  share Scripture that was comforting to them, we broke up into smaller groups to pray, and we sang “O The Deep, Deep Love” one more time.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

The comforting and sharing have continued through the night and into this morning on Facebook. It has been a great blessing to me, and I am sure to many others, as we’ve shared with each other through this journey, particularly in the last several hours. This extension of community has been both comforting and edifying as I’ve seen photos and read various thoughts, memories, Scriptures, and bits of song that people have shared.

I’ve only known Pastor Tom for four years. Two main things stand out to me about himself as a person and his ministry. One, he continually led (even gently pushed) us to be deeply grounded in the Bible and in our relationship to God: to see Him in the Scriptures, not to “surface” read the Bible or pray in cliches. He constantly encouraged us to make it real and make it deep. Secondly, he had a true pastor’s heart. He deeply cared for his people, would be with them through any trial as much as he could. When we came forward at the end of a service to join the church, my mother-in-law was with us in her wheelchair. He got down on one knee to speak to her face to face and tell her how he wanted to be her pastor. When my husband was facing his kidney surgery (they joked about being in the “one kidney club” – Pastor also had a kidney removed when he was younger), we had told him that I’d probably be more comfortable getting lost in a book while waiting than having someone outside the family with me – then I’d feel pressured to keep a conversation going. He understood. But he showed up at the hospital in the early hours just as we arrived and signed in, and we had a few minutes to chat and pray before we were called back. That meant a lot to both of us.

Two verses came to mind as we shared during prayer meeting last night. One was shared with me when my mother passed away and it ministered to me greatly then: Psalm 119:76: “Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.” This, among other things, is what I pray for Pastor Tom’s family. I am so thankful he was able to walk his two older daughters down the aisle at their weddings this summer and that they were all able to be there when he passed. Though we “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13), we do sorrow, “Sorrowing most of all …that they should see his face no more” (Acts 20:38) until we join him there. I know I felt it was much too soon when my mother passed away in her 60s: I can imagine that feeling is even more magnified when a father and husband passes away in his early 50s. Even trusting that this is God’s will and plan and rejoicing that he is with his Savior and out of pain, it still hurts in a way that only God can heal. Death is called an enemy (I Corinthians 15:26), and though its sting is removed and it’s “swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 15:54-57), grief is wrenching, and I pray for His special kindness and comfort for them and our church in the days and months to come.

The second was the verse I did share last night: not long before His own death, Jesus prayed, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). That’s where Pastor Tom is now – with Him who loved him since before he was even born, where he is, beholding His glory. Though we miss him, we rejoice and look forward to joining him there.

Craigs

I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,
When it was but the end of pulse and breath,
But now my eyes have seen that past the pain
There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.
Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,
For living’s such a temporary art.
And dying is but getting dressed for God,
Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.

 Calvin Miller

When you sailors see the haven before you, though you were mightily troubled before you could see any land, yet when you come near the shore and can see a certain land-mark, that contents you greatly. A godly man in the midst of the waves and storms that he meets with can see the glory of heaven before him and so contents himself. One drop of the sweetness of heaven is enough to take away all the sourness and bitterness of all the afflictions in the world. ~ Jeremiah Burroughs

“Come. See the Place Where Jesus Lay”

egrgrave2

Come, see the place where Jesus lay,
And hear angelic watchers say,
“He lives, Who once was slain:
Why seek the Living midst the dead?
Remember how the Savior said
That He would rise again.

”O joyful sound! O glorious hour,
When by His own almighty power
He rose and left the grave!
Now let our songs His triumph tell,
Who burst the bands of death and hell,
And ever lives to save.

The first begotten of the dead,
For us He rose, our glorious Head,
Immortal life to bring;
What though the saints like Him shall die,
They share their Leader’s victory,
And triumph with their King.

No more they tremble at the grave,
For Jesus will their spirits save,
And raise their slumbering dust
O risen Lord, in Thee we live,
To Thee our ransomed souls we give,
To Thee our bodies trust.

— Thomas Kelly

(Full version is here.)

Wishing you a blessed Easter, filled joy, hope, and love because of what our Lord has done for us.

Happy Resurrection Day!

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.  John 11:25.

empty-tomb-2.jpg
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun:
Alleluia!

