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The Smell of Easter

Have you ever caught a whiff of a familiar smell and just been overtaken by emotion? That happened to me yesterday at Safeway. I walked by an Easter Lily and the smell of it…well, I’m embarrassed to say that the smell of it made me want to stop in the middle of the aisle between the tangerines and chocolate bunnies, lean over my cart and cry. So silly. But really, so great. Here’s my story:

My mom – the most lovely and gracious woman on the planet – loves Easter more than anything. We always had a big lily in our house from the very first moment they were available in stores. Lilies are an odd sort of flower, but beautiful in a strange-yet-stately kind of way. And the aroma that fills the room is absolutely outrageous.

I loved to sit by the lily and talk with my mom and she would tell me how much she loved Easter and loved the resurrection and it didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time, but I knew whatever she said was important. And we would prepare food and special dresses and all the Easter accouterments, but we usually would NOT prepare Easter baskets.

My mom has a thing about bunnies and eggs.

She never expressed hatred for them, but she would offer regular – yet gentle – reservations. “Easter is just too important to be about bunnies,” she would say as she cooked or cleaned or sewed my dress. Her statement was never filled with anger at secular society, but rather a palpable reverence toward the work of the cross. And in these moments, my little subconscious gathered together the smell of the lilies and the food, the warmth of my home, the love in my mom’s heart for me and for the risen Jesus, and it created an indelible image in my head and on my heart. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for this rich and wonderful heritage where the sacred stayed sacred. And that’s why the smell of Easter Lilies makes me cry.

So yesterday I was talking to my daughter and she said, “I remember when I was little and you used to say, ‘I love Easter – I just love the resurrection!’ and I didn’t really get it then, but today I realized that I totally feel the same way. I LOVE the resurrection!”

Generations of women, hunched over their carts, crying by the Lilies? That’s an Easter miracle.

(I love you, Mom!)

March 31, 2008 - 7:31 pm

Tori - I love being part of a legacy.:)

March 31, 2008 - 8:43 pm

bolovesjoe - Yep, now it’s all up to you! Teach your children the powerful smell of Easter lilies and the correct way to say “supposedly” and you will be a family hero.

Death Benefit #3: Paid

I could write a million words in a million ways….and still never say it as well as this.

Easter countdown: 4 days!

March 20, 2008 - 3:32 am

brandy - way way good

March 20, 2008 - 5:35 am

bolovesjoe - Hey Brandy -I cried the first time I saw this because it reminded me of Encounter last fall when we sang it over and over, remember? Good song, good memories…really good God. Love you!

March 20, 2008 - 9:41 pm

Lindsay Joy - Crying…good grief. I’ve seen that a couple of times before. Maybe it’s Easter being so soon, or maybe it’s the place I’m at, but that is so powerful!

p.s. I really do want babies : )

March 20, 2008 - 10:51 pm

cass-a-rooh - one of my favorite songs… captured in a beautiful way!!!

thanks for posting it!!!

Death Benefit #2: Healing

“And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” Luke 22:50-51

It’s amazing to me that the events of that tragic and wonderful night were set into motion by the betrayal of Jesus by one of His closest friends. So sad. So unbelievably and wretchedly sad. If anyone has ever hurt you, ever wronged you, ever lied about you – well, then you know a bit of what Jesus must have been feeling as His dear friend sealed their relationship with a kiss. Heart wrenching – and enough in itself to make this a terrible night in the life of a young man living in hostile world, so far from home.

The second big moment tumbles in on top of the first as the passionate Peter uses his sword to stop the progress of the plan of God (I totally see myself here, weapon in hand, swinging wildly at the very thing that will eventually set me free.) This is not okay, so Jesus simply…fixes it.

Seriously? Think about it. Think of the just knifed-in-the-back Jesus, holding a bloody ear in His hand while the soldier screams in pain. Even in the midst of His own soul-deep agony, Jesus remembers this: He came to heal. So many times I get caught in the turmoil of the moment and forget why I’m really here. But Jesus doesn’t. He’s about to die to heal all humanity, so it would be the worse kind of hypocrisy to let this one leave the garden broken and marked for the rest of his life by the events of Jesus’ death. And so He heals both his enemy’s wound, and Peter’s mistake. Amazing.

Healing was – and is – an extravagant benefit of the cross. His stripes for our sickness. His wounds for our weakness. Every mark that landed on His body that day was filled with power and purpose. Every bruise on the sinless skin of the Lamb of God contained freedom from death and disease and despair.

Every one. For everyone.

Oh, how I love the cross!

Easter countdown: 5 days.

March 21, 2008 - 3:46 am

Cher - absolutely beautiful…and all the better because it’s all true.

Death Benefit #1: A Kingdom

Luke 22:29 And I bestow upon you a Kingdom,just as My Father bestowed one upon Me.

