Of Death and Celebration

I grew up in a village in southwest Germany. My childhood was filled with Catholic traditions and celebrations. A small church, and the graveyard that surrounded it, were the center of the town in every way. After mass we stopped and prayed at the graves of loved ones. There were the graves of our great grandparents, grandparents, friends and children of friends. We took time to remember those who passed and our own mortality.  
We tended those graves, planted flowers in the spring and pulled weeds and watered in the summer. We stuck small shrubs in the ground in fall and always lit a red grave candle and placed it on the stone.

There were other traditions. In June we picked wild flowers in the fields and made altars in front of our homes. We said our prayers there, too. We swept the streets and scrubbed the sidewalks. We cut the grass and trimmed the bushes, made everything presentable. Then we joined the procession with the priest leading. He walked under a cloth canopy and carried the body of Christ in a golden monstrance. He led the congregation to several outside altars. He was the only one allowed to walk on the flower-carpets, which the women had prepared. As a little girl, I remember wishing I could just walk once on that carpet and get close to such holiness. 

When I was older, I left those traditions and altars, moved far away from the small town and fields, from the hills and the woods. I tried to find my own traditions. I questioned what I should remember and what to forget. I always looked for Jesus, and wondered if He ever escaped from under that canopy and came out of the monstrance.

I did find Him, but not in any traditions or in inapproachable holiness. Actually, He found me – in a dark room at the end of my rope and without a shred of hope. I was planning to end my life.

That’s how He finds many people. That’s how He found His friends over two thousand years ago. They were unable to celebrate and felt abandoned and alone. They had lost their hope, too. They were heading to His grave, trying to tend his decaying body.

If you are feeling sadness this Easter because so many things are different and you can’t celebrate like you did before, let Jesus find you. Let Him show you that He overcame death and the grave. He is as near as you need Him to be. He never leaves nor forsakes. He has power over death and victory over sin. Because … He is risen. He is risen indeed.

Acts 2:24
God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death,
because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

38 Comments on “Of Death and Celebration

  1. I’ve always wondered about the fear and sadness those disciples would have felt that day, huddled and scared in a room. And then Jesus appears! What amazement they must have had. Yes, Jesus appears and is with us in our saddest of times and never, ever leaves us!

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    • Thank you, Lynn for reading. I am so grateful that His presence doesn’t depend on my ability to find Him. He makes Himself known to His children and then He stays with them 🙂 Blessings to you, Lynn.

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  2. Thank you for sharing a painful part of your story, Heidi. And how Jesus found you in your brokenness. He is risen indeed. Thank you for encouraging me today. Love and blessings to you!

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  3. Heidi, this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing a piece of your testimony. You are so right, so many times we hear people say (and perhaps we’ve said), “I’m searching for Jesus.” The truth is, He finds us. When our hearts are ready to see Him, He’s already there by our sides. I so appreciate your gentle encouragements, my friend.

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    • As you know Bill, He truly is our Light. The saddest part was back then that I didn’t even know I was in darkness. ~
      My mom is part of the group of women who arrange the blossoms into these amazing pieces of art every year … yes, very cool.

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  4. I did not remember you were once close to taking your own life, when Jesus stepped in to rescue you and give you hope. Praise God for His transformation power, saving you from the brink of destruction, and bringing you to a place of strong faith and influence in the lives of others–including mine! Many blessings to you, dear Heidi, on this day after Easter!

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    • Jesus found me in the middle of a big mess many years ago. I tried making it right by taking my life, but then He showed me that He had already made it right by giving His. Maybe one day, I get up the courage to tell the story. Thanks for your kindness, dear Nancy. Yes, praise God!!!!

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  5. Beautiful message Heidi. Most of this past week was a struggle….trying to make Holy week Holy and not knowing how….everything I tried to read, or do, or pray seemed to be attacked until tears finally fell….and then it was Easter….God’s plan fulfilled…..and my hope was renewed

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    • I am so grateful, dearest Leslie, for your renewed hope. Keep letting it be Easter, even if that means to shed tears. … Yes, that we could keep hanging on to His hope. Hugs to you, my friend.

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  6. sometimes our traditions (habits, etc) get in the way of seeing Jesus. Even when we know better, over time we may not recognize Jesus working in our circumstances. But if we are truly ‘in Christ’, he will call us, for his purpose – ex- sharing with someone during this virus – and help them become a disciple of Jesus. wonderful Easter post!

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      • How true, Eric. I’ve found that in my life those habits can become a subtle form of idolatry, like when we always have devotions in the same place, we start to think that’s where God is. I recently cleared out a closet to be my “War Room” (like in the movie). I have loved having my prayer time there, because it’s quiet and shut off from distractions and has all my prayer requests there (and a big map of the world on the wall). But the other day I just had to go outside and pray while walking my dog, so I wouldn’t start thinking that I couldn’t pray unless I went into my (literal) prayer closet!

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  7. I just want to thank you, Heidi, for today’s blog that you wrote. Thank you for sharing how Jesus found you. You’re so right, we don’t find Him, He finds us.What you shared about needing Jesus very close this Easter, really spoke to my heart. In fact, I believe that this last paragraph you wrote actually confirmed to my heart what Jesus said to me a short while ago. I know that Jesus wants to comfort us when we’re afraid. That’s exactly what He did when I read what you wrote! It’s as if the weight of the world just rolled off of my shoulders…….Thanks be to God!

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    • Thank you so much for reading, dear friend. The world seems be especially burdened these days, yet He still stoops to us individually and assures us of His great love. What a beautiful Savior! Blessings to you, as you embrace this week with its challenges and joys. Yes, thanks be to God! 🤗

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  8. Oh Heidi, I’m sorry to hear you had felt such despair. But you’re right, it’s often when we’re at our lowest that we’re able to reach out to him.
    I would love to visit Germany one day, particularly Bavaria and Berlin.
    🙏💞

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    • I can’t wait to talk to her one day and get the scoop. “Seriously, how could you not know it was Him? The Gardener … for real?”
      Thanks, Alan and Happy Easter to you and yours.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hey, give the lady a break. 😉 It might have still been dark, and no doubt her eyes were probably swollen practically shut from crying. At least I know I’d be in that state …
        Heidi, I had no idea you once intended to end your life! One would never know it now, seeing the beautiful smile on your face. What a testimony to God’s resurrection power!

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        • I agree with you, Ann 🙂 I’d only give her a hard time because I would want to distract from all those times Jesus was standing right next to me and I didn’t recognize Him … I bawled and blew my nose and carried on … all long he was standing there waiting to say, “Heidi …” …. makes me teary eyed even thinking about it now. He is so good to us, isn’t He, Ann! ❤️

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