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A Spiritual Journey To Easter

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A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY TO EASTER Christopher Shea Lifesjourney Life Coaching LLC

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A spiritual journey As I am guided along my spiritual journey I came to understand that knowledge of God is not the same as a personal relationship with God Through prayer and reading I realized that for me to obtain a personal relationship with God I first needed to understand my human relationships to grasp how to approach God This led me to the revelation that I have in Scripture the story of the followers of Jesus I began to read and practice Lectio Divina in an attempt to ascertain so as to feel the emotions of the people who encountered Jesus This booklet contains my reflections in my attempt to feel emotionally as did Jesus followers so that I too could have a closer personal relationship with Him Chris Shea

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Table of Contents 1 Introduction 2 Ch 1 Palm Sunday 3 Ch 2 Holy Thursday 4 Ch 3 Good Friday 5 Ch 4 Holy Saturday 6 Easter Sermon part 1 7 Easter Sermon part 2 8 Ch 5 Easter 9 Copyright

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CHAPTER 1 Palm Sunday Love And Be Loved Is Our Challenge

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For Christians around the world Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ Spiritually Holy Week has always been a special time for me as this week is a high point of much emotion in the life of Jesus His early followers and for me In my personal spiritual journey I try to understand what it was like living in the time of Jesus I read historical books as well as the Bible in my attempt to more deeply understand and feel the emotions of the people of the time In my effort for a deeper and closer relationship with God I immerse myself into the Bible stories trying to feel what they felt experience what they experienced This week Holy Week is a recollection of not just an ancient story but a retelling of real events which happened to real people who lived real emotions real feelings and real experiences Our challenge this week is to enter into the emotions of the apostles and the bystanders as they experienced the events leading up to the betrayal arrest death and later resurrection of Jesus The emotions of this week begin today with the joyous celebration of Jesus entering as a beloved hero into Jerusalem Later this week the joyous celebration and exaltation of today becomes the confusion of Thursday as one of their own betrays and hands over Jesus to the Romans to be arrested Quite quickly the feeling of confusion turns to fear and depression on Friday when Jesus is tortured and later killed as a common criminal Jesus for whom they left family and jobs is now dead betrayed by one of their own Three days later comes the bewilderment and hope as news spreads of Jesus resurrection Sunday morning Our challenge for today 1 What can I do to more deeply understand the emotions and reactions of the apostles as they triumphantly enter Jerusalem 2 What can this week teach me about my faith life 3 How do I hope to have my life changed by this exercise of delving into the emotions of the stories of this week

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CHAPTER 2 Holy Thursday How Love and Betrayal Are One

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The apostles who followed Jesus gave up their livelihood and families to follow a person whom they hoped was their longed for messiah the savior of the Jewish people After spending much time with Jesus the apostles experience the awesome high of walking into Jerusalem with the crowds praising the man they are following Imagine how they felt knowing that they are with an important person and they are one of only 12 selected personally by Him Think of how this would make you feel But then come the events at the end of the week that will change their lives forever The night of Passover as Jesus dines for the last time with his apostles we learn that one of the selected twelve Judas will betray and hand over Jesus to the authorities and Peter will deny not once but three times that he knows Jesus The rest of the apostles the closest friends of Jesus flee and hide Think about this one of Jesus closest companions turns Him over to be arrested His selected leader Peter will deny ever knowing Him the rest of the friends run away at a time when Jesus needed His friends support the most Historically around the year 33AD the Roman Empire ruled the known Western world including Jerusalem and the Jewish people Over time as the apostles slowly come to an understanding of Jesus as the Son of God they long for the day that He will save them from the Romans This was part of the reason for Judas betrayal to force Jesus hand into fighting the Romans to whom he turned over Jesus Neither Peter nor Judas understood that Jesus was a Savior of souls not a conqueror of the Romans The freedom Jesus brings is an inner freedom not a physical freedom Therefore when Jesus is arrested and neither He nor the angels come to save Him the apostles become scared and confused Put in the historical context it is a bit easier to understand why Peter although not fleeing the scene like the rest denies knowing Jesus It is not necessarily to betray his friend but out of a sense of fear and confusion Peter doesn t want to be arrested too Peter is scared and confused