Just before He died, Jesus gave you something. Not a small business or a huge corporation. Not a new car or a dumpster filled with $20’s (though how cool would that be?) All of those would be awesome – maybe even life-changing – but that’s not this. That’s not what He gave.

“I bestow upon you a Kingdom…”

I once went to Westminster Abbey in England. Here are my official impressions: old, cold, and gold-ish (everything seemed plated over in in really old gold – as opposed to covered over in really gold paint, as is the kingdom of many televangelists.) I know it’s only the “kingdom chapel” so-to-speak, but it was still remarkably ornate and opulent and it made me wonder how magnificent the actual palace might be.

So, what if I read a scripture where Jesus said: “I bestow upon you, Bo, Kensington Palace and all that belongs to the Queen of England”? That would be incredible. I’d want to move in! I’d want to figure out how the coffee maker works and where the crowns are kept. I’d roam the halls and order the butlers around – probably using a really awful and annoying English accent the whole time – and schedule a bunch of meetings with the Princes to give them relationship advice because that’s just what I do.

Bottom line: if I thought I had inherited a spot – even just a time share – in England’s royal house, I wouldn’t waste a second booking a plane ticket and going to find out exactly what it is that I won.

And yet, for thirty years this scripture – and it’s magnificent implications – slipped by me.

“I bestow upon you a Kingdom…” and check this, because it’s about to get way-over-our-heads-good…”just like My Father bestowed upon Me.” Um…wow…a Kingdom just like that? The authority and power of the One who established Heaven & Earth…that Kingdom? Is mine?

“I bestow upon you a Kingdom.”

If that one sentence from the mouth of Jesus hasn’t changed the way we think and talk and live, then maybe we’ve left some money on the table. If it hasn’t caused us to work in a way that brings the scepter of heaven to earth, then maybe – as we remember the beautiful cross this week – we need to go back and figure out just what it is that we won.

Easter countdown? 7 days!

March 16, 2008 - 7:32 am

cass-a-rooh - um.
i’m going to need a day and three-quarters to process that. I feel like i just read a whole book and need to digest what i read before i can make a comment.

and then in the 2 minutes that i paused before writing this… i had like 10,000 thoughts about what you wrote…and um/wow are the two words. here is the thought that makes the most sense in my head:
I feel like i just figured out which key unlocks the door to discovering something amazing!– that something is a Kingdom!!!! I had the key in my hand the whole time, and yet i never unlocked the gate of what God gave me!!!!

what an adventure i have ahead of me!

March 16, 2008 - 3:20 pm

bolovesjoe - Cassie – remind me to show you something I just bought because of this crazy little scripture that’s been messing with my head since January.

March 17, 2008 - 9:47 pm

helenw13 - Bo…
I have clicked onto this post a half dozen times…just to read it again…and then I leave because how can I add anything to how exquisitely you put it down on “paper”…

So I will just leave this time with a quote from another great mind who had such an encounter with the Word as well…

“Indeed if we consider the unblushing promise of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis

I am so glad you are writing regularly…it is a rich blessing to me and others.

March 18, 2008 - 12:17 am

bolovesjoe - Oh…wow. That quote literally (and I hate to use that word so you know how sincerely I mean it) gave me chills. So perfect for what I’m feeling in my life right now…such longing to want more than a glimpse.

Thanks for the encouragement. It means the world to me.

March 18, 2008 - 4:15 am

Jessica Carpenter - Are you going to be scheduling any meetings with the princesses to give them advice? Because I know of one who will be home on spring break next week… and might be stopping by your office unannounced! I don’t need relationship advice just yet, so maybe it will be a nice change of pace :).

March 18, 2008 - 5:10 pm

Katie - Wow, this is so what God has been showing me lately! The words “The Kingdom” have just been echoing in my spirit and it’s vast I just don’t know how to capture it – maybe I can’t. I feel like I’ve finally begun to explore the mansion I’ve owned for almost ten years though I’ve remained in the guest room the whole time. Bethany Dillon has a song called “The Kingdom” and it’s shredding my soul. A line says this,
“So I pour over pages, desperate to find out why
The cripple at Your table has what I’m longing to find.”

My prayer over the past month has been, “Show me the Kingdom.” The cripple gets it – it’s about time I step into this! Love you – thanks so much for writing!

March 18, 2008 - 7:20 pm

Bo - Jess – yep, I’m around next week…but maybe you could create some relationship drama so that I feel useful.

Katie – downloading the song ASAP. I love Bethany Dillon, but it’s been a long time since I’ve listened.

Dichotomy.

Brutal: Deuteronomy 22-24. An R-rated, stomach-churning, bloody mess of impossible requirements for relationship.

Beautiful: Galatians 4. A passionate review of the grace-soaked benefits of the cross. Lost to found. Slave to son. Distant to dearly loved.

Brutal to beautiful, brought to you by the miracle of Easter (um, countdown? 10 days!)

P.S. Best .99 you’ll ever spend in preparation for Easter? This song right here.