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Thursday, April 13, 2006

"His Mighty Enterprise"

"Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

My wife, Brooksyne, is leading our home church in an Easter musical this Sunday.  Due to my interim pastoral role in another church I will be unable to attend the service so I went last night for their final rehearsal.  What a tremendous joy to hear 24 voices (of all ages) unite in singing praise to God and telling the glorious story of our Savior's crucifixion and victorious resurrection. It sounded so good I teased them asking if they were using a split track with studio voices on one side. They weren't, but they sure lit up when I asked!  Of course it was a special blessing to see Brooksyne at work and Ester, our seventeen year-old daughter, singing in a choir for the very first time!

As I listened to the musical a line from a classic hymn gripped my attention. "Christ has triumphed, and we conquer by His mighty enterprise."* The musical uses various medleys to tell the Story from the Triumphal Entry through Resurrection Day. In every song I was aware of the outcome.

As we reflect upon the events of this week and our Lord's suffering for our sin, we know the rest of the story - Christ has triumphed.  But as I listened and pondered last night I tried to imagine what it would be like if we did not know the outcome. Although messianic prophesy and our Lord Himself had promised His resurrection and victory we know the despondency and deep despair of His followers as events grew more hopeless by the hour.

This week I've been sharing specific instances concerning Christ's enduring the Cross such as being spit upon and struck repeatedly in the head with a staff. Today I had actually planned to consider the indignity of Christ carrying His own cross. It would take a long, long series to examine each of the recorded abuses our Lord endured.

Let's just consider the events that happened on this day of Passion Week. He spent His final hours with the disciples teaching, sharing His love and instituting the Lord's Supper.  Later that evening Jesus prayed in the garden and then the definitive betrayal would follow. Knowing just this and the horrible events that follow is a touching story but so sad. But we know the rest of Story - Christ has triumphed!

The Holy Scriptures also promise His ultimate triumph and that we will conquer as well (see Romans 8:37 for one of many such promises).  But today some of you are going through a deep, discouraging night season of life and may find yourselves in despair similar to the disciples during this time of their Lord's suffering, prior to the resurrection. Like them you've heard the promises of triumph but that's sure not what you see right now.

But we indeed conquer by His mighty enterprise. The events we commemorate this week have eternal purpose. And in life there is an overarching story, a meta-narrative, which supersedes all the confusion in the world that we presently observe with our physical eyes and may very well be personally experiencing.  We conquer!  "Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's Prayer:  Jesus, help me to trust You even when circumstances would lead me to feel that You are distant and unaware of my circumstances. When I look to the difficulties in my life I can easily become overwhelmed, fearful and confused.  But when I look to You, my victorious Savior, who endured the times of testing by spending time in passionate prayer I am strengthened and encouraged.  When You were overwhelmed with sorrow even to the point of death You fell with Your face to the ground and surrendered Your human will to the Father's plan which included suffering.  Help me, Lord, to watch and pray so that I will not fall into temptation but rather that my spirit and flesh will be strengthened as I remain victorious through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Brooksyne's Note:  When Stephen took the position of interim pastor and it became long-term I resigned my position of Worship Director at our local church.  However I chose to stay on as choir director and once a month I direct the choir on Sunday mornings.  I say this because I wouldn't want readers to think that Stephen and I are in separate churches.  In our team style of ministry neither of us would be comfortable worshiping in two separate churches!

** The line is from the hymn, "Alleluia! Alleluia!" by Christopher Wordsworth. It's to the tune of "Joyful, Joyful, we adore Thee."

Here's the full text from the two stanzas I have before me in the hymnal this morning:

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Hearts to heav'n and voices raise;
Sing to God a hymn of gladness,
Sing to God a hymn of praise.
He who on the cross as Savior
For the world's salvation bled,
Jesus Christ, the King of Glory,
Now is risen from the dead.

Now the iron bars are broken,
Christ from death to life is born;
Glorious life, and life immortal,
On this resurrection morn.
Christ has triumphed,
And we conquer
By His mighty enterprise;
We with Him to life eternal
By His resurrection rise.

Another song in the musical is "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" which blesses me greatly. Here are resources for an audio and video of this song. These links are to the Willingdon Church in Burnaby BC Canada.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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