I grew up as part of the spiritual family of Hardwick Christian Church. Along with my parents and sisters, I learned about Jesus and the Bible there. I don’t ever remember a Sunday throughout my childhood and into my teen years when I was not in that church building and doing life with those wonderful people. So many of those delightful folks have received their heavenly reward, but many, though scattered around the country, still remain faithful followers and servants of our Lord to this day. I have such great memories of those years spent with my church family throughout the late 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s. The caring people, impactful events, and formative lessons and messages forever changed my life.
Maybe you’re like me when it comes to the influence of time spent in church. Specific sermons and lessons are often easily forgotten, but their underlying truth remains. The melodies and lyrics of songs of the church are sometimes a challenge to recall, but their lasting impact is seared into our hearts. People say things to us at a church gathering that we may not remember specifically, but we know that we were loved and encouraged. But, I have never forgotten the impactful memory of the power of the cross that I first learned at Hardwick Christian Church.
My family not only attended Sunday morning services, but also Sunday evening services as well. Communion was always observed at each service. The servant leaders of the church would come forward to the communion table after a hymn about the sacrifice of Jesus had been sung. The white linen cloth that covered the trays and table was folded back, a prayer was said, and the emblems of the Lord’s Supper were passed throughout the congregation. But, there was something dramatic that took place only on Sunday evenings.
After the communion prayer, the sanctuary lights were turned out and a red spotlight, strategically placed in the ceiling overhead, was turned on. Red light covered the communion table and the front of the sanctuary. This was serious! This was attention grabbing! This was truly a special and moving time. And the lesson was unmistakable: The blood of Jesus covers our sins.
The latter part of Revelation 1:5 says, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…”
Because of the tradition of the church I grew up in, I have never forgotten that it is the blood of Jesus that makes all the difference. His blood, shed for me, has set me free from sin. The crucifixion of Jesus was horrible beyond description. When confronted with the truth of what took place there, we can come to only one conclusion. Jesus suffered, bled and died for you and me.
The chains of sin can bind us no more. The blood of Jesus sets us free. The punishment for sin was taken entirely by our Savior, the lamb of God. And he died for us because he loves us. “For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only son...” (John 3:16).
So, on this upcoming Good Friday, when Christians around the world remember the crucifixion of Jesus, may we remember the love of Christ and the blood he shed that covers our sins and gives us life. And may I personally say, “Thank you” to Hardwick Christian Church for impacting my heart and mind forever concerning the power of the cross. I can hear that church singing right now: “And I love that old cross, where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.”
It’s about the cross and the blood he shed for me. I’ll never forget it. I pray you don’t either.