Easter's promises of hope, joy, and peace are preceded by Good Friday's solemn message of pain and suffering. Raising four daughters over the last 25+ years and celebrating Easter throughout their lives, I remember how difficult it was to explain to them as little girlies why the death of Jesus was "Good." They get it now, but it was so very tough to explain back then. How do you really explain to a precious 5-year-old the betrayal of Jesus (Through one of His own disciples Judas) which led to brutal humiliation, torture and a slow and painful death on a cross?
We don't really get it until we personally understand that it was our own sin (among all the sin of the world) that caused it, but while we were still sinners- Jesus died for us. It was prophesied hundreds and thousands of years before Jesus died in order to make forgiveness of sins possible for us all. Betrayal didn't have the last word, Beautiful redemption did. I wrote about this "Betrayal by a Friend" recently too. (Click here to read).
The Way of the Cross
Good Friday this year, I participated in the “way of the cross” walk with hundreds of men, women, and children with 14 stations of the cross. Our own version of the Via Dolorosa of Jerusalem in the downtown core of Saskatoon as scripture is shared, prayers offered and reflections on what the cross of Jesus meant or should mean for us today with Justice issues, the call for reconciliation, ecology, race relations, dignity of life, the health of the family etc. With freezing temps, my hands, and feet still were frozen, but my heart is warm and full of gratitude that day.
Organizers of the Way of the Cross walk asked me to address the topic of "Commodifying people" in the context of sex trafficking (As a representative of Hope Restored Canada), asking "How often do we, like Judas, commodify human beings? " (Click here to read that statement)
I found it very moving to walk among the diverse people of faith as we personalized the scripture of Jesus' way of the cross to our own modern day injustices and the call for truth, justice and grace to prevail in all areas of society.
It was a humbling moment to read from Luke Chapter 22 verses 47 and 48 reflecting on the betrayal of Jesus:
How often do we, like Judas, commodify human beings?
My prayer was as follows: " Let us pray that we end our betrayal of the millions of people sold in the world every day for selfish desires. We pray that with God’s empowerment, compassion, discernment, and wisdom we might come to know these people who have been objectified and take action to secure their dignity. We pray for all victims and survivors who experienced the life by choice, coercion or circumstance as we pray and contend for the freedom, dignity, hope, and restoration of all. We pray for a day when sexual exploitation will be eradicated and that we might acknowledge the intrinsic worth of each person with honor without normalizing control and manipulation. May this begin in our hearts, extend to our families and seek to engage the world. Amen."
Many of us know the story of Jesus's betrayal, but have you ever wondered WHY Judas betrayed Jesus? The Bible doesn't give us a clear look into Judas's heart and full intentions, but we can reflect on the story of betrayal knowing full well that eternal beauty did, in fact, come forth from that deceitful act of betrayal. (Click here to read "Betrayed by a Friend")
As a little girl hearing the story of Judas betraying Jesus, I'd get so mad and angry at him. Now when I hear the story of Judas, I reflect on my own humanity and reflect on how I've betrayed God through poor choices in my life. I've betrayed people in my life knowingly and unknowingly through my thoughts, words, and actions. The painful reality is that I have been betrayed by many throughout my life as well. You, my friend, are also not exempt from betrayal, it is the story of our sin-laden, lonely, desperate for meaning/ broken world.
Out of the Ashes We Rise
This beautiful painting is by Ramona Swift-Thiessen Art entitled "Out of The Ashes We Rise!" Currently gracing my home, she chose this title as a declaration of hope for new and brighter tomorrows for women and children rescued from human trafficking or slavery of any kind. They have been used and abused and betrayed by so many throughout their lives. Our Creator understands that pain ever so deeply.
These verses come to mind when I gaze upon this powerful painting:
At Eastertime (or any season of life)- there is Hope.
And Hope has a name.
The One who gives beauty for ashes