Saturday, April 11, 2009
Each Easter, members of our church bring cut flowers to tuck into a cross covered with chicken wire. Some flowers are purchased and some are picked from church member's gardens as they leave their homes to travel to church. By the time church starts, the cross is covered with flowers.
It's a beautiful cross and makes a wonderful backdrop for Easter family photos. Dozens of people take photos of their families after church, standing in front of the cross.
At the end of our Easter church service, each person receives a butterfly to release at the cross. At a signal from our pastor, the butterflies are released all at one time, each person individually releasing one butterfly.
Butterflies are passed out in glassine envelopes, which keep the butterflies safe and snug until they are released. These butterflies are farm raised and are first released into nature at the church. A sticker on the envelope reminds everyone of the reason for the release
Butterflies are especially symbolic of Christ and his Resurrection. The chrysalis is symbolic of the tomb or grave. The adult butterfly is symbolic of Resurrection, life, and hope.
When released, many of the butterflies fly to the flowers on the cross. After a short while, they fly off to find flowers for nectar and each species particular host plant to lay eggs.
Butterflies are now packed and waiting for their release tomorrow after church. Pastor Steve will share with us the glorious story of Christ, his Crucifixion, and Resurrection. After this message, we will go outside and release butterflies.
What we often forget is that Good Friday was the day that Mary watched her son, friends watched their friend, and brothers and sisters watched their brother being nailed to a cross, suffer, and die. It was not a glorious sight. It was horrible and heartbreaking. The cross was designed as a torturous death. It was a torturous death.
Most people's vision of the cross is fairly clean. It is made of clean wood (or other material) without the blood and groans of pain visible or audible. It is often draped with purple material. Even with the figure of a man painted or carved on the cross, the blood and agony isn't often shown.
This horrific death was suffered by thousands of people. Crosses were covered with the blood of thousands of people, some innocent of the crime they were accused of commiting but not innocent of any sin, like Jesus was. Thousands of backs were filled with splinters from crosses. But out of the thousands, only one could have simply spoken the word and had ten thousand angels to come to his rescue (see below).
Out of the thousands of crucified people, only one could have and did take my sins to the cross with him. Only one could take the punishment for my sins. Only one could have and he did.
So what is there to say about this type of love? This type of love that could only come from this man who did not WANT to go to the cross but loved the Father and loved me enough to do so. A man who had the power NOT to go to the cross but chose to do so even though it wasn't his will to die in that manner.
It was not HIS will to die this horrific death. But it was HIS will to do the will of the Father and that was what he prayed in the garden while his friends slept, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done".
There is so much I could say but what counts isn't what I say. It's what I do. It's what I think. It's what I am in the very depths of me, the very essence of myself, that counts. I pray that what I AM will speak for me of the love I have for this man, the son of God, who is God himself, Jesus Christ.
I am thankful that God has and will forgive me for the gaps between what I am and what I should be. That's what Easter is all about!
"Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
47And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
48But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
Green Luna Moths are large and beautiful. Their tails have a slight twist. Burgundy edges this fantastic creature. This is the moth of the Lunesta commercial!
Their wings have beautiful 'eyes'. Scales cover their wings, giving the moths various colors in their eyespots. Both the forewings and hindwings have eye spots.
Sweet Gum leaves are one of the host plants for these moths. The leaves are the same color as these caterpillars. When not eating, they rest on the stems or petioles, with head and feet raised. They have six real legs in front and ten prolegs in back.
When not eating, their six legs are folded together. These particular caterpillars were preparing to molt. Their head capsules were on the tip of their heads and their prolegs were locked into a mat of silk. After about a day, they would crawl out of their old tight skin, remove their head capsule (like a mask), and continue their lives.
I introduced these green caterpillars to Michael and Caden this week. They've seen thousands of caterpillars, but have not noticed the Luna moths. Their position fascinated the boys. The caterpillars were out of food and we added branches of Sweet Gum leaves to the containers where they were being raised.
I asked the boys if they knew what the caterpillars were doing and asked them to look at their legs. They responded with a puzzled "No". I teased them with "They're praying and thanking God for the leaves we're feeding them."
Michael and Caden are familiar with praying and thanking God for their food. But the idea of caterpillars doing the same was quite a new one. They studied the caterpillars closely. At supper, they told Stephen (Papa) about the caterpillars praying and thanking God for the food we brought them. (They knew that I was teasing them and they were now teasing Papa in turn.)
I grew up with a Daddy and Mother who never ate a meal (or let us eat a meal) without first thanking God for it. The idea of eating any meal without giving thanks was a foreign one. Of course, we didn't always stop to give thanks for a bag of candy or a bowl of ice cream. We teased about it sometimes, saying that God knows we're always thankful for dessert!
As I thought of this later, I thought about how I so often take so many blessings for granted, not stopping to thank God for them. Things like being free from asthma and allergies, being able to move about freely and see with my eyes, living in Florida with long summers and (compared to the north) mild winters, and living with modern medicine and a full educational system. Friends; I fail to thank God often enough for friends and the blessings they bring into my life.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.