Original post at http://pastorrobert-nikos.blogspot.com/2014/04/daves-deep-thoughts-pre-holy-week.html
Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
that the answer has been right in front of you.
They had their first date in 1948.
Even though they both went to the same
very small rural high school,
they didn't know each other very well.
That changed very quickly
as they married in January of 1950.
Everyone knew them as Norman and Janelle.
I just called them Dad and Mom.
They grew up on farms separated by only 3 miles,
but in the 1930's, the distance seemed much farther than that.
If you were a child growing up during the Great Depression,
you learned to be grateful for everything you had,
and to be content in all the things you didn't have.
Those austere years shaped and molded them.
By the time they were young adults,
they had learned the meaning of hard work,
sacrifice, and commitment.
They understood that life wasn't about obtaining all the wants,
but was instead, working together to meet the needs.
Neither went to college,
but one went to cosmetology school,
in those days a fancy word for learning to become a hairdresser.
Their marriage produced four children......
two daughters and two sons.
It wasn't easy to earn a living off of a small farm,
but like everything else, they found a way.
LIfe was about sacrifice and days filled with work from sunup to sundown,
Life was putting four children's needs before their own.
When the house wasn't big enough for four children,
Dad found time to build an additional bedroom,
sometime in between farming the land and feeding the livestock.
When one of us needed clothes,
mom went to the sewing room instead of the clothing store.
Eating out meant having a picnic under the maple tree
and going out
meant visiting family or friends with a glass of iced tea in hand.
Getting a haircut
meant going to the upstairs bathroom
otherwise known as mom's beauty shop
and taking a field trip,
meant riding the tractor with Dad.
Vacations did not include Magic Kingdoms or cruise ships
but brief trips to mountains or shore.
As the four of us grew older,
each of them took on additional work outside the home.
Dad studied to become a mold maker,
and Mom became an inspector at a plastics factory.
Schedules became more complicated
as Dad worked into the evening
and Mom worked through the night.
The 5pm supper hour was moved to midafternoon
so the family could still sit down together to eat.
Meals were home cooked meals,
with produce coming from a well cared for garden.
"Take out meals" meant "take out of the freezer,"
and yes, all were items raised on the farm.
Sports teams and school events had six days,
but Sunday was reserved for worship and family time.
Non-negotiable and wonderful.
As grandmothers became less independent,
there was never a question that they would be cared for at home.
For Mom, a good night's sleep meant a three hour morning nap on the sofa
while "toe touching" a grandmother who would quietly watch television.
For Dad, providing for the family
meant farmwork in morning and early afternoons,
and 8 hour workshifts into the night.
That's what needed to be done
if there were to be presents under the Christmas tree,
birthday gifts four times a year,
and money in the college tuition savings account.
Dad died too early.
And Mom didn't live long enough.
That's how you feel when you have parents
who have lived sacrificially for their children.
That's why it is not that difficult for me
to understand a God who
feels the same way.
Sacrificial love didn't need to be so much explained to me
because it was exampled to me daily.
I realize that everyone isn't given the same circumstances in life.
Not everyone is dealt the same cards.
We approach God differently because our life experiences are different.
And yet it is the same God,
same story of amazing grace,
And the choice to embrace it is ours.
Next week the church journeys through Holy Week.
It is the week where we have the opportunity
to reflect on a Divine Parent
who would choose to die for us
rather than live without us.
Many in the faith community have no problem showing up en masse
for the Sunday morning celebration.
It's easy to celebrate empty tombs, life, painted eggs, and anything covered with chocolate.
But it is the darkness of the week
that prepares us for what happens on Easter Sunday.
Where will your spirit be on Palm Sunday
when Jesus weeps for the city as He enters on a donkey?
Where will your spirit be on Monday when we remember Him
cleansing the temple of robbers and cursing the fig tree?
Where will your spirit be on Tuesday
as His authority is challenged by the Pharisees?
And as He passes by the now withered fig tree,
a tree that represents the withered spirituality of the people of God?
Where will your spirit be on Thursday
as He washes His disciples feet and observes the Last Supper?
And as He goes to the garden to pray and to be arrested?
Where will your spirit be on Friday
as He is mocked, falsely put on trial, scourged, and nailed to a tree?
Where will your spirit be on Saturday
as the women prepare the spices for his burial
and guards are set at the tomb to watch for body snatchers?
Where will you be?
How I remember the vacations, the holidays,
and family celebrations.
But now that they are gone,
it is the sacrifice that I remember most.
Because without the sacrifice, there would be nothing else.
No matter the conditions in which you grew up,
this is your chance.
Take time to ponder the sacrifice,
so that your celebration on Sunday really means something.
Greater love has no one than this,
that one lays down his life for his friends.