Two charcoal fires

Are you ready for Easter? For some that means filling baskets with candy and chocolate bunnies. My favourite...

Pastoral column

Pastoral column

By Erwin Buchholz

Battle Lake Community Baptist Church

 

Are you ready for Easter? For some that means filling baskets with candy and chocolate bunnies. My favourite was the solid white rabbit that melted delectably in my mouth. Second place went to the Cadbury eggs which disintegrated under the tongue. But that’s not what I mean by “ready for Easter.”

“Ready” means engaged, heart, mind and soul. The days of Lent fly by ever so quickly. Before we know it we are raising the festal shout at the Easter service. One time years ago when the kids were small I was so busy and distracted, when the minister announced, “He is risen!” the first thought that crossed my mind was, “I hadn’t heard that he died.” That’s how unprepared I was. I vowed then and there never to be taken off guard again.

That was the year I discovered the meaning of the symbols of Easter. The palm branches on Palm Sunday speak of Jesus’ royal status when he rode into Jerusalem. The towel and basin used at the Maundy Thursday foot-washing remind us that he came as a servant whose example we are to follow. The bread and wine tell us about the new covenant in his blood shed for the life of the world. The cross on Good Friday signifies his total self-giving, the crown of thorns his passion, the nails of our sins canceled out on the cross, and the purple cloth of the godly sorrow that leads to new life for those who seek Him. These all point to the great mystery of the “sorrow and love” which flowed mingled down in the memorable Good Friday hymn.

At our Sunrise Service this year, we will be introducing one more symbol: a charcoal fire. In John’s gospel were two fires on either side of Good Friday and Easter. These fires represent the “before” and “after” of Easter.

The first fire was in the courtyard of the high priest when Jesus was tried on false charges. Peter was close by, warming his hands at a fire. He had vowed a few days earlier that he would follow Jesus even to death, but he lost his nerve when challenged by a servant girl. When the rooster crowed, Peter remembered the prophecy: “You will deny me three times.” He went out and wept bitterly, thinking that he had lost everything.

But another charcoal fire after the resurrection changed that forever. On the shore of Galilee, Jesus was cooking breakfast and invited the eleven to join him. There, in a marvelous act of grace and forgiveness, Peter was reconciled to Jesus.

These two charcoal fires tell us the meaning of the resurrection. On the one side of Easter is our stubborn pride and self-deception. Like Peter, we make bold promises we never can keep. On the other side of Easter is the generosity of God whose love breaks down our self-will and brings us into a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ. What marvelous grace! What hope for all who meet him there!

The Pipestone Flyer has invited pastors and reverends from local churches to write a regular column for the paper.