Friday, April 22, 2011

On Friday a thief. On Sunday a king.

"Hear ye, and tremble before Him who made heaven and earth tremble. He who hung the earth in its place is fixed there. He who fixed the heavens is fixed upon the cross. He who made all things fast is made fast upon the tree. The Master has been insulted, God has been murdered, the King of Israel has been slain by an Israelitish hand. O strange murder, strange crime! The Master has been treated in unseemly fashion, His body naked, and not even deemed worthy of a covering, that His nakedness might not be seen. Therefore the lights of heaven turned away, and the day darkened, that it might hide Him who was stripped upon the cross. 
(Melito of Sardis, Homily on the Passion, 96)

  The day is overcast and sullen, with a hint of chill weaving her way through the breeze. Bradford pears and dogwoods are blooming around town in their bright whites and elegant pinks. As I sit here listening to the rustling of the strong branches and newly grown leaves, I cannot help but consider the weight of the coming days in the Christian church calendar. Melito understood this well in the 2nd century, and preached to his congregations in Sardis about the disgrace Jesus endured. As an early father of my same faith, I have included the quote above to resonate on this Good Friday.

As a follower of Jesus, I use this week to remember and celebrate the life, death, and resurrection that God followed through with, making His promises of old valid, secure, and new.

I am the first to admit trust issues concerning my creator. How can I believe some concept of a god so intangible and other from my human form and consciousness? How can I believe that same god entered into such a similar state as my own weakness and fallibility for any purpose? How can I believe that the one and only God decided to be shamed by his own creation, embarrassed on behalf of sinners, and ridiculed despite perfection?

And what we got was a man. A carpenter’s son. A brother and friend.

We could not understand or hope for anything so beautiful. So we discounted it, killed it, buried it away. Yet, like spring, life burst forth triumphantly and emphatically. Jesus Christ overcame the tomb.

A God. A helper and healer. A Hope, who flipped the script on the societal standards, loving and living in the company of His own images, from the rich righteous men to the poor scoundrels.

I am a rich man. I am a scoundrel.

I had the pleasure of seeing John Mark McMillan in concert last Saturday night, a rainy night, at the Jammin Java in Vienna, VA. He is probably most known for penning the song “How He Loves” made mainstream by the David Crowder Band. His most recent album “The Medicine” has been on heavy rotation for me for the past year or so.

One of the standout tracks is McMillan’s own resurrection hymn “Death In His Grave,” describing the need for sacrifice to pay the price of our separation and disobedience of God, and that through His own death, Christ buries all of death in its grave. Lyrically insightful and musically powerful, this song has been my personal anthem for Easter this year.

 I hope to live my life more thankful and transformed, knowing that in “desperate places, He paid our wages, one time once and for all.”

Whoever reads this, here are some songs that get me thinking, reflecting, and praising this time of year and throughout my days.

>>> Songs Out of the Tomb<<<
1.) Before The Throne of God - Anathallo
2.) The Danse - Caedmon's Call
3.) Majesty - Charlie Hall
4.) The Wonderful Cross - Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman
5.) Only You - David Crowder Band
6.) The Stand - Hillsong United
7.) Not What My Hands Have Done - Indelible Grace Music
8.) Sacrifice - The Insyderz
9.) Worlds Apart - Jars of Clay
10.) Death In His Grave (Performance) - John Mark McMillan
11.) Grace and Love - Kutless
12.) Beautiful Scandalous Night - Leigh Nash and Bebo Norman
13.) In Christ Alone - Newsboys
14.) Louder Than The Mob - The O.C. Supertones
15.) Praise to the Lord - Page CXVI
16.) You're Beautiful - Phil Wickham
17.) Redemption - Switchfoot
18.) How Deep the Father's Love for Us - Worship