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Jumping ahead in the story after the resurrection of Jesus He finds Peter to reconcile with him He allows Peter the opportunity of forgiveness but not just a simple I m sorry but a deeper reconciliation based on love and compassion Jesus approaches Peter not to reproach him for his denial but to simply ask Peter if he loves Him Peter responds with yes you know that I love you Can you imagine the emotions Peter is experiencing Personally a song from the early 1990 s by the rock band Savatage seems to sum up the emotional exchange of Jesus and Peter during their reconciliation The song Believe was not written for this purpose but it speaks to me in a way of framing the depth of the emotions felt by Peter and Jesus as Peter is asked if he loves Jesus This is the verse from the song which I attribute to Peter s words to Jesus As you read the verse place yourself in the scene of Peter confused and afraid ashamed and embarrassed standing before the risen Jesus I never wanted to know Never wanted to see I wasted my time Till Time wasted me I never wanted to go I always wanted to stay Cause the person I am are the parts that I play So I plot and I plan and I hope and I scheme to the lure of a night filled with unfinished dreams And I m holding on tight To a world gone astray As they charge me for years I can no longer pay The refrain of the song which I attribute to Jesus responding to Peter is both powerful and comforting I am the way I am the light I am the dark Inside the night I hear your hopes I feel your dreams And in the dark I hear your screams Don t turn away Just take my hand And when you make your final stand I ll be right there I ll never leave And all I ask of you Believe On this Holy Thursday let s reflect on Trust How can I trust even when I don t fully know the person or the situation What can I do to get a better understanding when events happen of which I am unfamiliar

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Forgiveness Holding onto resentments and anger led both Peter and Judas to depression and despair How can I learn to forgive others and truly move on How can I learn to forgive myself Love How can I truly love another even when they disappoint me How can I try to more fully understand their context and what is happening in their life Can I embrace them as Jesus embraced Peter Life is not easy but by placing ourselves into the drama of the apostles and Jesus during this critical week in their lives can give us guidance and teach us lessons

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CHAPTER 3 Good Friday Love in Action

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Love the complete and selfless giving for another a desire to allow the other to shine and to grow On this day Good Friday Christians recall Jesus who out of love willingly gave Himself to suffer and to die so that we may shine and grow Jesus the night before agonized and prayed over this decision of suffering and dying hoping for another way to carry out our salvation But in the end in response to the message Jesus hears in prayer He says not my will but Your will be done In trust faith and love Jesus freely suffers and dies for us How do we express love for others Do we in faith trust enough to share our love When we are suffering and find life difficult in faith do we turn to Jesus who not only suffered but who also found life s situations difficult to endure Today in faith and trust knowing that Jesus understands what it s like to make difficult decisions to suffer to feel physical and emotional pain and to love do we turn to Him in prayer and ask for guidance for strength for hope for peace for

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CHAPTER 4 Holy Saturday Mindfully Taking It All In

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Holy Saturday the day after the death of Jesus Christians await in hope and in faith for God to show us a sign that Jesus is truly His son When we think of the emotions of the followers of Jesus so sure that He was the savior to experience His death their heartbreak and confusion must ve been unbearable Were they duped How were they so wrong to think that Jesus was God Yet because of everything that they experienced while with Jesus there still exists a sense of hope in their hearts They don t yet understand and they are questioning but they haven t yet fully rejected the belief that Jesus is the son of God Taken from the Christian prayer book The Liturgy of the Hours on the next page is an ancient sermon attributed to Easter yet prayed on Holy Saturday What does this sermon say to you in your life s journey

