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It was a heartfelt sentiment: “In honor of the dessert we never got to share.” Those words were penned by Dr J. Ellsworth Kalas in a book he gave to my wife Jessica and me. Due to flight delays and an already-busy schedule, we had to forego our plans and get straight to business. There was little to no time left for such things as ice cream, hot fudge, and toppings. It pains me to even write such a sentence.
I hate that we didn’t get to enjoy that dessert.
Scripture tells us that there is “a time to hate.” I think, perhaps, that word is used far too often in our polarized world. One party hates the other, or at least their policies. We hate this type of food. We hate that type of music. I wish we wouldn’t say such things. Language of any sort has the potential to lose its significance when it is overused.
Such is the case with words like hate, sin, depravity, repentance, grace, and even Easter and Resurrection. To be sure, the words do still have a great deal of meaning and significance behind them. The entire Christian faith hangs on these words and how we deal with them.
Consider certain hymns: my, how the early church did sing them with such enthusiasm! Our instructions were clear, at least from John Wesley’s perspective: “Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength.”
I think we follow those instructions, at least in the beginning. All too quickly though, the tune becomes familiar, the melody rote, and the words hollow.
Consider the words by another Wesley, John’s brother Charles:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Read those words again. What significance is held there! The sin and depravity in which we find ourselves bound is not casually removed – it’s completely cast off, the chains are on the dungeon floor, not on our wrists or around our ankles!
Here we are barely more than a week after Easter. The extra worship services are complete. The celebration is over…or is it?
The word hate is far too overused. However, I do hate that I missed that dessert with Dr. Kalas. I hate even more that sometimes we miss the significance of Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus. It’s not just language, it’s more than words: it’s life-altering, it’s history-making!
When flights get changed and meetings get shifted, we are forced to adjust our schedules accordingly…so over the past few months, having been to the cross, visited the empty tomb, and celebrated the Resurrection, let us now live in awareness of the sin for which we will never be crucified.
I’d hate for you to miss Resurrection living.