Good Friday dawn breaks and my search continues, a search begun at Maundy Thursday service.
This communion preparation time stirred my heart. Well, kinda slayed it actually. From the swallowing of bread and wine, to the crucifixion reading, to the woeful homilies and on to the candle snuffing and departing—the darkness rang out loud and seemingly true.
As we were silently exiting the hushed sanctuary, we came upon a large raw-wood cross in the narthex. We were handed a nail and a hammer. I began to hammer my nail into the cross. Others were hammering their nails into it as well. The pounding nailing was so strong in my heart that I practically ran to my car. I knew a transaction had taken place. A holy transaction. My friend Paula and I could not even muster much of a goodbye. We were close to sobbing. She managed to whisper, “I’ll see you Sunday.” Both of us knew that we were desperate for tomb resurrection. Sitting at my steering wheel, I wept for so many things but also knew there were tears for I-don’t-know-what.
A Heart Kindled
Good Friday sunrise is here. I go to light my fireplace. There it was, the warm fire kindling something deep. Just as Peter warmed himself, so was I. We criticize Peter for his denial. Yet, I saw that I had denied my Lord so, so many times – uncaringly unaware. When the cock-a-doodle came, Peter recognized the betrayal of his denials. And it crushed him. Yet how many times has rooster dawn broke and I have not seen any of my denials? All my “Me? Oh, I don’t know Him!” moments, even days and yes, years of denying Him.
This. This is what I nail to the narthex cross. My betrayals. My unseeing. My unbelief. My unbowed head and heart. My stubborn cold. And you know what? His warmth and His mercy came. And it flooded me with kind, amazing grace. And that piercing nail? It became holy and forgiving. And it no longer seemed rusty and tetanus-looking. It became beautiful. It became holy. It became righteous.
A Heart Like Peter
I go on to read that an angel at the tomb spoke of Peter, by name, on resurrection Sunday.
“Now go and give this message to His disciples, including Peter: ‘He is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’”
Mark 16:7 GNT
He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve.
1 Corinthians 15:5 NLT
Jesus sought Peter… By. His. Name. Knowing Peter’s angst and his denials, Jesus sought him. And He seeks me. He seeks all of us deniers and cheaters. His bleeding love and His broken-bread heart, well, it searches for the one out of the ninety-nine. “And if He finds it, I tell you the truth, He will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!” (Mt. 18:13 NLT)
And I am positive that He knows my sheep name also. How? That transaction. That seismic shift. That rolling away of heavy stone heart. It’s real and true. And my resurrected heart knows it. I am changed. I am home again.
I write this as my Easter present to you. Really, His Easter present to you. Dear Shepherd-Pastors, you are letting our Savior live through you. You are indeed His hands, His feet, His mercy. You are bringing The Lord’s Prayer of “heaven to earth” to your parishioners. And it is redeeming and transforming us all. Thank you – oh, thank you – for your obedient bowing to His love story for His sheep. You are bringing His people home. And it is so holy sweet…