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Something strange is happening there is a great silence on earth today a great silence and stillness The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear He has gone to search for our first parent as for a lost sheep Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve he who is both God and the son of Eve The Lord approached them bearing the cross the weapon that had won him the victory At the sight of him Adam the first man he had created struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone My Lord be with you all Christ answered him And with your spirit He took him by the hand and raised him up saying Awake O sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will give you light I am your God who for your sake have become your son Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth all who are in darkness to be enlightened all who are sleeping to arise I order you O sleeper to awake I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell Rise from the dead for I am the life of the dead

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Rise up work of my hands you who were created in my image Rise let us leave this place for you are in me and I am in you together we form only one person and we cannot be separated For your sake I your God became your son I the Lord took the form of a slave I whose home is above the heavens descended to the earth and beneath the earth For your sake for the sake of man I became like a man without help free among the dead For the sake of you who left a garden I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden and I was crucified in a garden See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back See my hands nailed firmly to a tree for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side My side has healed the pain in yours My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you Rise let us leave this place The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise I will not restore you to that paradise but I will enthrone you in heaven I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life but see I who am life itself am now one with you I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded but now I make them worship you as God The throne formed by cherubim awaits you its bearers swift and eager The bridal chamber is adorned the banquet is ready the eternal dwelling places are prepared the treasure houses of all good things lie open The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity

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CHAPTER 5 Easter Carry On Because Love Wins

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He is risen He is not in the tomb Can this be true Could Jesus rise from the dead This morning is the beginning of a new chapter for the apostles and for those who put faith in the person of Jesus The person whom they thought was dead is no longer in the tomb What does this all mean Can you even imagine the feelings of the apostles Just a week ago the twelve apostles with Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem All was right with the world What could go wrong Then on Thursday one of their own Judas hands Jesus over to the Romans who then kill him the next day But just a few days ago scared and confused the apostles are in hiding What do we do when we are scared Can you understand why the apostles fled and hid I m not trying to justify their actions but trying to understand them Sunday morning while the apostles are in hiding some of the women followers excitedly enter their hiding spot screaming that the body of Jesus is missing from the tomb Wait that s not all they saw an angel who told them Jesus was alive What In a matter of days the apostles go from excitement to fear to despair to questioning their beliefs to confusion to cautious optimism Wow Later when Jesus appears to the apostles He does not reprimand them rather His first words are Peace

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What does this mean for us In times of our lack of faith when we feel shame about how we treat Jesus we need to know that He is always there to welcome us back with a word peace We no longer need to hide in fear We need to do what the apostles did they left their hiding place and preached the risen Jesus to the world Nothing short of a resurrection with proof could have taken away their fear The apostles without fear now publicly preached that Jesus was the son of God risen from the dead And for me the only explanation for their new found courage they actually saw the risen Jesus Not too long ago the singing group Fun released their song Carry On The song is one of perseverance and while not written as a religious song I feel it very well grasps the emotions of the apostles as they came to grips of what the Resurrection meant for them Here is the final verse and chorus of the song Hold the phone Show me how No one s ever gonna stop us now Cause we are We are shining stars We are invincible We are who we are On our darkest day When we re miles away So we ll come We will find our way home If you re lost and alone Or you re sinking like a stone Carry on May your past be the sound Of your feet upon the ground Carry on Easter in it s spiritual sense is not meant to be celebrated on one day but to be lived every day The sense of hope forgiveness and new life are to be proclaimed and lived daily No matter what life brings us we are now meant to carry on knowing and feeling the excitement of the risen Jesus In our lives what can we do to feel this excitement How do we learn to carry on Focus your attention and mind on the present moment live the moment The apostles felt their feelings in the moment not knowing what was to come next Live your moments embrace them feel them experience them Do the next right thing and then live that next moment Before you know it you will find your way home and carry on

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Christopher Shea and Lifesjourney 2018 Unauthorized use and or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Christopher Shea is strictly prohibited Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Christopher Shea and Lifesjourney with appropriate and specific direction to the original content