Turning Torture Into Victory

the following words are those of Pastor Jason, shared before entering into a time of Communion –  transcribed from the recording of the 9:00 am service on Sunday, March 1, 2015


There are situations in our life where we may feel like we need to put up a fight…The question is, is it something worth laying down our lives for? 

We’ve seen a lot in the headlines lately about Isis and we see people actually laying down their lives – involuntarily, as far as we can tell – and for what?  What is it for?

21 coptic christian martyrs
Artwork by Tony Rezk

I was struck this past week as I was reading the news.  These are the twenty-one martyrs, these twenty-one Coptic Christians that were beheaded at the seaside by Isis. 

And it’s interesting, the article I read talked about Jesus and the cross and how crucifixion was, in some ways, the instrument of torture in that day…We hear about beheadings now… well that was the cross of Jesus’ day. 

And Jesus came and took that very symbol of torture and turned it into a symbol of victory.  


Because Jesus demonstrated that even your most gruesome thing that you can put before me or put me on – I will overcome itI will overcome death.  And what struck me about this story was some of the family members of these men – they were thankful for Isis for not editing out the video, and showing these men uttering the name of Jesus Christ in their very last breath.  They were thankful that was not edited out… 

We gather at the table and we celebrate the death of Jesus Christ.  For what? 

For our freedom!  So that death doesn’t have a hold on us.  So that we can say, just like Jesus was raised from the dead, we too who have hope in Him will be raised from the dead so that no matter what happens, we know that death is not the end. 

And what’s beautiful about this is that it’s not the black hooded men who are standing there – it’s the Lord Jesus Christ who’s there to receive these men. 

And as we gather at the table we recognize that it’s the Lord Jesus Christ who gathers to receive us at our hour of need and at our hour of death no matter when that comes. 

“I have brought victory,” Jesus said. “You put before me the cross and I overcame that….Death is not the end.”

No matter what this world shares with us – no matter what comes in this world – we know that Jesus Christ has overcome.  We know that is what the cross is all about…

Spend some time reflecting on Christ as the One who has died and shed His blood for us and the victory that has come in his resurrection – that he stands alive, welcoming people who trust in him.

Choosing Discomfort: Communion Is Not Just A Pretty Ritual

by contributing writer Heidi Eastman
Church is sometimes too comfortable.  We have cushy seats and we sit with the people we know and like. Even communion is comfortable, with the pretty silver trays filled with pieces of tortilla (with a gluten free option) and tiny thimbles of grape juice.  We partake while listening to beautiful, reflective music and often leave the service without a second thought about the meaning of the ritual we just participated in.   
Jesus’ death was messy and dirty and chaotic.  Communion is clean and organized and quiet.  The two are worlds apart. The bread is the body, the wine (or juice) is the blood but how can we connect bread and juice with the brutal death Jesus suffered?

I will never fully understand (nor do I want to) the agony Jesus faced while dying on the cross but occasionally, I try to focus on the brutal reality. The reality that Jesus was beaten violently, forced to carry the instrument that was going to be used to kill him, nailed upon a cross – completely naked, for everyone to mock and spit at –  waiting for death to come.  Every single breath would have been agony as the open cuts from his beating would scrape over the cross.  And if breathing hurt, can you imagine the pain of projecting his voice so people around could hear him?  Yet he chose to seek forgiveness for those crucifying him, to assure a man dying alongside him that he would be with him in heaven, and to make sure his mother was taken care of.  The physical pain would be indescribable, but the emotional pain?  The pain of being killed by those you love unconditionally, because one of your closest friends betrayed you?  That pain is unfathomable!

So the next time the silver tray comes your way, try choosing discomfort.  Next time you take the bread, actually think about Jesus’ body.  Think about what He suffered for you.  When you take the wine, actually think about His blood, poured out willingly and without complaint.  The only reason we have the privilege of partaking in the beautiful tradition of communion is because of the ugly, violent and messy way our Saviour died. 

Will you approach this Sunday with a little more thought and reverence? Will you set aside the worries of your week to really focus on what Jesus’ sacrifice means? Will you choose discomfort?
Heidi Eastman lives in Neustadt with her husband, two daughters, and a beast of a dog. She has been an active part of the HMC congregation from the moment she was old enough to contribute.