Jesus dies and is buried

Our journey begins today.

Day 12 & 13 of 2 Weeks 2 the Cross: Matthew 27:45-54, 57-61

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling for Elijah!”

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, and offered Him a drink. But the rest said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him!”

Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.

When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”

When it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Then Pilate ordered that it be released. So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in clean, fine linen, and placed it in his new tomb, which he had cut into the rock. He left after rolling a great stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated there, facing the tomb.

Jackson places Jesus in the tomb

Jackson places Jesus in the tomb

Because of Jesus, I am accepted. My sins are as far as the east is from the west. It was Jesus who took my punishment. Only Jesus could reunite me with God, tearing the temple veil from top to bottom to prove it. His death caused earthquakes and rocks to split. His life transforms mine.

Even the people who crucified him, the brutal Roman soldiers, were terrified, not necessarily because of the stirring of the Earth, but the stirring of their hearts. They realized the man who hung on the cross dead in front of them was surely the Son of God.

Today we started making an Easter garden. The kids went on a hunt for rocks and sticks to plant. We filled a large flower pot with rick, dark soil, and made a hill like Golgotha, where we fashioned and set up three crosses. We also created a new tomb in the garden, tenderly placed Jesus’ body inside, and rolled a large stone across the entrance.

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Oh the anticipation of Sunday morning!

My Favorite Ornament This Year

I look forward to putting up our Christmas tree every year! Though our tree is a hodge-podge of ribbons, garland, ornaments and lights, each branch holds special memories.

Beautiful ribbons used to decorate the sanctuary for our wedding ceremony hang around the tree. Unique, hand-crafted ornaments that Matt’s grandmother made for him adorn the areas children can reach, and we invite Jackson and Lauren to touch and play with them. Almost every year we’ve been married, Matt and I have bought a nativity-themed ornament. In recent years, we have had the wonderful occasions to add ornaments marking the birth and first Christmas for each of our children.

But, this year, my favorite decoration is made of construction paper.

Jackson made this stocking ornament himself, and it's even personally signed on the back!

I’m sure this is one of many handmade ornaments from my children that will hang from the branches of our Christmas tree in years to come. But, this is the first real ornament Jackson has made on his own, with his personal signature on the back.

I’ve hung this special ornament right in the middle on the front of the tree, so I see it multiple times a day. It reminds me of God’s amazing love for me, that He would be so kind to bless me with a family. And, it makes me desire to love God even more in gratitude for the children He has given me.

This is the same reason why I hang Jackson and Lauren’s creations on the refrigerator. I am so proud of their growth and accomplishments, whether it is beautiful, colorful scribbles all over every inch of a paper (and my table) or a backward “N” at the end of a scrawled name written with flourish. They are my children, and their artwork, schoolwork and pictures displayed are a reminder to me and to them of how much I love them.

I think that is why we display Christmas trees in the first place. It is a visible sign of the true meaning of Christmas, a beautiful picture of the greatest gift ever given: Jesus. He came to set us free through paying the ransom for our sins with His very life nailed to a tree.

Not only will I treasure the ornament Jackson made for me, each time I pass by our Christmas tree this year I will celebrate the God who came to make a way for both of us to have life everlasting.