The Cradle, the Cross, and the Empty tomb

Each year we travel the journey from the cradle of Jesus, to the life and teachings of Jesus, to the crucifixion, and on to the resurrection of Jesus. There are some beautiful and powerful connections between these events. In all of them there is a sense of surprise and the message of salvation.

The Surprises
*The announcement to Mary that she was to bear a son, who was to be called Emmanuel, God with us.
*The wonder of the shepherds when they heard the angels urging them to go to Bethlehem.
*The healing of the lepers, the bent-over woman and the welcome of all.
*The betrayal of Jesus by Judas who had followed Jesus throughout his ministry.
*The hesitancy of both Pilate and Herod to condemn Jesus, and Pilate finally giving in to the crowd.
* The release of Barabbas
* The tearing of the curtain of the temple.
*The empty tomb.
* The appearances of Jesus to his followers.

Surprises can be ones of joy, of amazement and wonder, or of sadness and despair. God surprised the participants in each of these events. God continues to surprise us individually and collectively as we hear again the stories of these events. But God has not ceased the surprises. Birth and betrayal are still surprises. Death and destruction still can find us with despair and sadness. The hope and assurance of eternal life is something we don’t understand, but we believe in this ultimate surprise. More important may be the surprise and knowledge of God’s continued presence with us through all the surprises of life. Jesus lives and is with us!

Messages of Salvation
*The change in the shepherds as they shared with others what they had heard and seen.
* The message of Simon as he blessed Jesus and praised God, “for my eyes have seen your salvation.”
*The unbreakable faith of Mary.
*The acceptance of the criminal into Paradise because of his belief in the innocence of Jesus.
*The conversion of the centurion at the cross.
*The knowledge that because of the resurrection, nothing can separate us from God, not even death.
*The energy, the hope and the power of newness in Christ that comes with the resurrection.

Salvation brings change. Salvation brings energy and hope. Salvation demands commitment and courage. It is because of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus that salvation is available to each of us. We are saved to be disciples of Jesus and to witness to God’s presence in the world. Salvation is not earned; it is God’s gift of grace.

Surprise and salvation are tied together in Jesus, the Christ. Both started in the manger. Both continued I the ministry and teaching of Jesus. Both were present at the crucifixion and both are the power message of Easter. May we each look for and receive God’s surprises and gift of salvation once again during this Eastertide

Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence


Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.

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