Have you ever heard the phrase, “The darkest hour is just before dawn.”? The disciples felt that they were in the darkest hours imaginable in the hours before dawn on the first day of the week after Jesus was crucified. They had just gone through the worst of all weeks. That had gone from the high of the triumphant entry on Palm Sunday, to the kangaroo court which condemned Him and the cruelty of the cross all in one week. They had rushed His burial in the moments before Sabbath had begun. To the world, it looked like it was over. Jesus was dead. Now that the Sabbath had ended and the only thing left was for the disciples to finish the job of properly burying Jesus as they wondered what would happen to them.
Then came the morning. A group of devout women dared to return to the tomb with spices to finish the burial rituals with Jesus. Let’s pick up the account in Luke 24:2-7.
“And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’” ESV
He is not here, but has risen! Those words change it all. Because He rose, He still lives and actively keeps all His promises. He saves all who call upon Him in repentance, He is preparing a home for God’s children, and He will come and take us home.
Today is Easter. Celebrate our risen Lord!
This week has been a new experience for me.
No, coming to church camp wasn’t new, I have been coming to Daniel Springs my whole life. First tagging along with my Dad who came as a sponsor of the churches he pastored. Then I was old enough to make the trip even if he didn’t come, but I don’t recall that ever happening. After that, I started bringing kids from the churches I served as pastor and youth minister. So what was it that was new? This is the first time I have had to take vacation time at work in order to go to camp. Now that I am IT Coordinator, I don’t get summers “off”. (Not that teachers ever get summer completely free and off.) It gives me a whole new appreciation for those sponsors who have done this for years.
I salute the tireless Moms and Dads, aunts and uncles and other men and women of the church whose vacation consisted of taking lots of kids to deep east Texas in the summer. They played crazy games with us, led cabin devotions, caught us playing pranks and trying to sneak out (except for when they didn’t catch us). They lost sleep and put up with the deprivations of not having all the comforts of home.
Why did they do it? Because they loved us. They wanted us to get away and have new experiences. And they hoped and prayed lasting changes would come in our lives from the things we studied from God’s Word. It just hit me as I approach lights out on our final night, I’m now one of those Dads/sponsors. I hope my daughter has enjoyed her first year at camp. I too pray that life altering things have happened this week in these kids. I can’t wait to come back next year and share this place with my son as well as all the other first timers.
On Monday, we paused to celebrate Memorial Day. It is viewed by many as the start of summer. Even though most students have a week or two of school left, their minds are already on getting out. People fire up the grills and take to the outdoors. For many, it is a day off and gives us a long weekend. While all of that isn’t bad, it misses the reason this day was set aside. Memorial Day is like many other holidays in that we have forgotten the reason we celebrate. Our celebrations and spending have washed away the reason for the day.
Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who paid for our freedom by paying the ultimate price. Our military is blessed to have men and women who have chosen to stand on wall in harm’s way so that we can enjoy freedom and safety. They take an oath to put their lives on the line so we can remain secure in our homes from enemies both foreign and domestic.
Why? What is it that makes these young people grow up and volunteer to risk it all for us? Did you and I do anything to deserve it? Can we ever repay them and their families? I can’t totally answer that question. They did it out of a sense of duty. For love of country and desire to protect our freedom, they put on the uniform and go into harm’s way.
President Harry S Truman said, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.
I agree that we can never repay them the debt we owe. Thousands of brave men and women gave up their lives for us. Even though we can’t repay them, I believe we should try. We honor them by remembering their sacrifice. Never let them be forgotten. We honor them by loving our country as they did. We honor them by supporting the families of the fallen, and their brothers and sisters who still serve.
Let us never forget them. Even though Memorial Day has passed for another year, we should keep their memory alive. Evert time we celebrate our freedom and enjoy our prosperity, let us pause to say a prayer for their families. Let us also pray for those who still stand on that line every day for us.