The powers of death have done their worst;
But Christ their legions hath dispersed;
Let shouts of holy joy outburst:
Alleluia!

The three sad days are quickly sped;
He rises glorious from the dead;
All glory to our risen Head!
Alleluia!

He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise His triumphs tell!
Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee,
From death’s dread sting Thy servants free,
That we may live, and sing to Thee:
Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

~ Author Unknown

May you have a wonderful joyous, blessed Easter remembering the resurrection of our Lord and Savior!

The Week In Words

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Welcome to The Week In Words, where we share quotes from the last week’s reading. If something you read this past week  inspired you, caused you to laugh, cry, think, dream, or just resonated with you in some way, please share it with us, attributing it to its source, which can be a book, newspaper, blog, Facebook — anything that you read. More information is here.

I thought I’d share a few quotes related to Easter this week. Many of them have appeared on my blog in past years.

God expects from men something more…at such times, and that it were much to be wished for the credit of their religion as well as the satisfaction of their conscience that their Easter devotions would in some measure come up to their Easter dress. — Robert South

People say the cross is a sign of how much man is worth. That’s not true. The cross is a sign of how depraved we really are, that it took the death of God’s own Son. The only thing that could save a people like us was the death of God’s own Son under the wrath of His own Father paying the price, rising again from the dead. Powerful to say, this is the Gospel of Jesus. — Paul Washer

We greatly need the cheer of this precious Easter truth. We make too little of the place our Lord has gone to prepare for us. We rob ourselves greatly when we try to reduce heaven to a mere state of ecstatic feeling. We need the cheer which comes of having the eye of faith fixed on the better country and the city that hath the foundations. Such a certainty of an inheritance that is real and that cannot fade away goes far to mitigate the pangs which come of the fires and floods and disasters and frauds which so often despoil God’s people of their earthly possessions; for we know that the things seen are temporal, but the things not seen are eternal, and they are only a few heart-beats away. – E.P. Goodwin

IF you come to seek His face, not in the empty sepulchre, but in the living power of His presence, as indeed realizing that He has finished His glorious work, and is alive for evermore, then your hearts will be full of true Easter joy, and that joy will shed itself abroad in your homes. And let your joy not end with the hymns and the prayers and the communions in His house. Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, a fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words “Jesus lives!” and find in them the secret of calm expectation, the hope of eternal reunion. – John Ellerton

There are many tombs where we may be held if we succumb to the powers of sin and death. Hatred, self-pity, bitterness, resentment–these are tombs. By the power that raised Jesus Christ from that sealed and guarded tomb we may be delivered from whatever seals us off from life. Jesus came to give us life, nothing less than life, “abundant” life….Do you know someone you are praying for who is living in the darkness of such a tomb? Has it seemed that there is no more possibility of getting through to him than to someone buried? Resentment has sealed him off from any approach. Pray for the power of the resurrection to release him. Refuse, by the grace of God, to be held back by his bitterness. Then ask the Lord to help you to meet him next time in the consciousness of Christ risen. Instead of dreading the meeting because of the thought of former disastrous meetings, face it with joy. Christ is risen! Christ is risen! — Elisabeth Elliot, “Death Shall Not Hold Us,” from A Lamp For My Feet

If you’ve read anything that particularly spoke to you that you’d like to share, please either list it in the comments below or write a post on your blog and then put the link to that post (not your general blog link) in Mr. Linky below. I do ask that only family-friendly quotes be included. I hope you’ll visit some of the other participants as well and glean some great thoughts to ponder.

And please do comment even if you don’t have quotes to share!

Alleluia!

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right;
Faith and Hope triumphant say
Christ will rise on Easter Day.

– Phillips Brooks, An Easter Carol

empty-tomb-2.jpg

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun:
Alleluia!

The powers of death have done their worst;
But Christ their legions hath dispersed;
Let shouts of holy joy outburst:
Alleluia!

The three sad days are quickly sped;
He rises glorious from the dead;
All glory to our risen Head!
Alleluia!

He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise His triumphs tell!
Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee,
From death’s dread sting Thy servants free,
That we may live, and sing to Thee:
Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

~ Author Unknown

May you have a wonderful joyous, blessed Easter remembering the resurrection of our Lord and Savior!