happy earth day
On our “Happy Earth Day” class, we spent some time singing “What a Wonderful World,” then talking about different ways the earth is being harmed. Then I asked the students, “What should we do?” They answered, “We should clean!” I answered, “Yes, but where?” They began to shout out different places – the school playground, the street outside, etc. – but I waited until I heard the place I was already planning on visiting: the neighborhood park. I waited until I had all their attention, then said, “Yes, let’s go clean the park.” Their faces all lit up and Grace in the front row shouted out, “Shelby, I love you!”
Full of excitement to go on an adventure outside the school gates, they shouted “Freedom!” as they exited (courtesy of the class on the Civil War). One of the friendly public security guards at the entrance to the neighborhood saw me at the head of this middle-school troupe, and said, “Hello!” in English, adding on in rough pronunciation, “You are beautiful!” (It’s okay mom, it wasn’t creepy). The girls cracked up with me, and then Cameron shouted back to the man, “You too!” We all laughed all the way to the park. It was one of those beautiful moments.
death has changed
Amidst the beauty of full spring, sunshine all week, joyful days, and beautiful memories, this week was also tinged with other reminders. On Monday, my grandma passed away after many, many months in a nursing home. Her passing was not a surprise, and we know she is far happier now. One of my most vivid memories of my grandma is simply her big, contagious laugh. Because her mental abilities declined throughout her last years, we haven’t heard that laugh in so long. I want to imagine that she is laughing like that again right now.
Even in spite of all this, there is the un-escapable shock of death. I know that I will never be used to it, this sudden end of life. But then I remember that everything about death has changed because of Jesus. Death was irreversible, but not for much longer. Death was the victor before, but now the true victor has come and conquered. Death was our separation from hope and life, but now it is our ultimate union with both.
robes of white
Through conversations with another volunteer here and through my own pondering, I started developing an illustration about what God’s forgiveness and grace looks like. We’ve heard many times – in prose, sermons, or Scripture – that our sin can be like stains on a white robe, stains that can’t be removed no matter how hard they’re scrubbed. But buying a new robe will cost us our life. So Jesus doesn’t try to scrub them at all, or prod us to scrub harder. He gives His life to buy the new robe for us. Then He offers it. The question is simply whether we will put it on to replace ours.
But this new robe, this new covenant, is not like the old. On this robe, sin stains simply disappear. If this robe were just like our old one, we would find ourselves in the same predicament over and over again and be in constant fear of having a stain we weren’t aware of! No, this robe absorbs the stain and filth immediately and stays white, completely white. It seems crazy, but that’s what grace is. Anything else puts our justification, redemption, and sanctification, in our own hands. But thank God that none of it is in our hands but to believe.