Saturday, April 4, 2009

Semana Santa - Again...

It is that time of year again. I was one asked why I don't invest more with the articles of Semana Santa. Let's just say I bought the t-shirt. Been there - done that. But as this is a component that makes our lives a little more interesting let me just say I will be glad when this time of year has finished. Two years ago Nancy and I invested in the experience and found it wanting. See the blogs...

It is my hope and prayer that people will see through the mirage and find Jesus Christ as he really is. I have included a perspective of April Clark. She is our worship leader. This is her recent update.
As I slowly make my way through the streets of Antigua, weaving through the throngs of people and vendors with their wares of brightly colored balls, cotton candy and various other baubles, I hear the mournful bellowing of the bass drum pulsing in the background. There is excited chatter from small children as they tug at Mom's skirt, pressing for an ice cream cone or other roadside treat. Cars are backed up in the streets, impatiently honking their horns as they wait for the procession to pass by. The windows of every other house are adorned with bright purple sashes, announcing that once again, it's time to celebrate Semana Santa.

This time of year is very different than other times in Antigua. Semana Santa is an age-old tradition here, where people come together to celebrate the passion of Christ. Sometimes as I watch the processions go by, and I see the grand floats carried on the backs of hundreds of purple-robed patrons, I feel a bit sad. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the grandiosity of the rituals, or impatient because of the overcrowded streets, but it's something more. It's a reminder of the spirit of ritualism and the spirit of customs. As I watch Mary pass by, with angels bowing at her feet, and Jesus, carrying His cross on His back, sometimes I want to yell at the top of my lungs, "Don't you know that He's alive? Don't you realize that He's not something to celebrate once a year, but He's someone to celebrate daily?"

For many people here, Semana Santa is just another holiday; it's a time to come together with friends and family, eat food from the various street vendors scattered throughout La Merced, and watch the processions. Many do not even realize the true meaning of this season and it's implications for all humanity. For me, it's a time to reflect on the price that my Savior paid for me over 2000 years ago; it's a reminder of how much He loves and cares for me. It's a reminder that for every stripe on His back, I'm healed, washed and cleansed. It's a time to remember that He bore my sins, so that I could spend eternity with Him. It reminds me that I should never take for granted what I've been entrusted with, and it encourages me to press on, serving Him with my whole heart.

We are going through a major transition right now in our church here in Antigua. We are in the process of covering our courtyard, so that we can hold more people in our sanctuary. God has been moving in such a mighty way here, and we are seeing so many people healed from hurts, addictions, and lives lived in sin. There is a feeling of change and the expectation of bigger things that are coming. We don't know what those things might be, but I know that our entire staff has been under great spiritual attack this last month. Although, we are all facing difficulties, we are encouraged, because we know the enemy is not happy with what we are doing. I ask for your prayers over our church, congregation and staff for God's direction, guidance and protection as we continue serving Him.

I pray that each of you has a wonderfully blessed Easter Sunday, and I will talk with you soon. Much love and blessings!


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