A Calvin Theological Seminary Publication by Students & Alumni
Dear Jesus

Dear Jesus

As I reflect on the significance of your death on the cross, I am moved by how it still impacts modern-day Christians. What would you say if you were here today or if you would share a parable with us as you did for the crowds in your time?

Your words in the gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John remind us that those who come after you as your disciples must bear their crosses and follow you (Luke 14:27). Are we, as faithful Christians, still doing as you asked? If you were to return, what would you say about how we have followed your words and actions?

There is more we could do than thank you and replay the events of Pentecost every year. We can carry the crosses of others, walk with them, and support our neighbours, friends, and enemies. In our modern times, we must maintain sight of the significance of our life on earth. We cannot turn the cross you bore for us into nothing more than a play, a dramatic reenactment, or a story from the past.

Holding on to your death, Jesus, as a reminder of the love, trust, faithfulness, mercy, and grace that the Heavenly Father has for us is sometimes problematic when we walk through the retelling of your life and death here on earth. There have been many movies and TV shows like “Passion of Christ” or “The Chosen” that have given us the ability to see what life may have been like for you when you were here with us and also how drastic and tragic your death was. Fasting from our desires for chocolate, ice cream, or any other craving is a way to show you how much we appreciate your sacrifice that day, or is it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to take the money we save from fasting from our desired treats and donate that money to people in need, or, better yet, have a banquet filled with the foods we have given up in your name and fill the bellies of those starving, not from food, but from a life of having your spirit with them?

I recently read about “Shrove Tuesdays.” I don’t remember ever practicing this, even as an Anglican. What is the point? To rid my home of the desires I am fasting from is only a way to hide away the sins I am asking to be absolved of. Would it not be better to repent to a fellow Christian and pray to you for your strength to rid the complexion of the sin itself? Hiding the evidence of our sins is something other than what you would encourage, but I may be wrong. Has the act of repentance become an episode of “Biggest Loser,” or is it a time to look inward, share outward, and pray for forgiveness and your grace to no longer be in bondage to this world? (Luke 5:32) Have these acts of repentance now turned into no more than an act of dieting after the holidays? Has our celebration of your birth turned into a mockery of your death to not only show our love for you but also our love for ourselves? 

I know I sound harsh, Lord, and many come to this time of year to remember you and the sacrifice you gave for us. For it was by your blood to wash our sins away, and by the abuses you suffered from our own hands that our sins have been forgiven. Though our deeds can not earn our place, many have good intentions to prove their solidarity as Christians, yet I still believe we are missing something about the month leading up to Good Friday and Holy Week. I wholeheartedly believe that our place in heaven cannot be earned, but rather, it is bestowed upon us through your boundless love and grace. Upon contemplation of our confessions within the CRC, specifically the Heidelberg Catechism, I have observed a comprehensive discourse throughout Lord’s Days 20–23. It affirms that we cannot achieve or deserve the incredible sacrifice you have made for us.                                    

Although I don’t want to come across as someone not willing to remember your death with a sense of criticism or not acknowledge the depth of your sacrifice, many churches, including ours in the CRCNA, have come up with beautiful ways to celebrate and teach about your sacrifice for us. These creative ideas can be found online on the CRCNA’s websites such as Thrive, The Banner or even Pinterest. These are great resources to find ideas outside of fasting And prayer that can help teach our children and even ourselves new ways to express our gratitude to Christ for his sacrifice.

Our sermons for Lent have us retell your death on the cross, your acts of love and grace, and the miracles you performed, but could we perhaps go over the gospel parables more in-depth instead of just reading John 3:16 over and over again year after year? It could be me who feels that there is more to be learned from your life here with us than just a retelling that most people can’t fathom nor can picture the ways of old anymore. How can we, as Christians, show our appreciation for John 3:16 by making the sacrifice of God giving his only son to us to write the wrongs more appealing to those who are lost? Jesus tells his disciples to tend to his sheep, and we are getting out there looking for lost sheep. Or are we huddled inside our comfy churches replaying your death instead of taking to heart your life here and walking with those who need to see your light in person and not on TV, in movies, or from far unattainable places?

Most people don’t even want to go to church nowadays, and if we look at your life here with us, You weren’t sitting in the temples daily like the process, reading the laws, and making others feel guilty for not abiding by them. You walked in the shoes of others; you walked beside and taught from hills, valleys, houses, and shores. You instructed us to go and spread the good news, yet we sit on Sundays in the pews. What are we doing that was as you instructed us to do? Are we out there “treating our neighbours as ourselves?” Are we showing others why this is so important to us during Lent, or are we just sharing it with other like-minded people? 

True fasting and prayer are incredible tools for us to connect with you, Heavenly Father, and going to church on Sundays and worshipping and praising you are ways we show our love and appreciation for you, dear Lord. And I know that in the hearts of many, they give up their favourite things for 40 days to show you their solidarity and covenant promises. Are we missing something here? Could we be like the early disciples and go door to door and spread the gospel? Could we share our favourite meals with the neighbours we haven’t met yet? Could we bring Easter candies to children lying in hospital beds? Or instead of hiding chocolate in eggs and bunnies, could we get a basket of treats for some older adults in long-term care homes and visit them and listen to the important stories they have to share? Could we, instead of re-enacting your death year after year and remembering your sacrifice instead, go out and show the world your light, love, and mercy by being more like you were when you were here and then celebrating your death each year the same way? Perhaps more people would show up on Sunday mornings to hear the word of God and be more willing to be more like you in life than in death if we focused more on finding ways to live out and emulate you as you have taught us. Your sacrifice was made so that everyone who knew you would want to hear more, learn more, and then give their lives to you in mind, body, and spirit so they could rejoice in being saved and fellowship with you and the Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit. Afterward, we would concentrate on our inner selves and surround ourselves only with people who shared our thoughts. Even though you did not come to change the laws of Moses, I believe that if more people behaved and interacted with others who were similar to you, we would be more inclined to change and not adhere to the Old Testament’s commandments to be lights in the world, just as you were, Jesus. Your teachings and words seemed to me more about deeds than knowledge and recitation of customs and laws. Is it possible for us to come together as a community to rejoice, reflect on what your death meant for each of us, and act as you did when you were alive? Only then will we be able to act as your disciples and lead the lost sheep back to you, “Oh, good shepherd.”            

For more information on ways that the CRCNA discusses our views on Jesus and the events of his crucifixion and resurrection, this can be found at the following site: (https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/heidelberg-catechism).

– Amanda Mason