Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Very Good "Good Friday"

"I know another Father who lost His Son on Good Friday. It is because of that we know Jason is ok." - Uncle David Pautsch

These past few weeks have been somber. After attending a somber Good Friday service, I returned home where my dad called me with news that my 20-year-old cousin, Jason had died that morning in Iraq. A suicide bomber had driven into an Iraqi police post and Jason's convoy happened to be there at the same moment (I'm not sure if those are the exact details). The family notified, his name released, the press releases started rolling in. My family's faith became strickingly evident and no one could deny the source of my uncle's hope and the rock Jason had stood upon.

"All the other pretend gods want you to die for them, but instead Jesus died for you!" -Cpl. Jason G. Pautsch

"When he was in Desert Training last year in the Mojave Desert, he was having a discussion with some of his buddies and one got rather antagonistic saying, “What makes you think Christianity is so much better than any of the other religions in the world?!” Jason told me he didn’t know what to say but he breathed a little prayer to the LORD and said, “I need some big help on this one.”
As it turned out he opened his mouth and said, “It’s like this. All the other pretend gods want you to die for them, but instead Jesus died for you!” That pretty much stopped the mouths of his detractors." -David Pautsch

To think that 2,000 people attended Jason's viewing. To think that 700 attended his funeral, including the governors of Iowa and Illinois. To think people lined streets with flags and ribbons. To think that, as his herse made its way down the HIGHWAY, yes, the HIGHWAY, people stopped to salute their hometown hero. To think that he's gone... It boggels my mind and seems surreal that people would honor my cousin in this way. It brightens my heart to know the media is broadcasting his story of faith and our family's dependence on God. May many come to know Him through this.

To learn more, please do a web search on "Jason Pautsch"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Extravaganza!

Whew! This weekend was busy! So much happened, but let me narrow it down to one event: church. This weekend's schedule included five church services at three different churches. As my dad says, "Now we don't have to go until Christmas!"

Service 1: Good Friday at my local Lutheran church
A very traditional, liturgical service complete with extinguishing candles and the sanctuary going dark at the end. It sent a shiver up my spine and I have never felt more "scared" at church before. No, they did not slam the book shut.

Service 2: Volunteering in the kids ministry at my church
Always fun, we had about 60 kids when we usually have around 20.

Service 3: Saturday night Easter service at my church
This was their first time there. They liked it. My church focuses on a few things and does them over-the-top well. My mom commented, "This is the Disney World of churches."

Service 4: My parent's local Lutheran church
After Disney church, we decided we missed the traditional, so woke up for 6am service at their local Lutheran church. A youth lead service, it was liturgical and contemporary. Communion was served. They can fit a lot of people all around their stage for communion. By the third round (our turn) we notice communion wafers (which our friends fondly call "Christ chex") litering the floor. The air-light wafers were flying off the plate as the priests and vicar hurridly served the sacrament. We tried not to laugh.

Service 5: My parent's church
Off to my paren'ts church for a different kind of liturgy. They do the same thing every year and my mom and I predicted it to a T. Say "He is risen!" (though he might have said "He is reason") which is answered by cheering and clapping. The pastor always says, "We celebrate Easter every day!". And Kirk Franklin's "Hero" is sung. Ah, Easter.

Off to our friends for dinner and the Easter weekend is over.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Vulnerable God

I often like to think of God as strong and in control, but a service I went to tonight helped me think about God in another aspect, the aspect of a vulnerable and rejected God. As we anticipate Easter, I see God in this new light. Like a high school boy asking out a girl he likes, the perfect God thoughtfully says "I love you" to us desperately flawed human beings, giving up His control and risking rejection (one of the worst feelings). He knows people will reject Him and yet, He loves us so much and knows that we need His love. He choses to share His perfect love with such fallen humans.

Jesus served his disciples by washing their feet, touching the dirt they had picked up from where they had been. Jesus is not afraid of where they've been. He humbles Himself, touches their dirty lives, and offers His perfect love. When I hear this footwashing story being told, it is often followed with comments such as "Be like Jesus" or "Be a servant like Jesus" and we are encouraged to picture ourselves as the one washing feet. But we need to remember that our feet too need washed and Jesus has offered to wash them. Our part is simply to accept His love. Simple, right? I find this hard. It is easy for me to admit I'm not perfect. It is easy for me to admit there is a hole in my heart. But it is hard for me to accept that a perfect, flawless God loves me so much He has risked rejection to love me. It is hard for me to sit and let Him wash my dirty, stinky feet. I'm overwhelmed by all the love God gives me when I am so un-deserving, so unlovable.