of the Nazarene Blessing Box
A huge crowd of people followed Jesus, including women, who were mourning and wailing for him. Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Rather, cry for yourselves and your children. The time will come when they will say, ‘Happy are those who are unable to become pregnant, the wombs that never gave birth, and the breasts that never nursed a child.’ Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ If they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Luke 23:27-31 (CEB)
Mourning and Wailing
with a harsh truth from Jesus
An often-overlooked detail of the crucifixion is that while the disciples mostly scattered and abandoned Jesus, the women remained near. Here, these faithful followers mourn and wail, which seems the appropriate response as they see their Lord suffer. Yet Jesus knows this suffering will not remain his alone. Earlier in Luke 9, Jesus’ followers are given the instruction to “take up their cross daily and follow me.” This is not an invitation to a life of permanent safety and security with nothing but butterflies and rainbows. Rather, this is a life of selfless love and sacrifice that may bring suffering as the world pushes back on a way of living it does not understand. The world doesn’t know what to do with such selfless love. In fact, the world will push back on it. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
What the world doesn’t understand, it fights. Therefore, Jesus explains, more suffering and harm will inevitably come. The kingdoms of this world will not so easily let go of the power and control they so desperately covet. And any threat to their status will be met with a swift and violent response. Call it judgment. Call it punishment. This suffering is as terrible as it is inevitable. But while the enemy will not go down without a fight, the hope of Easter reminds us that the enemy will go down. Jesus will carry his cross, stumbling and falling under the weight of our sin. But don’t cry for him. He willingly bears this burden. And while He does not guarantee immediate freedom from the pain and suffering of this world, He ensures its inevitable end. He continues on to the cross, stumbling and falling again. But with love and persistence, He will not stray from this path that leads to death so that we may receive the blessed assurance of that foretaste of glory divine.
As we await the day of glorification and pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, we have work to do. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the weak and advocate for the marginalized and oppressed. Here, at one of many blessing boxes scattered throughout our city, we have one answer to the hunger. Each day – multiple times a day – this box is filled with donations from members of Winfield First Church of the Nazarene. It started with a 5-year-old boy in this church who first learned that there are people in this town who need food. That didn’t seem right to him, so he marched into his kitchen and started pulling food off the shelves. No one was going to go hungry if he had anything to do about it. We as a church caught his vision, and we’ve been filling this box and joyfully watching the food disappear ever since.
Over the years we’ve seen people who are not associated with our church at all pull up to the box and fill it with their own donated food. They drive off before we can find out who the generous giver is, but God knows. The students of both Lowell and Country View Elementary Schools have also donated food to this blessing box. This little box cannot solve the suffering of world hunger by itself, but we refuse to deny the warnings of Christ. Where sin and the enemy bring about suffering and pain, God and His people will answer. And until the glorious day of no tears, pain and hunger arrives, we’ll continue our work. And we invite you to participate in being part of the solution as well.
Rev. Billy Byler, lead pastor
Winfield First Church of the Nazarene
201 E. 19th Avenue Winfield, KS 67156