Posts Tagged ‘resurrection story’

No Other God is Able to Deliver in This Way – Resurrection Day Reflection

409px-Simeon_Solomon_-_Shadrach_Meshach_Abednego

I’ve shared before that I love the vigil on Holy Saturday (the night before resurrection day). But one of my mostest favoritest parts of the vigil is the reading of the story of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego and their deliverance from the fiery furnace. If you haven’t read the story lately, it is well worth looking up in your Bible in Daniel 3:1-29 or you can read it online now at Bible Gateway.

The gist of it is that King Nebuchadnezzar wants everyone to worship a golden statue that he has set up and if they don’t he’s going to throw them in a “furnace of blazing fire,” which, of course, would mean death. But three young Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego serve only one God and refuse to worship the king’s statue.

Their defiance of the king gets him so mad that “his face is distorted” and he orders the furnace to be turned up seven times hotter! He has the three men bound and thrown in. The handlers that throw them in get killed by the flames because the furnace is so hot.

But when the king looks into the furnace he sees four men: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and another with appearance of a god, moving around, unbound, clearly still alive. The king is astonished and orders these “servant of The Most High God” to come out of the furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that this God that Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego worships has saved them from what should have been certain death. He then makes a decree that no one should blaspheme against the God of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego because “there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”

And indeed, it is this Most High God, with the power to defy death, that we worship.

But in the work of Jesus, God did not simply sidestep death, God went all the way through it. What this means, as my theology professor, Dr. David Truemper used to say, is there is now no part of our human experience that God has not personally gone through. And not only that, but he conquered death once and for all in the resurrection.

There is no other God who is able to deliver in the way that Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior has done for us.

Thanks be to The Most High God for the victory of Jesus’ resurrection!

 

Resurrection Day Greetings!

Christ is Risen!
May the Good News of the Resurrection of Our Lord fill you with joy! Alleluia!

This is the Night!

20130330-134619.jpgI know I’ve said before that I love the church and I love being part of what God is doing in and through the church. If I am honest though, there are some things I love about church more than others. One of my really favorite things about church is this night–the eve of our celebration of the resurrection.

One of the names for this night is “Holy Saturday” and on this night many Christians gather to keep vigil for the resurrection of Jesus.

I realize how odd it sounds to talk about keeping vigil for the resurrection because we as Christians already know the “rest of the story.” I go to church three nights in a row: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Each service lets me dwell on some part of the story so I can contemplate its significance. Yes, we know how the story ends, but it is important to keep telling/hearing the story.

This night, this Holy Saturday, I will be at my church’s vigil. It is my favorite church service of the entire year. I love the vigil more than Easter Sunday.

Another blogger that I follow, Jessica, over at Bohemian Bowmans, wrote her perspective on why she doesn’t like Easter. She mentions her generation (she’s a Millennial, I’m at the tail end of Generation X) and their distrust of things that feel contrived. She writes,

I would MUCH rather stay home for Easter Sunday to meditate and reflect on the “reason for the season”.

Honestly, if I stayed home I would probably just sleep and not do anything very meditative at all. Still, her point about meditating and reflecting on what it is all about it gets at why I like the vigil even more than Easter Sunday itself.

At the vigil we light candles and slow down for a while. We hear the Old Testament stories of how God has been at work throughout all of human history. We get to see the broad strokes of our salvation history. We get to make connections between the Old Testament stories and the Jesus story.

Then, at the culmination of the vigil, we get to hear the resurrection story, having been reminded of its full context. When the Good News of the resurrection is announced I feel like we at the vigil are the first ones to the empty tomb. Our subdued and somber voices break out with the first proclamation of “He is Risen!”

I know not every church has a vigil, and I recognize that this may still feel too contrived for some. But for me, this is the night!

What about you? Do you attend a vigil? What is your favorite Old Testament story and how does it connect with the Jesus story? What has been your favorite church service? Is Easter Sunday a challenge or a joy for you? What helps you connect with the spiritual realities of Jesus’ death & resurrection?